Will the NOs have it on skating in the mall?

Plenty of ‘NO’ signs at the entrance to the mall; no welcome sign.

 

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

Councillors are none the wiser, following last night’s committee meetings, about the circumstances of a skateboarder copping a hefty fine for failing to show proof of identity. Councillor Chansey Paech, who is championing a more inclusive approach towards skaters and cyclists in the CBD, asked for clarification from CEO Rex Mooney.

 

Mr Mooney expressed his faith in the professionalism of the rangers but asked for a few days grace to prepare a more detailed report for the elected members. However, he said the fine was not for the activity of skate-boarding, which was part of Cr Paech’s concern.

 

Mr Mooney also said the fine had not been paid but a fortnight’s extension has been allowed.

 

Cr Paech (pictured) commented that the situation was “a clear indication” of the need for council to create a harmonious space in the Alice Springs CBD for “all user groups”. He signaled that he would present a motion on the issue at the next meeting and urged his colleagues to read the information he had previously distributed about skate a bicycle friendly policies in other jurisdictions.

 

Mr Mooney also advised that council has recruited a Todd Mall Promotions Officer, Marion Erlich, and she will soon undertake a walk-through of the mall, with CAT Projects’ Lyndon Frearson who headed up the recent redesign works. Cr Paech asked to take part in this walk-through.

 

Meanwhile a request for comment on the issue from the Alice Springs News Online  remains unanswered. This is unusual for council.

 

•••

 

Councillors will consider the detail of a proposed Register of Pecuniary Interests for elected members and senior staff during their forum discissions next week. This follows the controversy around former councillor Geoff Booth’s plan to open an escort agency in Alice Springs, in the wake of which Mr Booth resigned. A by-election to replace him will cost council an estimated $92,000.

 

Last night councillors were provided with a report from council’s solicitor, Chris Turner, outlining the provisions for disclosure in the NSW and Victorian Local Government Acts. It is Mr Turner’s recommendation that council model its register on the Victorian Act, which has a “catch-all provision” for disclosure in an annual return of “any substantial interest” which the person considers could raise “a material conflict” between his or her private interest and his or her public duty as a councillor or senior staff member.

 

•••

 

Council has moved towards greater financial transparency with the inclusion of several financial reports in the committee papers. These include the balance sheet, the monthly payments listing, the investments report, and the debtor analysis.

 

Council has $17.5m invested with the NAB and $12.25m in cash deposits.

 

Payments for the month ending September 13 were listed in order of value, ranging from a progress payment of over $1m to Sitzler Brothers for work on the Waste Management Facility, down to 80 cents for a stationery item.

 

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9 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Hal Duell
    Posted October 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    From the signs I would imagine that to ride a skateboard in the Todd Mall is prohibited by Council by-laws. At least it is mentioned on the public signs, along with bicycle riding and rollerblading, as being verboten. I haven’t looked up the relevant by-law, but I have to assume all three are on the books.
    So here’s another question: Is the far end, the northern end, of what was the Todd Mall but is now a shared space for pedestrians and two-way vehicle traffic still a mall?
    From the free on-line dictionary:
    1. A large, often enclosed shopping complex containing various stores, businesses, and restaurants usually accessible by common passageways.
    2. A street lined with shops and closed to vehicles.
    3. A shady public walk or promenade.

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  2. Ray
    Posted October 21, 2013 at 12:43 am

    @Alice, you obviously know where to find the by-laws, as you have reprinted what I had done previously, so your comment saying it is not illegal to ride a skateboard in the mall is strange indeed. It IS illegal, read the by laws again. Section 53 (1)(b) says it pretty clearly.
    The fine is one penalty unit.

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  3. Alice
    Posted October 20, 2013 at 2:43 am

    IMPORTANT
    75 Proof of identity
    (1) Where an authorised person:
    (a) reasonably suspects a person of having committed an offence against these By-laws; and
    (b) informs the person that it is the intention of the authorised person to caution or prosecute the person in respect of that offence the authorised person may require the person to provide further evidence of identity of a specified kind.
    (2) A person who, without reasonable excuse, fails to provide the further proof of identity required under clause (1) is guilty of an offence.
    73(1) Hindering or obstructing
    authorized person. 4 Penalty units
    74(2) Failing to provide required information 4 Penalty units
    74(3) Providing false information 5 Penalty units
    75(2) Failing to provide evidence of identity without reasonable excuse 4.

