By ERWIN CHLANDA
Massive costs for traffic control during parades organised by community clubs, and the refusal by both the Town Council and the NT Government to provide substantial relief, were key issues at a small meeting of service club members today.
They gathered to form an umbrella organisation to represent the interests of Rotary, Apex, Lions, Zonta and other volunteer groups: “200 members acting together have more clout,” said the convenor of the meeting, Rotarian John Bridgefoot.
Dave Mortimer, from the Rotary Club of Alice Springs, and the organiser of the annual Bangtail Muster – now in its 54th year – says thousands of dollars, raised for local charities, is flowing to private companies for traffic control, since 2010 provided by volunteers.
The drawing up of traffic management plans and applications, running to 150 pages, can cost as much as $2500.
There are only two main routes in town, a long one and a short one, travelled by the various parades, including Henley on Todd, Bangtail Muster, Anzac Parade and the Alice Desert Festival.
However, a separately drafted plan must be submitted to the council for each event. Why? Because things like the dates vary, Mr Mortimer says he was told by the council.
Council in the past has provided some help but now, while it frequently claims it wants to bring more people into the CBD and the Mall, it has advised it will not in the future provide council staff nor the traffic signs it owns to the volunteer organisations.
The NT Government reimburses to non profit making organisations the fees for drawing up plans, Mr Mortimer told the meeting.
But the actual controlling must be done by licensed staff.
Only one of the three companies providing the service is available on weekends. It charges $120 an hour, for eight staff and four hours, totaling $3840, plus $300 for sign hire. On top of that $142 goes to the Town Council, for the permit.
Mr Mortimer says he’s asked Mayor Damien Ryan if he was aware that the council had withdrawn financial support. Mr Mortimer says the Mayor replied that it was a directors’ decision. Many organisations were using the Mall and they could not all be supported, Mr Ryan told him.
Mr Mortimer says he asked last year if the council would allow its suitably licenced staff to volunteer their services. No, that would be frowned upon.
“Events like the Bangtail Muster parade go to the very core of community spirit,” says Mr Mortimer. “They should be protected and promoted.”
Other issues discussed by the group today were “ochre cards” for working with children, issued after police checks (the cards should be recognised nationally); joint advocacy, marketing, avoidance of clashing dates, lobbying, assisting with getting sponsorship and registration as a charity for tax exemption purposes.
The group will meet again on Sunday, March 9 at 10am at Olive Pink Botanic Gardens. All are welcome.
[The Alice Springs News Online has asked the council and the NT Government for comment.]