Rallying needs you!

Without trying to sound alarmist, the future of rallying in South Australia (both gravel and tarmac) is under VERY serious threat at the moment. If you’re reading this blog it’s highly likely that you care about motorsport in South Australia, so I ask you to take the time to read this article. As a large group of enthusiasts we have the power in numbers to effect lasting change, and I’ll end the article with a simple but vital call to action: Email the councillors of Adelaide Hills Council (addresses supplied at bottom) stating your position, and if possible attend the next Council meeting on Tuesday 22nd May in Stirling.

The temporary closure of public roads for the purpose of rallying is not something that should be taken lightly, it is most certainly a privilege and we must never forget that. However, there are many reasons why local councils and the community allow their roads to be temporarily closed for car rallies, and have for many decades. Rally events give competitors a place to safely participate in their chosen sport; they give thousands of spectators an enjoyable day out and they provide significant financial benefit to local economies.

But most importantly, along with countless other community events, they go a long way toward making South Australia such a fantastic place to live. It’s these types of events that form the fabric of our very society, giving us the freedom to enjoy and experience a wide spectrum of sporting and cultural activities. Key to this is compassion and understanding, and the willingness to put up with minor inconvenience for the greater benefit of the community. Until last year I’d never participated in the City-Bay fun run, but it never bothered me that the Western Suburbs were effectively bisected in two for one morning a year and it was tricky to get anywhere in that area. It was a small price for me and the other motorists to pay so all those people could go and do something they love. And society largely shares the same view, be it for the Norwood food & wine festival, The Fringe festival, amatuer cycling races, triathlons, horse trials, Christmas pageants, concerts and that excellent Waymouth Street party that closed an entire city block one Friday evening.

I’m sure most of you have read in the media about the resistance of some ‘anti motorsport’ councils to refuse the closure of roads for some events, most notably the Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally and Rally SA. If you haven’t, see here. Believe it or not, but the serious problems facing the sport of rallying at the moment seem to be stemming from an extremely small (as little as 5) but hugely vocal minority of residents who live in some of the council areas and are having their views upheld by councillors. We know that their views are extremist and only representative of a tiny number of affected residents (in the past 7 years, I’ve met countless local residents who love having the rally pass their homes), so why is this tiny handful of people getting their way?

Because they are committed to their cause. Some have been described as passionate, others have been described as unruly and hurling abuse towards rally organisers and councillors. But either way, they do not care about the live and let live attitude of the great majority of Australians, and they have been led to believe by certain ignorant sections of the media that motorsport equals hoons. They are sending letters, calling their members of parliament, attending every council meeting and they are determined to get their way.

There are several parties and individuals who are all extremely pro rally, (chiefly the organisers of our events) who are working hard to save our events and our sport, but they are in effect representing a large number of people that are remaining silent. That’s us. We all sit back and shake out heads at ridiculous anti-democratic decisions being made by councils, but up until now we are not showing the councils our weight in numbers.

The councillors who are voting on these issues aren’t bad people, and the councils themselves aren’t evil organisations. They are just doing what they think their job is – representing the views of their taxpayers.

But the councillors, like most South Australians, don’t really have much of an opinion either way. They’d rather the whole issue just disappeared. But what is happening is that the very angry and vocal group of 5 or 6 residents are intimidating the councillors who in turn are not seeing the same passion in the opposing view, and are siding with these residents just to keep the peace. But what they don’t realise is that they are not actually representing the views of the majority of ratepayers. Before the recent Classic Targa Adelaide event, Octagon sent out 1,700 letters to residents affected by road closures asking them to contact to discuss their thoughts. There were just 5 responses.

So how do we help? We need to show the councillors that they will be representing the vast majority by securing the future of rallying in their council areas.

Firstly:

If you are an Adelaide Hills Council resident you will have received (or be about to receive) a survey enclosed in the latest edition of the Adelaide Hills Voice council publication. The survey is accompanied by a reply paid envelope (which shows they are serious about finding out what people think.) It has the following three questions:

1) Do you support road rallies in our council area? (yes/no)

2) If road rallies were to continue in the future, is it important to you for the route to be varied regularly? (No/yes every years / yes every two years)

3) If a road rally closed a road you used, how long would you accept it being closed for? (3hours 4hours 5hours, circle one)

4) Comments.

Please fill this survey out with as much support as you can and urge your neighbours and fellow residents to do the same.

Secondly:

Please email every councillor who will be making a decision about the future of our sport, even if you do not live in the AHC council area. Feel free to draft your own polite and supportive message, or copy the below template:

Please place “Attention CEO Mr Peter Peppin and AHC Councillors” in the
subject area.

