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East Esplanade - a Council dilemma

By Manly Community Forum
Published in Parks and Reserves
3 min read

Update:

People can continue to drink in East Esplanade after a Council meeting last month rejected a proposal to ban alcohol from the park. Only one councillor voted for an alcohol ban despite horror stories from locals, evident anti-social behaviour and occasional criminal acts.

Clearly the Council/Councillors believed that there was a need to maintain the popular drinking spot and enjoy the support of the many locals and numerous visitors who enjoy the park for a cheap booze up with no management of responsible drinking and little control over anti-social behaviour.

Two speakers addressed the need to rein in the park excesses, outlining the dreadful circumstances facing residents of the area. It was heart breaking to hear of the disgusting behaviour of those who think they are entitled to urinate, vomit and defecate with abandon on private property. We are not opposed to people enjoying themselves in the park, but clearly there a few abusing this privilege. Shame on those Councillors who refused to listen and understand the impacts of this behaviour on the community and refused to do anything but have some more meetings with ‘stakeholders’. Council has an obligation to its residents to ensure that their actions don’t offend or endanger the community. Continuing to allow the 12 hours of uninhibited drinking on East Esplanade definitely offends and endangers the local community as this abhorrent behaviour is allowed to continue unabated.

The speakers also outlined the huge cost of the current Council Ranger patrols; the hundreds of thousand of dollars’ worth of park renovations that are being destroyed by over-use and carelessness; and that the Police found it difficult to accept their responsibility for control measures when the change was brought about by the Council.

No doubt reverting to No Alcohol would take time and close monitoring and some Police and Ranger action, not just warnings and the occasional patrol. However, the decision was made by the Councillors to leave the ordinances as is and simply form a taskforce to take control with the current policies in place. The decision smacked a little of something from “Yes Minister”. It appeared that the suggested Motion was too hard to consider and will not be popular with the voters, even though it is necessary to maintain law and order.

When the good weather appears again and the excesses become the norm, please continue to report your concerns to the Police and to the Council through the Customer Service Line 1300434434. If you get a poor response let the Forum know by email to the Secretary, providing all detail, including day and time of complaint, who you spoke to and the details of the concern.

12/2/2021: Despite the rain and COIVD restrictions Manly did not miss out on crowded beaches and parks this summer. Council announced a COIVD safe plan for our public spaces in November, but there was little evidence of it on the ground during those few hot days that saw traffic jams and large rowdy crowds around Manly.

Sadly, the residents surrounding Fairlight, Clontarf, Little Manly (incl Collins Flat) and Shelly suffered the most from the abhorrent behaviours of a few individuals who think its OK to be loud and obnoxious as well as urinate, defecate and vomit everywhere, spoiling it for everyone else. And along East Esplanade the residents are telling Council that they have had enough and want the Council to take action and return the area to an Alcohol Free Area.

By installing signs saying that alcohol can be consumed between 8am and 8pm the Council have effectively created a BYO venue on East Esplanade, known locally and internationally as ‘The Office’. BYO venues have obligations under the Liquor Act 2007 and although Council has recently improved the area with a new toilet block and landscaping they have abrogated their responsibility to properly manage a BYO venue.

The Council has an obligation to ensure the safety of those visiting the area and manage it and its immediate surrounds for all residents. The Council, not the police, is responsible for the management of this area. Should something unlawful or illegal occur on East Esplanade then the police can be called. The police, however, are not the responsible authority for the management of the site/venue. Council is, and to date they have been ineffective in controlling the poor behaviour of the drinking public in the area.

The Council and the NSW Government require others to provide a management plan for BYO venues, including a booking process, requirements to monitor entry, capacity, RSA and even a bond, in the event of damage. To obtain a Liquor Licence in the first place, extensive community consultation in required.

To comply with these requirements, the Council should ‘enclose’ the area with barriers the length of the road to prevent people from spilling onto the road, as well as providing staffed entry and exit points to ensure ‘check in’. A payment and booking system should be implemented for groups with marquees. Unbooked marquees and tables should be banned. Large clear signs should be installed on the weekends to alert visitors of RSA requirements and where the public toilets are located; and entry and exit points should be clearly sign posted with conditions of entry.

If the Council is not prepared to implement a Management Plan for East Esplanade, the Forum believes it should revert to an alcohol free zone.

Image: The Daily Telegraph


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