The headlines on tough new rules on Road Side tributes/shrines paint Unley Council as lacking in compassion for the grieving families of those of us who have unfortunately lost their life in traumatic circumstances.
So is Council demonstrating a lack of compassion or is their new policy based in compassion?
Last Monday night Council debated and passed a new Memorials Policy.
Until now Council has not had a policy to guide Elected Members and the Administration in the management of ad hoc memorials. The new policy was intended to promote fair and consistent management of both temporary and more permanent memorials.
Our Administration felt a “Memorials” policy would provide guidance for the public and Council re the type and placement of memorials. Much of the policy focuses on the management of permanent memorials. The Policy examines what form a permanent memorial in and around Council property (parks and gardens, ovals etc) may take and where and how it may be placed.
Council has always been empathetic to the grief that has prompted a temporary shrine or memorial. We have however had to deal with those in our community inconvenienced by a memorial. Often the memorial has overflowed onto footpaths restricting clear access for pedestrians.
Council does have a legislated responsibility to maintain the amenity of the area and public safety. We are obliged to maintain the streetscape and parks etc to a standard which is acceptable to the majority of the community.
The intention then of the policy is to keep a balance between allowing the public to express their grief or enjoy a celebration whilst respecting the right of people who live or work adjacent the memorial site and to enjoy ready access to their property. Having clear guidelines about what may be permitted including time frames for roadside memorials addresses this balancing act and actually provides guidance to Coucnil officers when dealing with this conflict.
There is therefore in my no pinion no Lack of Compassion in the making of this policy. Far from it. Compassion indeed I believe was at the forefront of developing this property. I applaud our administration in developing the policy and Coucnil for approving it.