TLDR: Sunset drinks have just been re-instated at East Esplanade in Manly; there is a move to ban it again during Covid 19 and calls for a permanent exclusion. The matter will be debated September 29 at NB Council, links are at the end.
Pour yourselves a drink folks, this is a long one…
Manly residents and councillors are at odds over alcohol consumption at the East Esplanade foreshore, known locally as “The Office”, with the matter set to come before Council on September 29.
The East Esplanade grassed area is one of the few public open spaces in which alcohol can be consumed in the Manly area and is a popular spot for picnic goers and sunset gazers. Meeting for sundowners at the Office, which has recently been re-instated as an alcohol permitted zone from 8am until 8pm at night, has become a quintessential Manly past time for many.
But Covid crowd concerns and resident claims of drunk and inappropriate public behaviour continuing well into the night has led to Manly Ward Councillor Pat Daley, and some members of the local residents’ forum to call for a 24-hour ban.
Cr Pat Daley has submitted a motion to Council, to be voted on September 29, calling for a 24-hour alcohol ban for the area specifically for the duration of the Covid 19 pandemic. But he told the Manly Observer he supported a ban beyond the pandemic, too.
“I am advocating to have East Esplanade returned to an alcohol-free zone permanently. Alcohol abuse in public places in Manly is increasing and I believe that what is happening at East Esplanade is one of the main causes of the problem. It is sending the wrong message,” he said.
Cr Daley said the current arrangement is putting the community at unnecessary risk during Covid.
But the plan does not have the backing of the two other councillors within the Manly Ward, Crs Sarah Grattan and Candy Bingham, nor the near 5,000 strong petition signers calling for the Office to be “saved”.
“I like to think that the little stretch of grass on East Esplanade was one of the reasons I decided to live in Manly in the first place,” said resident John McMahon.
John and his local social network (pictured) including local reality TV stars James Threthewie and Luke Mcleod, regularly meet for sundowners at The Office and say groups remain separate, distanced and well-behaved.
“The necessity to enforce a 24/7 alcohol prohibited area during the peak of Covid-19 restrictions was an understandable one, but let’s not use this as a justifiable excuse to enforce the ban permanently,” John said.
“Can you just leave The Office alone?”
Manly Ward Councillor Sarah Grattan said she had not heard of any troubles policing the area or with compliance with public health orders, stating the community was “largely respectful and sensible.”
“We have enough restrictions on us at the moment. If the users of our community assets like East Esplanade can remain considerate of the neighbours, then we’ll be able to all enjoy the few freedoms that we have left, including have a cheeky glass of wine whilst watching the sunset at East Esplanade,” she said.
Deputy Mayor Candy Bingham said calls to ban booze at The Office came around almost every year, and each time the majority call for it to be left alone.
“I fought to have this 8pm time formalized some years ago and still fully support this. The area has a wonderful vibe,” she said.
“I have worked closely with Council staff and the local area police commander to ensure that the area is monitored regularly and that no anti-social behaviour is tolerated. Last summer this worked well, with the area becoming a popular picnic spot for families and friends.”
“Manly is 90 per cent apartments and areas such as East Esplanade provide an important space for people to meet, have a quiet drink and watch the sunset. It’s been going on for decades, we have simply formalized the alcohol permitted hours.”
A petition, started under the name Anderson Hunter, has about 5,000 signature and can be viewed here: https://www.change.org/…/councillor-pat-daley-save-the…
Agenda documents and a link to the council meeting addressing the issue will be available via here: https://www.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/council/meetings
The Manly Community Forum represents residents living around these areas, and can be contacted here: https://www.manlycommunityforum.com
Manly Observer will report on the outcome of the vote.