A notice of motion is once again before Northern Beaches Council this evening (23 February) to put in place a 24 hour/permanent alcohol ban at “The Office”, the now perhaps-too-famous spot for sundowners at Manly’s East Esplanade.
Manly Observer doesn’t think the motion will have the numbers to pass, but expects some form of amendment or new revised motion may take its place to look at ways to address growing problems at the site.
The notice was foreshadowed in an editorial we wrote late last month, where we said we expected a reaction to drinking at East Esplanade following some unruly behaviour unrelated to the site over the Australia Day weekend.
Still, the councillor hell-bent on banning booze in the area, Cr Pat Daley OAM, will have plenty of support from residents tired of their homes being used “as a toilet”. We have also been given reports from residents of sex and drug activity in the grounds of their appointment blocks.
Previous attempts to ban booze have been quashed by Council and have drawn public ire with many locals asking protect the Manly ‘institution’.
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 is as an alcohol permitted zone from 8am until 8pm at night, has become a quintessential Manly past time for many.
The previous petition to “leave the office alone” received over 5,000 votes and a new one (which we suspect is the same one updated) is circulating which has over 6,000 votes. Curiously, this petition claims Deputy Mayor “Kandy Bingham” (It’s Candy Bingham) no longer supports the Office drinks and has “sold us out”.
Cr Bingham said this was not the true, and she does not believe it should be shut down.
“Althought councillor Pat Daley continues to try to shut down East Esplanade by making it alcohol free, the majority of Manly residents want it to remain as it is,” she said.
“The challenge of course is to find a way to manage the area better so that nearby residences aren’t affected by the morons who continue to urinate in their premises…
“People have always enjoyed a drink to watch the sunset down at East Esplanade. The challenge continues to to be that as the area becomes more and more popular larger groups are gathering, many drinking excessively. The area is intended to be a picnic area not a beer garden so we continue to look for ways for it to be managed so it can be enjoyed by all, and not shut down because of the behaviours of a few.”
Cr Pat Daley on the other hand claims the problem is “out of control” and “setting a very bad standard not only for Manly but also the wider Northern Beaches.”
His motion to council tonight states: “Increasing numbers of people are coming into Manly to drink not only at East Esplanade but also other public parks and beach areas. A large percentage of these people are now coming from other areas of Sydney.
“Due to the deteriorating situation on East Esplanade, Manly is now regarded as an anything goes area where young people can illegally drink in public places. In this environment there is absolutely no responsible service of alcohol and enforcement of underage drinking which happens in hotels.
“Police are trying their best to get on top of the situation however they need all the help they can get. We need to assist the Police not hinder them with poor Council policy. The community now needs to get involved and help the Police.
“This motion is the start of a community fight back against the increasing problem of alcohol and drug abuse and related antisocial behaviour not only in Manly but also the wider Northern Beaches.”
Manly Observer is unable to provide its usual live or fast turn around summary of the Council meeting, though we will of course follow up outcomes as soon as possible on Wednesday. Those particularly interested can observe the action live from 6pm via webcast on the Council’s website. https://video.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au
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