The Mosman Daily - Wednesday 17 May, 2006

Final step in footpath feud

By Di Bartok

THE battle of the pavement is about to heat up in Mosman Council, with Pedestrian Council chairman Harold Scruby expecting to speak out next week against ``nature strip jungles''.

Councillors are to consider a petition presented by Stanton Rd resident Paul Delprat to have a footpath built on the lower section of the street.

Mr Delprat claims the garden-dominated nature strip is unsafe for pedestrian access, which puts him at loggerheads with fellow resident Carolyn Bethwaite who says the foliage ``softens the landscape''.

At a recent council meeting where officers recommended against a footpath, councillors decided to do a site inspection. A final decision is expected next week.

Mrs Bethwaite told councillors the Stanton Rd garden had been there for more than 50 years and was on a low-traffic street.

``In the 20 years I have lived there, there has not been any incident between pedestrians and cars,'' Mrs Bethwaite said at the meeting.

But Mr Delprat said his children felt unsafe, having to walk on the road instead of the nature strip.

He said he had collected signatures from people walking to Balmoral Beach.

Mr Scruby has been concerned with the number of garden nature strips in the area, saying they are ``unacceptable and unlawful''.

As the Stanton Rd matter was heating up, Mr Scruby wrote to general manager Viv May over ``the increasing propensity for Mosman residents to alienate public land.''

``They create their own gardens, forests, jungles etc either on the nature strip or protruding right across the footpath, frequently requiring pedestrians to walk on the road,'' Mr Scruby wrote.

``Council is clearly abrogating its duty of care and could be found negligent and liable should a person be injured or killed as a result of same.''

Mr May told the Daily there were ``hundreds'' of such nature strips throughout the area and they had not been considered dangerous to pedestrians. ``Some have been there for 60 years,'' Mr May said.

Mr May said neighbours would have to be consulted before any more gardens were planted on nature strips, particularly in high traffic areas.

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