Thursday, March 4, 2010


The Headmaster of Linkside High has started a debate on closing off access to the PE Golf Course from Wychwood Avenue. According to the "Linkside & Mill Park column, maintained by Peter Thorpe, the argument is to close off public access to the golf course through Wychwood Avenue due to safety concerns. You can download the full newsletter here.

I want to lodge a contrary argument, one that turns our view of crime on its head, and argues that we need to build on the success of the Dedicated Patrol Service (DPS) which has been so good at virtually eliminating crime in Mill Park and Linkside.

The basis of Mr Hay's argument is that to eliminate crime we must secure the criminal areas - ie close off the golf course and so forth. What the DPS experience has actually shown us is the value of securing a community. While people have bought additional individual security, the DPS actually succeeds because a community has clubbed together and bought good protection which has not secured individual properties, but, whole neighbourhoods. People are no longer afraid to walk around Mill Park because we are safe in our community. I would argue that we need to extend the same logic into both the Golf Course and Baakens Valley. Instead of closing off public access, or avoiding the areas completely, lets take them back.

The following sort of things can be done:

1) Firstly, get rid of all the exotic trees such as the Stone Pines on the golf course. However, only remove them once pockets of indigenous vegetation are established. That way we re-establish habitats for wildlife to extend from the valley into their original habitats on the golf course. The empty spaces around the golf course is the best place for pockets of thicket / forest. The thicket provides habitat for birds, but, not for criminals (ever tried to walk through proper indigenous thicket? - only Rhino's can). As the thicket establishes itself, so you remove the Stone Pines.

2) Secondly, build recreational paths along the periphery of the Golf Course and establish a network of recreational trails across the golf course area. Lets start using the area for cycling, running and letting our kids play away from traffic. You can look at a possible route in Google Earth here. Your need to download the Google Earth viewer if you cant open it. Lets use the Golf Course for its original intention - recreation - and make it part of our community. If we don't, its just a matter of time before we see golf estate housing become a reality.

3) Thirdly, why not establish a DPS centre on the Golf Course itself in one of the vacant buildings there and let the DPS officials start patrolling the golf course as well (they are doing it anyway). And while we're about it, why should the DPS be a vehicle based patrol. E-Bikes (or electric bikes)are great for security patrols in residential and recreational areas.

4) Fourthly, lets start putting pressure on the municipality to spend more funds on rangers patrolling the valley. Here we need to work with the Baakens Trust and simply insist that this sort of work gets done.

5) Finally, children commuting to school do so under very dangerous conditions. It is simply not safe for children to commute down a street like Wychwood ave or Wares road. If we don't have bike paths, the car culture will merely continue. A safe recreational path through the golf course, could mean a new generation of scholars commuting to school by bike. If parents were satisfied that its safe, they would encourage it. At present, they can't.

I think the security concerns raised by Mr Hay are commendable and need to be supported. He is anticipating a problem and proposing potential solutions. The easy solution is the proposal which he has made. The more difficult, and correct solution for the longer term is the proposal above.

It is possible to have safe and secure public areas - its not an oxymoron. The benefits are enormous and all it takes is for us as a community to start working together instead of retreating into isolated cocoons of false security. I don't want to live in a community where I don't know my neighbour, where I cant walk the streets in safety and where my children cant walk or cycle to school. Battening down the hatches by closing off public access is only going to worsen the situation and our captains of governance, culture, education and industry need to lead the way!


  1. Some very good points, love the idea of getting rid of the pines and getting bicycle paths through Linkside

  2. Also think you have some valid ideas! How wonderful to be able to cycle on dedicated bicycle paths in our own area. The DPS in Mill Park has been a wonderful community success story, only a pity about the large number of residents that don't contribute, but enjoy 24 hour protection!