Savages Crossing.
Savages Crossing.

OPINION: Savages Crossing Facebook page sparks debate

I've been reading a lot of Facebook forums that have been discussing the changes that have been happening around Savages Crossing and Twin Bridges and I felt the need to make a few points and clarify some misunderstandings within the community. I am the moderator of the Facebook group: Clean Up Somerset Waterways and Parklands.

I'm a big believer in being completely open about my intentions, and I am happy to have open discussions with people about my thoughts . as long as they are respectful and founded in knowledge and research. I have no ties to any particular political or personal agenda, other than trying to make sure these areas are safe, beautiful and protected.

Feel free to criticise me, but just make sure you approach it in an intelligent and informed way. Trolls won't be tolerated, nor people wanting to push their agenda with ignorance for other people in the community. I invite you to join my discussion group as long as you answer all entry questions and abide by the rules of engagement.

READ MORE: Council to restrict vehicle access to popular watering holes

Some people see someone else expressing an opinion that doesn't align with their beliefs, and then they think the entire world is about to explode and humanity is going to collapse in on itself. People just need to calm down and spend time looking at the bigger picture and realise that some compromises will have to be made. Being part of a productive conversation will give them a better chance of at least getting "some" of what they want. Take some time to see others' points of view and learn to have some flexibility.

Somerset Regional Council councillor Sean Choat at Savages Crossing, has been pushing for a clean up and overhaul of the popular watering hole.
Somerset Regional Council councillor Sean Choat at Savages Crossing, has been pushing for a clean up and overhaul of the popular watering hole.

 

If your view disagrees with mine, I won't instantly boot you from my forum, but if you insult me or other people then the likely outcome will be a post from me, asking you to pull your head in or leave. It's called debating, and I don't get paid to listen to insults or tolerate this sort of nonsense on a social media page. In fact I don't get paid at all for this job. I do it for the love of my community.

I don't apologise for starting this conversation. If anyone believes they can do better, then get off your proverbial behind and do the hard yards - that's what I am doing. I don't sit in the background whining and complaining. I do something.

So, here is a summary of some of the things I think are important for me to place on the table:

  • The bollards at Savages Crossing and Twin Bridges were installed to address increasing concerns around Public Health and Safety. There were just too many issues that were unable to be policed effectively by Somerset Regional Council or Queensland Police service, because of jurisdictional issues. This was not for lack of trying on their part. This didn't just happen in two days. There have been ongoing conversations about this issue for years within council and frankly, many locals had given up on fighting the battle. Behaviours at these locations had been unchecked for a long time and as a result, got out of hand. The people who noticed this most were the people that lived nearby, and had to deal with the daily fallout from these locations. It wasn't a knee-jerk reaction … it was something that should have been done long before now.

     

  • The bollards and cameras are an interim measure designed to put an immediate stop to the anti-social behaviour and Public Health and Safety concerns. The behaviours predominantly involved the unsafe use of vehicles, long-term/permanent campers, excessive alcohol and drug consumption in a public place and wilful damage to the river banks and surrounding properties. The anti-social behaviour was NOT the good families and groups just parking on the waters edge having a BBQ. QPS can deal with wilful damage to the bollards and hooning on the adjoining roads and road related areas, but it's not so simple once offences involving vehicles happen within the boundaries of these locations. The issue is so much more than being about "rubbish". Rubbish is a flow on effect from ignorant people who have no respect for their environment or people around them. Putting bins at these locations does not solve the other problems.

  • Other locations such as Fielding Rd and Lowood Bend are also being watched closely and we are trying hard not to bollard these areas off. I have sent emails requesting cameras to be installed at both locations. How these two areas get handled, will depend entirely on how people treat them.

  • The entire stretch of the Brisbane River from the Spillway Common to where the Brisbane River leaves the Somerset Region is of interest to us. All locations have to be looked at together. We don't want to "just move the problem", we want to eliminate the problem, but also allow maximum access and ensure good management.

  • This group is working toward getting SRC to take over custodianship of the "parklands" along the Brisbane River so that legislations can be enacted to protect the areas properly . This will be the major push in the new year. There has been much discussion from the "well-behaved" community regarding their right to access these areas with their vehicles for BBQ's and backing the ute up to the waters edge, etc. I would remind people that this was never allowed in the first place. However, this is where I think people in this position need to stop and listen … and really take note of what this group is trying to do. See next point.

  • Once legislation can be enacted to protect the waterways properly and give local government the ability to manage these areas lawfully, then discussions can be had with SRC to work toward opening up "access roads" so that people can get their vehicles closer to the water again … and legally. I personally would love to see a long access road at Twin Bridges and Savages Crossing that would enable vehicles to traverse (safely) to different locations along the water. This has to be done sensibly too. It would have to take into consideration, natural creeks, shared spaces, and protection of the local environment. I'd also love to see boat ramps at each location too.

  • I don't believe Savages or Twin Bridges will ever be opened up as a 4WD "fun park" so that people can continue to destroy the banks and riparian zone, but I do envisage a track that would have bollards either side to prevent people from just driving everywhere. We will continue to encourage people to take these activities to legal 4WD parks that require you to obey normal traffic laws and are monitored appropriately.

  • SRC also has the 2008 waterways plan … as well as a research paper on The Hills and Savages coming out early next year (2021) … I think some of these ideas are a little ambitious and would require millions of dollars worth of investment … I'd rather see something a bit more simplified and natural … but I thought I'd just table these ideas for those that keep pushing the agenda that this group is a bunch of "fun police" trying to close these areas down

  • For the boaties, I am currently speaking with people who are directly involved in the boating community, and a major topic of discussion is boat, canoe and kayak access. It would be nice to be able to get boat access points at least every 6km on the waterways, and this conversation is always in the forefront of my mind.

  • Take note … These are only MY thoughts and are being given for an insight into my motivations. I don't expect everyone to agree with these, but I am willing to also discuss well thought out solutions from others. I don't believe I am the brain's trust in this area, and I am having conversations with people all the time that have lived along the waterways much longer than I. Education is the key here and co-operation between the community and Somerset Regional Council. Patience is also required.

  • Parking is an issue at times and there are things that may be able to be achieved early in the year. We are listening and working to find better solutions. Continue to do the best you can and park safely. Remember that these areas are flood zones and permanent car parks are not really viable, so use common sense and park sensibly.

     

Thank you to the people who provide encouragement to me to continue fighting this battle. It is great to see so many families enjoying the waterways. Many people who haven't been to these regions for sometime are returning. Many have not frequented these areas due to the culture that had developed.

It's time to create an environment where everyone feels welcome and safe. These waterways are here for all to enjoy, not just a select few, and certainly not hoons or those that can't respect others or the environment they are using.

Grant - Clean Up Somerset Waterways and Parklands


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