By DANIEL LO SURDO
Inner West residents were left bewildered last month as over 90 portable toilets were delivered to foreshore parks in Balmain East and Birchgrove in preparation for New Year’s Eve celebrations, despite Inner West Council declaring the popular vantage points closed over three weeks earlier.
Inner West Council Mayor Darcy Byrne pleaded with residents to continue following the State Government’s COVID-19 restrictions, notwithstanding the portaloos being readied to accommodate large gatherings.
“New Year’s Eve has now become the most dangerous date on the 2020 calendar,” Byrne said.
“Please don’t come to our harbour foreshore parks … we will risk a major, Sydney-wide outbreak of the virus tomorrow.”
Dozens of TFH Hire portaloos were delivered to multiple foreshore parks including Illoura Reserve and Thornton Park on December 30th. Contractors TFH Hire quote $200 and GST for a single fresh-water portaloo. The dozens of toilets were removed from the parks in the early hours of December 31st.
Council directed responsibility for the confusion to the NSW Police, who commanded that the portable toilets be delivered to the Inner West.
“NSW Police had insisted that portaloos be brought into Balmain and Birchgrove parks, despite Council closing all foreshore parks,” a Council spokesperson told the Inner West Independent.
“On 30 December, this decision was reversed in line with Council advice.”
Councillor Stamolis slams Byrne’s response
The Independent understands Council activated teams of staff to prepare the foreshore parks in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve. The maintenance was conducted only days prior to the portaloo’s arrival in the Inner West.
“It was [as] though Council was actively working to have something going on at our foreshore parks,” Stamolis told the Inner West Independent.
“If [Byrne] wants to blame police for the portaloos, then who authorised all the cleaning up and preparing of the parks?”
Foreshore parks were declared closed by Council for New Year’s Eve on December 8th. The decision was made to ensure the safety of Inner West residents in the festive season and to avoid a new cluster developing amidst the Council-run events.
Stamolis believes Council should assume responsibility for the mishap rather than shifting blame onto Sydney’s frontline workers.
“It’s highly inappropriate that [Byrne] lays blame on our essential services, who are doing everything to protect our community, and because of a mistake of Council,” Stamolis said.
“If Council has made a mistake, we made a mistake, and we don’t blame the police.”
Foreshore parks in Balmain East and Birchgrove have long been staples of the Inner West’s New Year’s Eve celebrations. The parks offer perfect vantage points for the Sydney Harbour fireworks and welcome hundreds of guests each year for the event.