Blame game over bookings

Manly Daily

Saturday 11 May 2002

PITTWATER Council and the Pedestrian Council of Australia (PCA) are blaming each other for causing a parking crackdown in Palm Beach and Careel Bay.

The council says it has been unfairly forced to issue a raft of $63 fines outraging residents while the PCA has blamed the council for ignoring its pleas for improving pedestrian safety.

In an unprecedented step, council general manager Angus Gordon said he was prepared to release PCA correspondence to show that the group's chairman Harold Scruby had pushed for the crackdown.

Mr Gordon said the material would reveal the PCA's “unrelenting campaign to ensure council enforces the parking laws of the state”.

The council has received some 89 e-mails on the subject of illegal parking from Mr Scruby, many with attached photographic evidence, since 1999.

But Mr Scruby said he would not give permission to release the correspondence, emphasising that pedestrian safety was the most important issue.

Mr Scruby reiterated that the council could be held liable if it refused to enforce the laws properly.

“We've been writing to council for three years explaining that there is a bus stop (outside Palm Beach Golf Club) and a pedestrian crossing and that it's illegal to park within 20m of it because it's dangerous,” he said.

“Imagine if someone was killed or injured at that spot but the council had never booked anyone there?”

Mr Gordon said the council was “the meat in the sandwich”.

“The PCA has taken council to task for what the PCA believes is the failure of council's rangers to enforce the parking laws of this state,” he said.

“Complaints have been forwarded to council by the PCA alleging corrupt conduct by rangers due to their failure to book vehicles.”

Mr Gordon said those complaints had been forwarded to the ICAC, while the council had no record of accidents or injuries at the locations in question.

“When we don't have that record, then one has to question whether or not it is necessary to enforce the letter of the law,” he said.

But Mr Scruby said it was no defence to say safety measures should not be implemented because accidents had yet to occur.

Mr Gordon said the fundamental difference in opinions was that the council wanted a progressive implementation process, including an education campaign, while the PCA wanted immediate enforcement.
Mr Scruby said the new parking arrangements should have been implemented when the Australian Road Rules were adopted in December 1999.

“Under the (rules), motorists must park `in the direction of traffic flow unless otherwise signposted',” Mr Scruby said.

He said that the PCA did not want a parking blitz but a safety audit and proper signage.

However Mr Gordon said the PCA had ignored the fact that the council had been actively lobbying the RTA for years to allow changes that would allow for improved parking while maintaining pedestrian safety.

He urged the PCA to sit down with the council and listen to its implementation strategy.

But Mr Scruby believes the council has failed to enforce the law for fear of annoying its racketeers.

“It's all about not upsetting the locals,” he said. “Well, we don't care if we are going to upset the locals if we are going to save a life.”
Related Articles:
"Crackdown fury" - Manly Daily - 8 May 2002
"Crossing Scruby" - Manly Daily - 18 May 2002
"Meeting helps to clear the air" - Manly Daily - 18 May 2002
"Peace breaks out" - Manly Daily - 18 May 2002