Dear Mr Peppin

(Future of rallying in South Australia)

As a resident of the Adelaide Hills Council Area, or one of the many
thousands of supporters of rallying, I wish to let you and the other
councillors know that I, and wide range of my family and friends are
extremely supportive of these events. We regularly attend these events and
will continue to do so, thereby supporting the many business and tourism
facilities within the Adelaide Hills Council areas. 

We feel that closing the roads for only 5 hours is not excessive, and are
happy for the same or similar roads to be used by organisers as needed.

We would like to strongly urge you to continue your greatly appreciated
support of these events.

My name is

My address is

Many thanks in anticipation

(Please copy all of these email addresses and paste them into the “to” field of your email)

mail@ahc.sa.gov.au
bspragg@ahc.sa.gov.au
Rnelson@ahc.sa.gov.au
Jcwisdom@ahc.sa.gov.au
Ibailey@ahc.sa.gov.au
Jloveday@ahc.sa.gov.au
Khosking@ahc.sa.gov.au
Sjones@ahc.sa.gov.au
Jkemp@ahc.sa.gov.au
Bgale@ahc.sa.gov.au
Lritchie@ahc.sa.gov.au
Lvonow@ahc.sa.gov.au
Lgreen@ahc.sa.gov.au
Mherrmann@ahc.sa.gov.au

If you would like to add further support you can copy the above template, print it and post it to:

Attn Peter Peppin
CEO Adelaide Hills Council
PO Box 44. Woodside SA 5244

Please ask to have the written letter distributed to all councillors

Thirdly

Please link this article to as many people as you can that will support our cause. This may include other forums or groups, or family and friends (in particular those who live in the Adelaide Hills council area.)

Fourthly

If you can spare the time, the council will be meeting on this issue at their general meeting on Tuesday 22nd May in Stirling at the Council Chambers Behind Coventry Library, Stirling. 6.30pm sharp.

Please attend with friends and other rate-paying family members who may want
to help strengthen our efforts. Whilst it is more important to get as many residents of the Adelaide Hills Council to attend as possible, please also come if you support rallying in general but live in a different council area. A large scale show of numbers will highlight how important this cause is to us, and how important it is to local communities.

There is a possibility that there will be extremely vocal and angry anti rally people there. DO NOT GET SUCKED INTO CONFRONTATION. We need to show the councillors (and quite possibly the media who may be covering the meeting) that we are the voice of mature reason. We will never convince these people that they are wrong, we will only be able to convince the councillors to over rule them.

If the council rules against motorsport, it will likely spread like wild fire through all council areas, and very shortly we will be left without this sport and the wonderful experiences, friendships and enjoyment that come with it.

# #

About the author

andrewcoles.eighteleven@gmail.com:


4 Comments

  1. Kim Michelmore May 16, 2012 Reply

    One thing that rally participants and spectators are often credited with is spending money in the area and supporting the local community. It is important that participants and spectators tell the local community that they are there spending their money because of the rally. If you need to fill the tank then rather than fill up in the city, wait til you are in the zone, fill up and tell them you are there for the rally, tell the girl in the Bakery, the guy in the chicken shop and the barmaid at the pub - even better stay overnight and tell your accommodation provider. Let them attach the word Rally to those dollars so when the question is raised by the Council they can remember the Rally income - money speaks!

    • Andrew Coles May 17, 2012 Reply

      Good idea! You're definitely right - we're all going to be out spending money, but it's no use if nobody knows why we're there. And that's a good idea about the petrol, I'll make sure to save my fill ups :)

  2. Laura May 16, 2012 Reply

    Hi Andrew,
    I have recieved an email reply from Simon Jones (AHC Councillor), after questioning him regarding the closure of a section due to what had been reported as a single resident on a road objecting to that road being used - therefore the cancellation of that section, Simon reported that there was a majority vote from residents in that section to cancel it 'on very good grounds''!!.

    I think we as an open and accepting sporting community need to demand that feedback from the residents (as per the above survey they were sent) in the AHC area be transparent as I fear that an unfavorable result may be made simply to 'grease the squeeky wheel'.

    The feedback that I have been provided by Simon James reagarding the minority v's majority support for rallying in this area is not equating to the percentages that are being reported from other sources. We need to influence as many AHC residents to support rallying as possible!!!

    • Andrew Coles May 17, 2012 Reply

      Yep, I completely agree. They're not going to heavily publicise these figures. Another idea someone mentioned on Facebook is to keep an accurate record of how much money you spent, what it was on and where you spent it.

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