Council To Invite Political Parties to Visit Dangerous Cliff

Published on 10 October 2018

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The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council will invite representatives of all political parties to attend an inspection of The Pillars, a cliff in Mount Martha where an increasing number of young people risk death or serious spinal injury by cliff jumping.

The council last night voted unanimously to close the site as a result of major legal advice which raised serious liability questions for the council and ratepayers.                       

Cr. Bryan Payne, Mayor of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, said through exposure via social media the situation at The Pillars is out of control and the only option is to close it off permanently. 

“A number of incidents at The Pillars have resulted in Emergency Services being called and Hospitals being involved.

“Litter, broken glass, vandalism to private property, urinating and defaecating in local streets, swearing, fighting and aggressive behaviour have all been reported by residents. These activities occur both in the surrounding streets and at The Pillars regularly. 

“Over the last three years through social media, the problems at The Pillars has increased dramatically. This site is not set up to support a high level of visitation and basically the Victorian Government, Parks Victoria and the local community have lost control of the situation as a public safety and law and order issue.” 

Cr. Payne said the onsite safety inspection today and the invitation to all political parties to attend is the start of a campaign in the interest of public safety to gain bipartisan support to close the site to public use, reduce the danger to the community, especially through cliff jumping, and the misuse of the site.  

“Currently The Pillars operates as a defacto major tourism operation in a residential zone which does not conform with any Victorian Government Planning, Environment, Health, Pollution or Public Safety Legislation.”

The Council believes it is time that there is a coordinated strategy to close this site down instead of waiting for serious injuries given the evidence at hand and the other associated issues which include:

Submerged Rocks below Water which varies in Depth
The water depth adjacent to The Pillars varies with submerged rocks in some areas. Combined with varying tides (which visitors are not necessarily aware of) and boats and jet skis in the water, jumping from these cliffs carries a high-risk of injury.

Dangerous Unstable Cliff Edges
Due to erosion created by the high visitation some areas around the cliff edge are unstable and slippery.

Destruction of Vegetation and Erosion of Sensitive Areas
The increased and unmanaged visitation to the site has had a detrimental impact on vegetation, Aboriginal cultural heritage and the environment. This has resulted in trampling and damage to vegetation, erosion of the sensitive environments.  liff areas, damage to middens and other significant cultural heritage assets, and significant amounts of litter.

Fire Trap 
Vehicles parked on both sides of residential streets limit vehicle access through the streets, sometimes prevent residents accessing their driveways, and impedes emergency access to these residential areas. Access for emergency vehicles, particularly fire trucks, is a key concern for residents and emergency response services.

Anti-social behaviour
There are reports of frequent littering by visitors to The Pillars, both at the site and in the surrounding residential streets.  Residents frequently find litter on the nature strips and in their gardens. Rubbish bins are currently not provided at The Pillars and public rubbish bins are not provided in the neighbouring streets.

Drunken Behaviour
The consumption of alcohol at The Pillars is a major factor related to reported anti-social and offensive behaviour despite an Alcohol Ban which cannot be enforced.  Litter, broken glass, vandalism to private property, urinating and defaecating in local streets, swearing, fighting and aggressive behaviour have all been reported by residents. These occur both in the surrounding streets and at The Pillars.

Media Enquiries:

Ron Smith, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council – Mobile: 0417 329 201