    Right. Since it is not illegal to skate in the mall, what offence occurred for the ranger to demand identification?
    This makes the whole issue illegal?

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  4. Hal Duell
    Posted October 18, 2013 at 5:56 am

    Ray
    Thank you for providing that framework. I may not like it that someone other than a full officer of the law can demand that I identify myself, but at least you have shown how Council can can do just that.
    It still leaves a few points hanging, at least to my thinking.
    Police officers undergo fairly rigorous professional training before being allowed to deal in a confrontational manner with members of the public. Do Council Rangers go through similar training?
    Police officers wear their badges on their shirts, or at least I think they do. It might be an idea if Rangers did likewise.
    Are the Council officers deciding the economics of this keeping in mind just how large a sum $576 is? They are on a salary of what? Well over $100,000 a year I imagine. Maybe closer to $200,000. Have they lost sight of the fact that for the people they are most likely to be fining, $576 is most of a fortnight’s income?
    It seems I have to concede that Council, through the Local Government Act, does have the right to levy fines. But words like “disproportionate” and “abuse of power” come to mind, and I am wondering if Council’s obvious urge to control has gotten out of control.
    With the roundabouts and other traffic squeezes, they have us running around on tracks. Now with this ID business they have us, or potentially have us, standing to attention waiting to be cleared by someone wearing a brown shirt. Have they, heaven forbid, gone a bit rogue?
    I am all for an effective and appropriate system of urban by-laws, but I am not so supportive of reducing people to penury. And I mightily object when I feel someone is standing over me.

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  5. Melanie Ross
    Posted October 17, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    I take it Mr Garner has never been to Melbourne or other cities where skaters and pedestrians happily co-exist.
    Get over the us and them – they aren’t outlaw motorcycle gangs!
    And there are two issues here. The debate about skating in the Mall, and the more concerning to me demand for ID from council rangers. Do council rangers have the power to demand ID? And if they do, should they?

    View Comment
  6. Ray
    Posted October 17, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Hi Hal, this info is available on the public domain.
    Alice Springs (Management of Public Places) By-laws 2009
    Authorised person means either a person appointed by Council under Division 1 of Part 9.6 of the Local Government Act or a member of the Police Force.

    75 Proof of identity
    (1) Where an authorised person:
    (a) reasonably suspects a person of having committed an offence against these By-laws; and
    (b) informs the person that it is the intention of the authorised person to caution or prosecute the person in respect of that offence the authorised person may require the person to provide further evidence of identity of a specified kind.
    (2) A person who, without reasonable excuse, fails to provide the further proof of identity required under clause (1) is guilty of an offence.
    73(1) Hindering or obstructing
    authorized person. 4 Penalty units
    74(2) Failing to provide required information 4 Penalty units
    74(3) Providing false information 5 Penalty units
    75(2) Failing to provide evidence of identity without reasonable excuse 4.
    Hope this Hopes Hal, and I do agree with your 2 major points of concern.

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  7. Peter
    Posted October 16, 2013 at 8:55 am

    I agree with Hal. What power gave the ranger a right to demand ID?
    Further, Hal makes some good points about safety of skate boarding. However, I disagree that the skate boards cannot co-exist with other users of the mall.
    I believe a reasonable solution could be worked out to accommodate the skaters.
    Maybe they could skate between certain hours or on certain days. The council consciously designed the furniture to accommodate skaters so they must have expected there will be skating in the mall.
    Yet they now fine people for said activity. Let’s not view all skaters as irresponsible just like we don’t consider all drivers / drinkers / cyclist or any person involved with an activity irresponsible.
    Consultation with all interested parties: Is this not a role of local government?

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  8. Hal Duell
    Posted October 15, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Can Council please furnish this site with the legal reasoning that apparently gives them the right to levy a fine for not showing an ID?
    If you haven’t paid the fine yet, Marco, I would consider fighting it.
    Which isn’t to say that I am in favour of unrestricted skateboarding in the northern end of the Todd Mall.
    My two major concerns are that children don’t look, and many of the elderly are neither as quick on their feet nor as sharp in their hearing as they once were.
    And no matter how much I try, I cannot see skaters, while concentrating on what they are doing and wearing headphones, being very aware of others around them.

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  9. V. Garner
    Posted October 15, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Skating in the mall? Hope council has really good insurance because hundred mile an hour kids on wheels and pedestrians are not a safe mix. This “senior” would most certainly be VERY upset if knocked over.
    However, we could just vote with our feet and not go near the place. Now, how much did that upgrade cost?

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