Rally by consent

Since when did it become a local government responsibility to do the public relations work for a private event?
The State Government’s pressure through Events SA to make the Adelaide Hills Council change its demand for 100% written agreements from residents along special stages is, in itself, an example of “Big Brother” influence.
However, its insistence that organisers should work with councils and that councils should do the community consultation on behalf of organisers is ludicrous.
Regardless of whether rallies should or shouldn’t be held in the Hills, it is not the role of a council to doorknock its residents to announce an upcoming sporting event, explain how it will be run and to canvas opinion.
That is a job and a cost for event organisers, part of their responsibility for taking over access to a public asset.
The council is there to make sure the consultation groundwork is done before they sign off on the legalities.
In an ideal world residents and rallies would enjoy a smooth line of communication.
The fact that road closures have sparked such debate this year is indicative that the community is not engaged.
Rally organisers might argue that recent protests are being driven by a one-woman campaigner, Fiona Challen, who has been lobbying Hills councils.
However, The Courier has reported on residents’ complaints before and after rallies for a number of years.
Most of them crop up as informal speeches at council public forums and through councillor reports but they have been steadily building, perhaps as the Hills becomes more popular for sporting events and some roads are targeted two or three times in one year.
Either way, the households who signed a petition opposing the Kumnick Hill Road closure at Lenswood and attended a protest meeting opposing road closures between Blakiston and Balhannah this month, and the residents who gathered at a protest meeting at Fox Creek Road after the hastily organised Supaloc Targa Adelaide last year, number many more than the “10 complaints in 10 years” alleged by Events SA.
Opposition to rallies is probably stronger than event organisers are willing to admit and less than protestors believe, with most residents indifferent.
What is needed is a better, more transparent consultation process between residents and rallies, and event organisers need to take responsibilty for that.
Residents don’t have exclusive rights to dictate the use of the roads outside their driveway but, likewise, motor sport doesn’t have an automatic right to use public roads wherever and whenever it wants to.

2 Comments on "Rally by consent"

  1. Annoyed and against the constant attitude | April 19, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Reply

    After reading a number of your articles all I am reading is an approach to just tell rally people to go away. Well I have been involved as a volunteer official for many events over the last 10 years and see alot of unfounded accusations against rallys. For example that the organizers aren’t consulting with councils and doing the right thing, what aload of rubbish. That the fact there are 1000s of people along the routes that actually enjoy the event as I have spoken to them while securing the stage. Yes there are a few that are unhappy, but they are really nice to me and are not against them as long as we respect them. In the last 3 years I can only remember one concern as she was pregnant and was happy when I said if anything happens we will have professionally train medical people with you quick as they are at the start.
    Rally organizers do there very best to do the right thing and ensure many things, but you keep reporting that they are not. I personally understand why some people donot want a rally , but just read how many people actually want it. How about actually reporting things for what really is going and not try to become a bully newspaper.
    By the way I have personally spent $300 past in the Adelaide hills during an event and times that by the number of official, competitors, spectators and you wonder why the tourism people are interested in the events.

  2. Andrew Admiraal | April 21, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Reply

    As a car club member, a competitor, an event volunteer and an event organiser, I have been involved first hand in the above mentioned processes over many years.

    I can guarantee that the events that I have personally been involved with at an organisational level have always performed their own consultative process and liaised with local government accordingly. I have personally met with residents by either walking the “stages” or having group meetings at a calendared time at community halls or such like. I have discussed with residents and councils the dynamics of this sport, I have listened to the concerns, and with those that I am lucky enough to work with, have worked in having them addressed. We have provided support where and when required, we have aided in situations not directly relevant to us when and where required and we have found that there is great support for events such as these. These events are exciting, they are interesting and they are complex. They do bring people to the various areas, they do bring revenue to the various areas, and they do promote the various areas.

    We have been accountable to local government and their constituents and have always provided relevant information and resident support or lack thereof, so that our events have the lowest possible impact on the area whilst also bringing the highest possible benefits, be they fiscal, promotional or otherwise, to all concerned. We fund the mail drops, we fold the letters, we take the calls and perform the consultation. The cost to local government is minimal if not minuscule. Unlike other sport or community events, we self fund our events with no financial support from local councils.

    We have worked hard at working with councils so that all can benefit, and some councils have been wonderful to work with, having clear direction and processes for us to follow. In some councils, the processes and procedures are more undefined or indistinct, with sometimes up to seven months for decisions to be made, as happened in 2011. This then leaves the events conveying a perception of lax organisation, short time frames and late notice; something that is totally untrue and out of our control.

    Interestingly, noting that we are a volunteer organisation and are accountable to all, the protesting groups seem not to be, nor does the media.

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