Last week the City of Perth council voted unanimously to accept the Works Committee report that recommended Jacob’s Ladder be closed from 7PM top 7 AM every day. There is no appeal and approval by the state government or any of its ministers is not required. A few local residents won. The citizens of the broader Perth community lost.
Jacob’s ladder opened in 1909 and runs from Mount Street to Cliff St, providing 24/7 access between the park and the lake, bird sanctuary and riverfront. It is a popular viewing platform for tourists and essential walkway for those who work at the Mount Hospital and nearby businesses. Walking and running the 242 steps has also made it an invaluable “keep fit” venue for thousands of ordinary people over many years.
Except for a period when the timber steps were removed and concrete steps installed (and the recent hiatus for maintenance), Jacobs Ladder has been open all that time. Unless any local residents are over 107 years old, Jacobs ladder was there when they moved into the area.
The closure is ostensibly because of noise created by morning and evening step-climbers disturbing a few nearby residents. There was once a noise problem from commercial exercise groups. This ceased two or three years ago when they were banned from the steps. Since then, the only sounds have been quiet conversations in between gasps for air.
This kind of behaviour harks back to the bad old days when local renters could close down historical bars and hotels because of the noise. Local communities lost so many invaluable social assets and meeting places, many of them turned into residential developments.
Now, in an age where the city and state is spending billions to enhance the CBD and improve our health, it seems a few local residents in the ear of the council are all it takes to restrict more historical community assets.
If you don’t like aircraft noise, don’t move into a house near the airport. If you don’t like the hoi polloi walking near your apartment, move the hoi polloi. That seems to be the attitude of a few local residents, and the council is willing to comply.
The CoP is not legally obliged to respond to the needs of the wider community, only to its ratepayers – in this case, just a select few! However, it may respond to public pressure. While Jacob’s Ladder may not be important to you personally, if we let this behaviour continue, the next shut down of a local asset will be in your community. If you believe this is a poor decision and local councils should be voting in favour of the wider community, email it on to firstname.lastname@example.org.