FOI request uncovers WSL involvement in raised walkway at Winki
Ah, democracy! It's the worst form of government, except for all the others. Where the power is vested in the people, yet beyond voting many democratic processes are veiled from civic eyes. Yeah, the public can get involved, but a complex web of plans, codes, and legislation that cuts across three levels of government both confuses and discourages the mug punter. So, every three years you cast your vote and cross your fingers.
Thank heavens, then, for determined community groups with a head for process and a gut for instinct.
You may be aware of the ongoing stoush down Bells way, with the local council proposing a permanent raised walkway overlooking Winkipop. Local surfers oppose the walkway as both unecessary and the thin edge of the wedge for further Bells development - the latter a rational fear in a rapidly urbanising landscape.
Adding further intrigue were accusations that the World Surf League were somehow involved. That the League - who are based in Santa Monica, California, but for two weeks each year run the Rip Curl Pro at Bells - were colluding with council to force the project.
In the last few days, the Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast branch and Maurice Cole received a reply to a Freedom of Information request, and their suspicions were confirmed: the Wozzle were involved in the project.
In fact, in 2018 the Woz even invited two Surf Coast councillors to Hawaii, ostensibly to help them secure the Pipeline Masters which at the time had lost its City of Honolulu permit. It's unclear how the councillors would facilitate this, but the optics, as they say, ain't good.
Below is just one of a tranche of documents between the WSL and Council, while underneath that are Mayor David Bell's Hawaiian holiday updates.
Late last month, presumably in response to the tenacious local campaign, the Woz offically withdrew their support for the walkway. However, despite the WSL's support being a major plank in their argument, and it now being taken away, the council has decided to continue with the raised walkway project.
And thus the fight goes on, though now the council face an emboldened local crew whose sense of treachery has been vindicated.
Watch this space...