Safety call to close walkway

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
The accessway at the east end of St Georges Close, Bluff Point, pictured before it was closed by an unknown person, will be permanently closed by the City of Greater Geraldton.
Camera IconThe accessway at the east end of St Georges Close, Bluff Point, pictured before it was closed by an unknown person, will be permanently closed by the City of Greater Geraldton. Credit: Supplied, City of Greater Geraldton

A pedestrian access way in Bluff Point will once again be closed after City of Greater Geraldton councillors approved its permanent closure.

During the January 23 ordinary council meeting, Cr Victor Tanti’s motion to approve permanently closing the access way at the east end of St George Close point divided councillors.

Councillors voted 8-4 in favour of closing the access way, with Crs David Caudwell, Natasha Colliver, Bob Hall and Michael Reymond opposing the motion.

The pedestrian link has been the topic of ongoing debate since it was first closed in February 2017 after a resident complained about criminal activity in the area.

After requests from other Bluff Point residents, the access way was reopened by the City in May.

Unhappy with this decision, 76 residents signed a petition, urging the City to close the access way once again, citing issues with crime, suspicious night-time activity and increased traffic.

But councillors knocked back the request at the October council meeting, noting the access way was a convenient connection to the estate, beach and Bluff Point Primary School.

Cr Tanti, who made the motion, said there was significant evidence, statistics and comments from residents to support the closure.

“There are valid concerns that there are too many people using it for criminal activity,” he said.

“This won’t turn the area into a gated community but it will make it safe at night for residents.

“This will give them the safety and security they deserve.”

A plebiscite for Bluff Point residents and business owners was conducted by the City in December.

The survey results showed 57 per cent of residents on St Georges Close, Champion Bay Rise, Lands End Close and Kempton Street who responded said they wanted the access way permanently closed.

The responses from the remaining Bluff Point residents and business owners suggested 53 per cent preferred for it to stay open.

Cr Reymond said closing the access way would just push the issue elsewhere.

“This won’t produce a permanent solution,” he said.

“I appreciate the concerns but this will create a precedent.

“Those that want an access way on their cul-de-sac closed will come to us.”

In the petition presented to the council, residents noted a significant decrease in antisocial activity and behaviour when the access way was closed.

But Cr Hall said crime and antisocial behaviour were not limited to St Georges Close.

“You can drive through other suburbs and see similar activity,” he said. “It happens everywhere.

“This is a gap in a fence and it’s a matter of convenience.

“People still want to use it — allow them to.”

During the council meeting, many councillors condemned the actions of an unknown person who had taken the law into their own hands and blocked the access way.

Cr Caudwell said this behaviour was concerning.

“A member of the community has ignored the council decision to leave it open and taken it on themselves to close it,” he said.

“What is in the best interest of the community if sections of it are going to ignore our decision?”

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