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Dog confession

DOGS remain banned from Inverloch beaches 9am to 6pm until April, despite Bass Coast Shire Council’s admission it could have surveyed beach users more thoroughly before trialling the ban.

Mayor Cr Neil Rankine read a statement at the start of last Wednesday’s council meeting at the Wonthaggi council chambers.

“It is clear to us now that our community consultation and engagement during the development of the time restrictions has not been as inclusive as it could have been,” he said.

“You have told us this loud and clear and we are listening.”

However, council is adamant the trial ban will remain in place until the end of April while an independent research group surveys community opinion and collates information.

The resulting report will be presented to council in May.

The mayor stated council had undertaken some community consultation in 2012, even though, as new CEO Paul Buckley pointed out, council is not obliged to consult on the matter of animal restrictions.

“Under the Domestic Animals Act 1994, council is responsible to put in place measures to manage cats and dogs in public places,” Cr Rankine said.

“In 2012, after extensive community consultation, we developed and adopted Council’s Domestic Animal Management Plan.”

He pointed out council altered the original plan after listening to community opinion.

“The times for the Inverloch arrangements were amended in the December meeting as a result of community feedback,” Cr Rankine said.

However, the mayor said the subject was complex.

“This is a really difficult issue,” he said.

“The issue of dogs on beaches is a highly emotive one – where people are passionate about their views, but there is little consensus as to what is the way to balance these different, and often conflicting, opinions.”

Cr Rankine also remarked on the inappropriate nature of some feedback to council.

“Regrettably, some of the correspondence and emails that we have received has been negative and personal against council and individual councillors. This is not helpful,” he said.

“I call on you to work with us to find constructive solutions to achieve a balance that acknowledges the various needs and views.”

Protesters cheered when council moved to accept two petitions asking council to revoke the trial ban.

“We’ve had the worst summer,” Margaret Sartorio of Inverloch said afterwards.

“Everybody’s just stressing.”

Margaret’s son Phil Sartorio of Inverloch said, “A dog is for life. A councillor, four years.”

One petition accepted by the council contained 672 signatures, adding to a petition tabled in December that contained 1685 signatures.

A second, electronic petition contained 777 names, which added to another petition tabled in December containing approximately 600 names.

Instead of letting the petitions “lie on the table” for the usual time of one month, council pushed ahead and immediately accepted the petitions as submissions to the review to be undertaken following the current trial.

“Councillors are committed to improving the consultation and engagement process during the remainder of the trial and beyond,” Cr Rankine said in his statement.

“Individuals and groups are welcome to submit their thoughts to council now and as the review progresses, as many have already done.

“Council has a responsibility to ensure all views are considered, so we will develop an inclusive engagement plan.

“As part of this, the Domestic Animal Management Advisory Committee (known as DAMAC) will be reconvened, with revised terms of reference, to assist with future considerations.

“We are keen to listen to community views of how we can achieve a balance of access to our beaches.”

 

Unhappy residents: Phil Sartorio and mother Margaret Sartorio of Inverloch made a visual protest with toy dog Ranger at Wednesday’s Bass Coast Shire Council meeting.

Unhappy residents: Phil Sartorio and mother Margaret Sartorio of Inverloch made a visual protest with toy dog Ranger at Wednesday’s Bass Coast Shire Council meeting.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=10094

Posted by on Feb 25 2014. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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