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Council meeting turns into a pantomime around Narooma licences

Much like any pantomime in which the audience is expected to sing along with certain parts of the music and shout out phrases to the performers today's Council meeting became theatre. While councillors are good at singing along with certain parts of the agenda and shouting out Dorothy Dix like questions as prompts to the staff today's theatre was poor but entertaining. It was certainly not to the quality that you might expect of our Red Door Theatre group or the Bay Players but that of an amateur thespian group bumbling through a first dress rehearsal, stumbling over lines and then resorting to make up random dialogue for want of several missing sheets of script. The highlight happened around the licencing of some carparks at the Narooma Wharf for tourism businesses such as the highly popular Montague Island Tours with Wazza. Wazza, during the Public Forum session capably appealed to the councillors that, when considering the six month licences, there were only four to be given with five operators. These licences would be for set spaces however the spaces would not be designated to a specific operator and instead would be on a first come on a first served basis on the day. Wazza identified, quite rightly, that there was nothing to stop another unlicenced operator from parking in the space nor a member of the public. The spaces were to be unmarked and unsignposted and, as such, actually available to anyone, meaning that he could pay for and hold an expensive licence yet have no right of access. He also advised the Councillors that the time constraints on these licenced areas were too restrictive and needed to have greater flexibility to reflect how each operator worked and the times that they operated their business. All very clearly and succinctly put and certainly enough to give the councillors some questions to ask when the item came up in the agenda later in the morning. And come up it did. The planning people had failed to think beyond drawing lines on a map.

What they now had was a plethora of questions around how to police the licenced areas. Questions such as how do you stop other unlicenced people parking in these spaces, how do you stop the publicand how will you police if licencees have overstayed their licensed times. Question after question on the practical ways these spaces were going to be managed. The responses were more than amusing for anyone watching. It was much like the childrens song "There's a hole in the bucket"and went along something like this: What is to stop anyone from parking there? Nothing Will the areas be marked with anything that makes them appear special and not for general parking? No So anyone can park there for as long as they want? Yes So how can you have a licence on the areas if you can't guarantee they will be available to the licence holders? We will erect signs What signs? are there special signs for this purpose? No, no special signs. We will have to think about the signs. Will the signs be policed? Yes, by rangers The zones are mainly used early in the morning. Will Council give overtime to enforce the signs? No, the rangers will enforce non-compliance by way of complaints received from the public (no doubt they expect licencees to dob each other in) Will the signs have to go to the Traffic Committee? Yes Can we have a special meeting of the Traffic Committee to fast track these signs?

That can be organised by video conferencing It was clear that no-one in council had foreseen that having these zones would require regulation. Much to the amusement of the Gallery and those watching the Live Streaming the thought processes of Council were on display in the public arena. As to what might happen? Council will look at the different signs available to them that can be warranted (no warrant, no legal restriction, no fine) such as Loading Zone or "No Parking - Authorised only" with times. Maybe the pavement will require zebra lines. What is clear is that at the moment they have no idea of how to solve it and proved that they had no idea when they went tinto the council meeting to have councillors endorse their half-baked recommendations.

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