Cr McKiterick say plans to license bus operators visiting Bells will go ahead, but denies council is supporting commercial bus operators ahead of the interests of local surfers.
“It is not a question of ‘supporting’ - rather one of finding a balance between the rights of various users and better managing the buses that presently stop at the reserve without any regulation. The Victorian Government has stated that it wants Bells to be available for tourist visitation, which provide significant benefits to Victorians.
“At present buses visiting Bells are unregulated. As now required by the Victorian Government, Council has begun a process of licensing bus operators visiting the reserve. Not to do so would mean allowing commercial operators to run an illegal business. Council sees that only issuing a few licenses and requiring large coaches to park outside the car parks will (a) provide a way to have bus operators put something back into the reserve (b) reduce the number of buses visiting the reserve and (c) encourage more buses to stop at Surf City, in Torquay itself.”
But the Bells Beach Preservation Society, made up of long-time local surfers, say the new parking arrangements at Bells have only worsened the dangers posed by large buses.
“Basically, the buses continued to park in a haphazard manner with some bus drivers disregarding the new parking configuration and associated signage. It is well recorded by us that there was chaos, as there will be every time there is surf and buses,” said Maurice Cole.
“It is my opinion that the car park is less safe than it was before the recent works and that there are significant liability risks for the land managers, should there be a traffic and/or pedestrian accident or injury(s) within the Reserve.”