Following the debacle around the old Coopers Island Road cattle grid and a cow allegedly jumping over it the Council agreed to allow the farmer to instead erect a Public Gate. The old cattle grid has now been removed, the Public Gate made official and the public duly notified that it is an offence to leave the gate open. But somewhere along the way an odd thing happened. The Councillors were convinced that the old grid, that had been in place for over forty years without a single instance of a cow wandering onto the highway, was no longer able to contain a leaping cow. They were encouraged to believe that the only way to stop a wayward beast was to erect a gate across the Public Road, to formally endorse the gate and make it a punishable crime to leave the gate open. Along the way to this end-game it was identified that Council actually didn't have a Cattle Grid Policy and, as such, were not in a position to determine if any of the existing grids on public roads across the shire met any standard. It was agreed that such a policy would be drafted. You might then expect that, given the direction to draft such a policy, as requested by Council, to then be placed on public exhibition before being adopted, that Council staff would hold back any application for a new cattle grid until they had a policy in place. But not Eurobodalla Council. A cattle grid of unknown specifications has been allowed to be installed on Coopers Island Road in conjunction with the newly legalised Public Gate. It appears that the farmer didn't trust the public closing the gate and has decided the best way to ensure his cattle don't go onto the highway is to install ... a cattle grid. Fortunately, while the Council was in caretaker mode as the election was underway, the staff took it upon themselves to grant permission for the new cattle grid to be installed on the public road. Having no policy or standard the grid had no guidelines to comply with. When asked how such a decision could be made the staff responded, in writing, "The Grids and Gates Policy is being developed by Council. This Policy will be submitted to the new Council when it is formed in the new year, for review and endorsement. If issues arise with the grid which has now been installed on Coopers Island Road then those issues will be dealt with in accord with the adopted Policy." The questions to be asked by new councillors will be "Does the new cattle grid meet the standards that Council will adopt". "Do these standards ensure that a cattle grid will prevent any escape of a cow and therefore remove any risk of liability from Council?" "If the standards indicate there is no risk, especially if the farmer complies with the requirement that cattle shall be supervised at all time whilst traversing the public road to go between paddocks, why is there a need to retain a Public Gate?" "Is it standard practice for staff to provide permission for the installation of gates and grids on Public Roads without the authority of the Councillors who are the ones vested with the Authority to issue such permissions under the Roads Act?"
Above: Council staff indicate that if "issues arise with the grid which has now been installed on Coopers Island Road then those issues will be dealt with in accord with the adopted Policy. One wonders at whose expense?