In a David vs Goliath struggle, regular users of Jacobs Ladder have led the charge that scored a win over City of Perth (CoP). Common sense prevailed. The City could not close the steps unless their status was changed from street to mall – and CoP needed the approval of the Minister for Lands to do this. The Minister, Terry Redman, refused.
The City of Perth council previously voted unanimously to accept the Works Committee report that recommended Jacob's Ladder be closed from 7pm to 7 am every day.
CoP gave several reasons for its attempts to close the steps. One of the most persistent was that local residents had complained about the noise from step climbers. Perth Now, the online version of The Sunday Times published a story attributed to CoP. It claimed 40% of respondents to a survey of local residents complained about the noise. Gavan O’Connor, a regular climber was surprised. He obtained the actual figures.
CoP said they’d sent out 400 questionnaires, 36 were returned of which 2 complained about the noise.
“Step climbing has two advantages over exercises at a gym”, said Mr. O’Connor. “For a start, it’s free. More importantly, it exercises the muscles we all use every day – heart and legs.”
Jacob’s ladder opened in 1909 and runs from Mount Street to Cliff St, providing 24/7 access between the park and the lake, bird sanctuary and riverfront. It is a popular viewing platform for tourists and essential walkway for those who work at the Mount Hospital and nearby businesses. Walking and running the 242 steps has also made it an invaluable “keep fit” venue for thousands of ordinary people over many years.
This kind of behaviour by complaining residents harks back to the bad old days when local renters could close down historical bars and hotels because of the noise. Local communities lost so many invaluable social assets and meeting places, many of them turned into residential developments.
Now, in an age where the city and state is spending billions to enhance the CBD and improve our health, it seems a few local residents in the ear of the council are all it takes to restrict more historical community assets.
If you don’t like aircraft noise, don’t move into a house near the airport. If you don’t like noise of a few people exercising in the morning, go live in the country.