Last week the Redland City Council voted narrowly to amend various local laws.
The most contentious local laws issue was deciding to let horses be ridden in any Council park or reserve, except where specifically prohibited. This is a reversal of the long standing laws which say that horses can only be ridden in places where expressly permitted.
Cr Ogilvie drew attention to the officers’ Consultation Report which states that Council manages more than 1,000 parks and reserves. He said that the Council’s signs for many of the 1,000 parks and reserves will need to be reviewed and changed which will take considerable time and be a significant cost to ratepayers.
Points made by officers in the consultation Report included:
Feedback in support of the proposal comprised of one pro-forma submission signed individually by 25 people. Feedback against the proposal comprised of 17 individual submissions raising a number of different points.
Compliance advises that they currently receive very few complaints with regards to horses in the City. Complaints received relate primarily to horses leaving faeces, which the owner is not required to pick up under the local law. Submissions against the proposal expressed this as a concern.
The current and proposed local law share exactly the same provision in that horses are allowed in all parks and reserves providing they stay on designated trail systems. The only exception is Wellington Point Reserve, IndigiScapes and designated bathing reserves where horses are prohibited. These exceptions would still remain for safety reasons.
There are a large number of safety and environmental issues with allowing horses open access to Council parks and reserves. These include but are not limited to conflict between park and reserve users (e.g. walkers with dogs, bike riders), horse faeces creating a nuisance and spreading weeds, off-trail vegetation and land destruction and damage to park surfaces (which also creates a safety concern). Council’s Conservation Land Management Strategy (endorsed by Council in 2010) sets out further considerations when providing horseriding access in reserves. The Strategy supports horse access to reserves providing they are restricted to designated fire trails (and vehicle trails).
Should Council wish to provide unlimited access unless signed, over 1,000 parks and reserves in the City would require new signage (at a significant cost) or to be listed in a register for the community to reference. Council currently has over 200 kms of trail systems where horse owners are encouraged to ride. Council is in the process of supporting horse owners to utilise these trails through appropriate signage (including detailed maps and directions) and development of website material for referral. Existing signage that previously restricted horse access to certain parks and reserves is in the process of being removed and replaced to allow greater access.
Which law is an ass?
In her comments on the current law, Cr Talty chose to quote Mr Bumble who said “the law is an ass”. Her point seemed to be that the current law does not suit some horse riders, so it should be changed because otherwise these horse riders would continue breaking the law.
She then said it was unfair that horses were treated differently to dogs. Dog walking is allowed in any park except where this is specifically prohibited – so the same rule should apply to horse riding she argued.
Cr (Deputy Mayor) Beard then provided a moment many thought was an absurdity. He said that this year was the ANZAC Centenary so it would be appropriate to make this change to long standing local laws in recognition of the contribution made by horses in times of war.
Cr Bishop also provided a moment of levity (in this case intentionally) when he declared his lack of horse ownership as a possible conflict of interest.
The Councillors who voted for the changes to local laws were: Beard, Edwards, Gleeson, Hardman, Talty and Williams.
Councillors who voted against the motion were: Bishop, Boglary, Elliott, Hewlett and Ogilvie.
After the vote Mayor Karen Williams said that Council had listened to the wishes of the community and stakeholder groups with a number of proposed law changes revised from earlier drafts.
She also said “The law governing riding of horses in public areas is consistent with those applying to dogs in public areas with clear signposting to be provided in parks, reserves and trails to indicate those areas where horses are prohibited.”
Cr Talty and Mayor Williams have suggested the need for consistency in the way that horses and dogs are allowed access to public places. It seems, however, that more needs to be done to achieve “consistency”. For example:
- Council requiring horse owners to pick up their droppings.
- Offsetting cost of changing Council signage by introducing horse registration fees.
- Council may need to clarify any areas where a horse is allowed “off leash”.
Have your say
Council’s 6/5 vote sees the Local Laws now come into effect on July 1. Did you have your say when Council promoted changing the Local Laws as part of its drive to reduce red tape?
Next comes the controversial City Plan 2015, the future of Redland City. The Plan has now been drafted following Council’s deficient initial consultation. It designates where development can happen throughout the Redlands into the future. The ‘draft’ is about to become open for public comment, be sure to have your say when it does.