No Christmas grinch lurking in Livingstone’s corridors of power

YEPPOON Senior Citizens Association members are the latest to benefit from an act of council goodwill.

The group asked Livingstone Shire Council if it would grant members exemption from paid parking regulations for five hours on the day of their upcoming Christmas party function at Keppel Bay Sailing Club.

Things didn’t look good for the senior citizens when council officers recommended no exemption be granted and that paid parking should still apply to them.

Officers said the new regulatory regime for parking, which took effect last month, was designed to be uniform in its application and not favour any group of users over others.

But at Tuesday’s meeting, councillors decided they would use their discretionary powers to go against the recommendation of officers and extend some Christmas cheer to the senior citizens.

“Officers do not have discretion in relation to policy matters,” Mayor Bill Ludwig said in their defence.

“Councillors do have discretion.

“The senior citizens are a valued group in our community.

“Many of them are aged and do have disabilities.

“They’re a group that rarely make major requests, so to be making this request at this particular time so that they can enjoy Christmas, I believe we have an obligation to support a fair and reasonable request.”

Cr Ludwig said the council had previously granted parking concessions to two other community groups and it should continue to assess such applications on a case-by-case basis.

Cr Nigel Hutton said he fully supported providing leniency on this occasion.

“I think it’s a good outcome,” he said.

“But it should be about quality of access and opportunities so that we don’t have a foreshore that becomes the realm of the tourist, or the realm of those people who are short-term versus those residents who wish to enjoy and use it in a structured way.

“Can we do this every day of the week, of course not.

“(But) this is going to be a weekday, outside of tourist season.

“To my mind it’s about ensuring that our senior citizens, who have in previous years done the cooking, cleaning and serving at their Christmas parties, continue to have the same event but with much less burden on their (ageing) committee members so that they can actually enjoy it.”

Councillors agreed unanimously to accede to the request from the Yeppoon Senior Citizens Association.

They also agreed the resultant lost income from the paid parking area could be calculated and covered through the mayor’s discretionary fund.