Councillor Pat Daley OAM will not be joining a Northern Beaches Council taskforce on East Esplanade, saying he is ‘burned out’ by the issue.
Cr Daley brought a notice of motion to last night’s Council meeting (Tuesday, 23 February) to ban consumption of alcohol at East Esplanade, Manly following concerns raised with him over ongoing problems of anti-social behaviour including public urination, drug taking and drug dealing.
Nearby residents addressed the meeting in support of Cr Daley’s motion, saying the behaviours had gotten out of control and residents were regularly abused when they challenged people on their property.Local resident Joel Outram told the meeting that protection of residents property and personal safety needed urgent attention.
“I’ve decided to take this action after tolerating the behaviours on our private property for several years to then change my mind the morning I needed to pick my 2-year-old son up and carry him over the pools of urine that collect on our driveway over a weekend, so his feet didn’t get wet on the way to our car,” said Mr Outram.
Mr Outram emotionally recounted a number of examples from other residents including other young families and the elderly. He told the meeting that residents felt threatened by drug taking behaviours, abuse and threats of violence. He recounted incidents of residents finding used toilet paper on their property and bringing clothes in early because people wipe their hands on them.
Councillor David Walton, former Crime Manager for the Northern Beaches when he served as a Police Officer, amended the original motion to instead form a taskforce to look into the issue and formulate a response. The taskforce was proposed to include key stakeholders including community representatives, law enforcement and Manly Ward Councillors, Candy Bingham, Sarah Grattan and Pat Daley.The amended motion was accepted by Council after Cr Daley asked that his name be removed as he did not wish to participate in the taskforce.
“I am absolutely burnt out by this. I have been vilified. I am burnt out by the community engagement. From day one I have been mocked, vilified. The toxic emails I have received, I am over it. But let me say this, I will be maintaining my involvement with this from a Councillor perspective, dealing with the elderly who have been ringing me, I will be continuing that.
“Given what’s gone down on this it’s up to Cr Bingham and Cr Grattan to work with the community down there to come up with solutions. How this has played out, I don’t think it would be helpful if I was included in the working group, I think that would be a mistake,” said Cr Daley.
Speaking to the Northern Beaches Advocate today (Wednesday, 24 February), Mr Outram said he was pleased the need to address the issue had received broad support at Council and expected to be invited to participate in the taskforce.
“The taskforce is useful if it is taken really seriously in terms of immediate and sustainable action. It’s really important that it’s not a way of managing some upset residents.
“I wasn’t advocating to ban alcohol. Regardless of whether there’s alcohol in the park, it needs far better management of what happens to private property but also what goes on in the park. It’s unfortunately turned into a bit of a free-for-all on sunny weekends.
“I was encouraged by the unanimous decision in terms of a taskforce of the appropriate people. Nobody has spoken to me about it yet, but I would expect an invite and I’m willing to join it,” said Mr Outram.
Reflecting on his presentation to Council, Mr Outram said he was ‘a little embarrassed’ at becoming emotional as the weight of representing the residents voice came to him at the podium.
“Whether it was elderly people or families, everyone’s input just came out at that point in time. I have spoken to the majority of buildings along that stretch and some of the buildings in the adjoining streets. I could still do more comprehensive discussion but I’ve met with over 30 people. You know what us guys are like, we get pretty embarrassed when we get emotional. I was never one that was good at drama, so I’m almost embarrassed about nearly shedding a tear,” said Mr Outram.Deputy Mayor Candy Bingham said Mr Outram was likely to be one of the residents invited to join the East Esplanade taskforce.
“The motion doesn’t mention him by name but he and Ray Mathieson would be the resident representatives I expect who would be invited.
“What I’m pushing for is a plan of management. We don’t have a plan of management for East Esplanade. What that enables Council to do is specify the sort of activities that can go on down there. The big challenges we’ve had down there are people turning up with big marquees for example, people are meeting in large groups. When you’ve got a plan of management you can specify how the area can be used. I think that will make a big difference.
“Because of COVID, police resources were limited. We lost a huge number of our police force. The other thing we are hoping is now that COVID is settling down, we’ll have proper police assistance in managing anti-social behaviour down there. If these hoons get the message very quickly that the police will be there like a shot if there’s anti-social behaviour going on, that’s the best way to knock it on the head.
“This happens every year. It was particularly bad this year. I think the worst is hopefully behind us but we can’t sit on our laurels, we’ve got to push this really hard. The plan of management is what I’m pushing for and there is support for that,” said Cr Bingham.
Images: Northern Beaches Advocate