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Council’s night mayor nightmare

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The city council has backed away from a proposal to appoint a ‘night mayor’ for the CBD – because of fears Adelaide’s media would use the term as a “politically damaging” pun.

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Councillors crushed Lord Mayor Martin Haese’s night mayor dreams last night, warning that the media would make a mockery of his proposal.

Central Ward councillor Houssam Abiad told a committee meeting that the media would have “a lot of fun with this”.

Abiad said he feared any public disagreement between the night mayor and Haese could become “a bit of a nightmare” for the council, which could suffer “political damage” as a result.

Haese conceded that he had the most to lose if the council supported the night mayor (proposal) but said that appointing an advocate for the city’s evening economy would be a dream come true for Adelaide’s hospitality industry.

Central Ward councillor David Slama agreed, suggesting it was “arrogant … to think we know everything about our night-time economy”.

But Abiad said he did not believe there was any lack of representation when it came to hospitality in Adelaide, adding that “the Australian Hotels’ Association and the Restaurant & Catering [Industry] Association are very loud”.

Area councillor Anne Moran said it was Haese’s job, and the job of the council, to look after both the daytime economy and the night-time economy.

“The Lord Mayor is the night mayor, and the day mayor,” she said.

“If you feel you can’t fulfil that, you need to have a look at yourself.”

Moran suggested the role was unnecessary, and “very anti-democratic”.

“Do we not know why we [are] sitting at this table? We’re up for the job.”

Scary: How The Advertiser covered Haese's proposal yesterday.

Scary: How The Advertiser covered Haese’s proposal yesterday.

However, Haese said the position would not necessarily have executive power, but would advocate on behalf of Adelaide’s billion-dollar night-time industry, and deliver quarterly or six-monthly reports to the council.

He said the idea had been a success in European cities since it first emerged in the Netherlands in the 1970s, and that Adelaide – a “city of firsts” – would benefit from having the first night mayor in Australia.

By the end of the debate, the council had resolved to ask for information from its staff on “options to add value to the night-time economy” without mentioning the night mayor proposal specifically.

Haese urged Abiad to add an investigation of the merits of a night mayor to the motion, but the councillor objected to any individual holding such a role, instead favouring a night-time economy “task-force”.

The issue will be put to bed at a full council meeting next week.

Council to remove uni footbridge ‘love locks’

The council also endorsed a plan to remove the ‘love locks’ from Adelaide University footbridge last night.

An engineers’ report presented to the council suggested there was a “low-level risk” that someone may sustain an injury walking or cycling into one, and a possibility that the weight of the locks could one day compromise the structural integrity of the bridge, but not for at least a decade.

The council voted to support a $30,000 art installation near the bridge, on which lovers could attach their metal romantic tributes instead – despite a warning from Haese that there was no guarantee anyone would attach their metallic tributes to the artwork, and may continue to attach them to the bridge in spite of the council.

Abiad amended the motion to ensure the artwork would be complete before the council starts removing the locks, which would be after a further, three-month amnesty period.

The issue will return to a full council meeting next week.

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