Cottesloe residents have to pay permits for swings and slides on the front verges

The municipality of Cottesloe, in Perth’s western beachfront suburbs, has voted to charge residents $300 for a permit and a $100 annual fee to install playground equipment on their berm.

Although it has come in for strong criticism from some residents and local government minister John Carey, Cottesloe Mayor Lorraine Young said it was a solution that allowed the council to have appropriate insurance and carry out safety inspections of the equipment. to feed.

†[This] The result will allow residents to use the roadsides for playground equipment, without exposing the city to the risks that could arise from a claim by someone injured using the equipment,” said Ms Young.

She said the risks could be quite small, but the implications, particularly for smaller local governments, were potentially significant.

“If we have equipment placed on the roadside without making sure it’s safe, there’s a chance our insurance won’t cover us.”

A wide shot of Broome Street in Cottesloe, showing large block sizes, green lawns and Norfolk pines
Many streets in Cottesloe have unusually large house verges.ABC news: Hugh Sando

Many of Cottesloe’s streets have unusually wide shoulders. It is also one of Perth’s most expensive suburbs, with average home prices currently at $2,785,000.

Because many newly built homes leave little space for backyards, Ms. Young said some residents wanted to make more use of their roadside space for children to play.

“We’re seeing increased use of berms, which is fantastic, but with really pretty important equipment,” she said.

She said no insurance claims had been filed with the council regarding playground equipment to date.

A close up photo of WA Housing Secretary John Carey with trees in the background.
John Carey has rejected Cottesloe’s decision to charge for roadside use.ABC News: Eliza Laschon

Mr Carey strongly criticized the decision.

“It’s absolute madness,” he said.

“I think the most telling comment from the mayor was when she was asked how many incidents there were to date – it was zero.

Minister says it can be free

Mr Carey said the city of Vincent, in the inner-north part of Perth, could have negotiated with its insurer to allow swings and cubbies on the roadsides without charging residents.

He said it came down to how people saw local government.

“Is it just a regulator putting up unnecessary hurdles?” he said.

“Or is it a counselor who says, ‘Okay, we have a problem… let’s try to solve this’.”

He said the community would lose because fewer people would use their roadsides.

ABC Radio Perth listeners were divided on the merits of paying for a license to use the space in front of their home.

Evelyn: “Is the municipality going to check at every roadside tree whether it is safe to climb up? Ridiculous.”

Michelle: “It is great that Cottesloe allows playground equipment on the verge. It is a very small municipality and it is not surprising that they have to insure themselves against this risk.”

cara: “If municipalities are responsible for roadsides, why are residents responsible for their maintenance?”

Adam: “The approach taken by the council in Cottesloe is fair enough. The equipment is on council land so anyone who has been injured can sue the council. The compensation would go to insurance and make sure the equipment is in good condition. Why should I subsidize the risk as a tariff payer?”

No claims since 2017

Vincent’s mayor, Emma Cole, said the council has not received any claims regarding playground equipment on the verge since the council allowed them.

“In 2017 I had just become mayor. We’d had swings in our trees, residents loved them, and you’d go through some of our leafy streets. We’ve got nice roadside trees, and you’d see the odd swing here and there” said Mrs. Cole.

“They added to the vibrancy. It’s really nice to see a kid swinging in the tree as you walk down the street, or when kids are walking down the road and playing a bit as they go.”

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Cottesloe residents may have to pay upwards of $400 to have playground equipment nearby
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However, in 2017, the municipality received a complaint, prompting them to discuss the matter with their insurer.

“We negotiated with the insurer, we didn’t actually have any extra costs and we have adjusted our policy,” she says.

“I feel we have paved the way for other local authorities to be able to have this discussion with their insurer based on the evidence that we have not had increasing insurance claims from our swings and cubby houses.

“We still have the standard liability claims that really mostly come down to the more mundane things, like the footpath.”

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