Controversial rally stage at Rockleigh approved
A stage of the 2022 Adelaide Hills Rally will go ahead at Rockleigh and Monarto despite firm resistance from some residents.
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A controversial motor sport event will go ahead at Rockleigh this October after winning final approval from the Murray Bridge council.
More than a dozen residents had fiercely protested against plans to host a stage of the Adelaide Hills Rally in the area, saying it would harm animals and put locals’ lives and property at risk.
But councillors voted 6-1 in favour of the event at a meeting on Monday night.
Cr Fred Toogood said he was satisfied that residents would have adequate emergency services while roads were closed for the race, and Cr Andrew Baltensperger said he had spoken to locals who were strongly in favour of it.
Cr Wayne Thorley said Ultimate Motorsport Events’ offer to hold a street party on East Terrace, Murray Bridge during the weekend of the rally had changed his mind.
“After two years of COVID, the hospitality industry in our town needs a bit of support from us,” he said.
Karen Eckermann was the only councillor who opposed the rally.
She said it was not suited to a quiet “horse paradise” like Rockleigh, that it would damage local roads, and that the merits of hosting it had been over-inflated.
“Just because an event has been offered to us, that’s not enough for me,” she said.
“We can exercise our discretion – we’re not obliged to facilitate it.”
Some residents opposed the rally until the end
Three residents had begged councillors not to approve the rally before the decision was made.
Josephine O’Toole quoted from Motorsport Australia’s own risk warning and disclaimer, which stated that motor sport was “inherently dangerous” and carried “significant risk of injury, disability or death”.
The document noted that, by agreeing to attend an event, spectators accepted that risk.
But what about residents who did not consent to an event going past their front gate?
“This rally is parasitic in nature,” she told councillors.
“It feeds on our community … in order to make a profit.
“It gives back nothing.”
She also argued that the council had failed to follow its own event policy by neglecting to make certain documents available to the public five months ahead of the rally.
Maude O’Toole argued that the rally cars would scare away native birds, while Rosie Spottiswoode said she had twice been run off the road by drivers she claimed were hooning around, testing out the rally course for themselves.
Although the decision did not go the way those three residents had wanted, Mayor Brenton Lewis said he was satisfied that a fair process had been followed.
About 75 households had been contacted about the rally proposal in recent months, he said.
About 15 locals voiced concerns about the event at a meeting last month.
Rally will go ahead in October
The 2022 Adelaide Hills Rally will kick off with a street party on East Terrace, Murray Bridge on the evening of Thursday, October 20.
Most of the weekend’s racing will take place at the Bend Motorsport Park over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 21 to 23.
However, competitors will fan out through the eastern Adelaide Hills on the Saturday to race along a route stretching from Monarto to Mount Torrens.
Under a modified plan for the Monarto-Rockleigh stage, racers will travel along Frahns Farm, Wattle, Disher Hill, Preammima and Anders Roads; then drive quietly to a second starting point on Law Road and head along Panican Hill and Critchley Roads.
More information: ume.cool/ahr.