By Taylor Clyne
MONDAY night’s Dorset Council meeting was held at the Derby Town Hall in front of a packed gallery of locals, eager to voice their concerns about the town.
Mayor Greg Howard opened up public question time and Derby residents’ hands shot into the air, all looking to explain their issues which they believed had previously fallen on deaf ears.
40-year resident Terry Smith stated that the mountain biking craze had turned their lives upside down over night.
“This is our home and the people who come here don’t treat it like their home, they treat it like Disneyland,” he said.
“There are many issues that are not being addressed, and no proper consultation has been made with the residents.
“I don’t think you [Council] realised how many people were going to come here. The infrastructure isn’t adequate, there are a lot of unhygienic practices going on in camp sites,” Mr Smith explained to councillors.
Residents explained that issues are happening in the town on a daily basis and wanted someone to police the adequate rules.
Anne Dunston spoke on behalf of residents who had major complaints about campers and their practices along the river and in the park, fires, excessive rubbish, thefts, animal safety, misuse of the footpaths, parking issues and more.
“It’s like living in the wild west,” she said.
Derby Hotel owner Virginia Wells said it ‘felt like an invasion’ and wanted to know what consultation had been made with business owners before erecting the no parking signs and yellow line down one side of the road.
“People don’t stop now, they just keep going because there is nowhere to park,” she said.
General Manager Tim Watson was absent from the meeting due to illness, Mayor Greg Howard answered on behalf of Council and took some questions on notice too.
“I don’t disagree that there are issues here, we were caught on the hop a little bit as we didn’t think Derby would take off as quick as it has,” Mayor Howard said.
“We understand there is a need for more showers and toilets and that infrastructure plan will need to be brought forward.
“Councillors have workshopped a number of issues already and are currently in the process of replacing the rubbish bins around the park with a more adequate sized rubbish capacity.
“We will be constructing permanent fire pot facilities in the park and plan to liaise with TasFire about adequate signage in times of high fire danger and total fire bans,” he said.
In relation to Council providing a ‘camp warden’ Mayor Greg Howard explained that a lot of the issues raised were actually ‘police matters’.
“If you have people acting illegally, like you’ve described, you must contact police. Council have no jurisdiction,” he said. “When you introduce something new into a town there is bound to be considerable change and that change is inevitable.
“Despite the massive benefits that bikes have created for the North-East, there will always be people who don’t appreciate the disturbance to their current lifestyle, and therefore don’t want any change.
“It is Council’s role, whereever possible, to minimise the effect on local residents given that change is inevitable,” Mayor Howard said.
Resident Terry Smith said he believed that something positive would come out of the meeting.
“I think some of the information surprised councillors, all the little things add up over time and I hope we can find a solution moving forward,” he said.
Councillor Dale Jessup thanked the residents for their input.
“You have enlightened councillors here tonight, you can be sure that the concerns you’ve raised tonight will be followed up,” Cr Jessup said.
Mayor Howard agreed that more community consultation would take place in the near future