Thursday 27 October 2016
Bega Valley Shire Council is about to embark on an independent review of how it manages risks associated with the Shire’s extensive marine infrastructure.
The review follows concern inside and outside the organisation around the automatic closure of Tathra and Merimbula Wharves when significant weather and ocean conditions are forecast.
The procedures in place up until now have been undertaken with community safety in mind, and come from a deep welfare concern that reflects the potential dangers these structures present and their history.
While the review is carried out, as an interim measure Council will relax its approach to closing the Wharves.
Following legal and insurance advice new signage will be erected soon highlighting the dangers and advising the public not to use the Wharves during hazardous weather and surf conditions.
The signage will also direct people to the Bureau of Meteorology website for updated weather information.
Nina Churchward, Executive Manager, Organisational Structure and Governance said the practise of automatically closing these popular spots will stop once the new signage is in place and while the review is completed.
“We understand that the community has been dissatisfied with the approach we have taken in the past, this review will help us better meet those expectations while also properly managing the exposure to risk we manage on behalf of ratepayers,” Ms Churchward said.
The full scope of the review takes in all the Shire’s wharves, jetties, pontoons and boat ramps, which have a current replacement value of over $13 million.
“Risk and insurance matters are increasingly difficult to manage for councils around New South Wales, and as a Council charged with managing one of the longest stretches of coastline in the State we face unique pressures,” Ms Churchward said.
“We are hoping that the interim measures now in place, will become permanent once the review is complete which should be before the end of the year.”
Photograph: Proposed new signage for Tathra and Merimbula Wharves.