On a damp and misty winters evening, more than seventy rally supporters attended the council meeting in Stirling to show their support for the continuation of tarmac rallying in the Adelaide Hills district. The gallery was so full that councillors were even taking photos of the crowd, likely proof that there have never been so many attendees to a council meeting. Around twenty attendees, almost all of whom are local residents, spoke in the open forum in favour of the rally including Brian Gilbertson from the SA Tourism Commission, Mark Perry from Octagon, Tom Gilbert from Adelaide Hills Toyota, Deviation Road Wines’ Hamish Laurie, Tim Knappstein, Tim Possingham, Douglas Glover, the infamous Phil Williams (who’s Dad also fought the cause while speaking on another matter), outright AHTR podium finisher Andrew Booker and AHTR outright winner Dennis Sims. Michael Clements thanked council for allowing the Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally to proceed, and David Morgan, CEO of CAMS, was also in attendance. The only person to speak in opposition of the rally was a ratepayer who was concerned that local residents were being forced to give up their civil liberties for a non essential activity.
Mark Perry and the Clerk of Course of Targa Adelaide were then questioned by the councillors. Several councillors raised their genuine concerns, all of which were dealt with by Perry in a professional and accommodating manner. The results of a recent survey distributed to all 40,000 residents of the council were discussed. The council had so far received 1,700 back – 60% in favour of rallying, 30% against it and 10% indifferent.
Councillors were impressed by Octagon’s willingness to accommodate the concerns of the community and voted in favour of holding the rally. A particularly heart-warming moment was when Councillor Kate Hosking, a staunch anti rally councillor, voted in favour of the rally based on what she had seen in the past few weeks.
So is this a win for rallying? Yes and no. It is important to note that council haven’t voted in favour of rallying in general, they have voted to allow the 2012 Targa Adelaide to proceed. The same council refused road closures for the upcoming Rally SA ARC round, and approval for the AHTR was only granted by one vote just a few weeks ago. The council are currently working on a policy specifically relating to the closure of roads for rallying, of which this current motion requires the input of CAMS and Octagon. This will give rally organisers a clear set of boxes that must be ticked to get road closures, but by the same token Octagon’s involvement in the drafting of the policy may mean that it is impossible for the smaller clubs to tick those boxes. A win for Octagon and Targa Adelaide? Definitely. A win for rallying in general? We’ll have to wait and see.