Two residents spoke against the proposed sale of the previous Council Administration site and reminded the Mayor of promises made to return the skating rink to those that built it.
When the issue came up for debate, some Councillors chose not to be part of that process and left the chambers. I stayed, simply to register my vote against the sale of the land irrespective of buyer. My view is that Council leases the land, never sells it, especially considering its historical significance. The fact that it was purchased by a Government Department does not make it more appealing. The loss to future generations is practically irreversible and restricts the ability of the Whitlam Leisure and Sporting Complex to expand to meet the needs of predicted population growth.
Notice of Motions (NOM) included that Council reaffirm its opposition to Badgerys Creek Airport, as it has done for decades. That motion was modified, WSROC (Western Sydney Regional Organisation Of Councils) has a substantial input and is wavering in terms of the possible benefits an airport may provide. Seems job generation is of primary importance while environment and noise concerns become secondary.
While job generation is vital to our area, bear in mind that specialised staff are needed to operate an airport. Australia is currently suffering an acute shortage of skilled workers. (Thanks to decades of Federal Governments redirecting funding away from TAFE and to give it to private providers instead.) To partially address that issue the Federal Government has issued in excess of 100,000 special 457 visas to allow overseas skilled workers into jobs that cannot readily be filled by local workers. Job opportunities for locals would remain relatively small; compare that to the impact of an airport on local communities, especially with a predicted population growth from 180,000 to over 330,000 in the next 25 years. Consider too that 50% of 457 visa holders settle in Australia, meaning their jobs will not go to local residents.
I presented an Urgency NOM to address Air Pollution problems close to known sources of dust pollution and on the basis that the proposed Moorebank Recycling Facility is under consideration by the State Governments’ Planning Authority. Submissions close by the 5th of April. Part of the NOM requests Council to enter a submission opposing the facility.
I receive several emails each day from objectors to the Moorebank proposal. Hence the NOM requesting the State Government implement additional air quality monitoring stations close to known toxics producing sources. Council is unaware of present levels other than those measured by the NSW Environment Protection Authority or NSWEPA. According to the NSWEPA Liverpool suffers from poor air quality, often up to several times per week. The NSWEPA issues warnings suggesting that those with respiratory and heart problems do not exercise outdoors. Those warnings are based on measurements taken at Liverpool City Councils’ Rose Street Depot, several km from known toxics particle producing (PM10 and PM2.5) sources located at Prestons, Chipping Norton and Moorebank.
Here is a link to air quality monitoring information from the NSWEPA: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/AQMS/aqi.htm Liverpool on the map refers to the Rose Street Monitoring Station. Stored information dates back several months. January and February 2013 were of particular concern. The NOM requests the co-operation and support of several Government Departments and elected representatives.
Over the last two years several incidents have occurred and attracted media attention to toxics dust in Chipping Norton and Prestons. Similarly the JRPP (Joint Regional Planning Panel) requested additional air quality monitoring reports prior to determining a Development Application (DA) for modifications to an existing Recycled Waste Transfer Station at Yarrawah Road in Prestons. That facility operates some 150 metres from schools, child care centres and medium density residential housing estates. Bear in mind that the Rose Street Air Quality monitoring station is some 7km away and may not be in the air flow path. It is also a fact that the proprietors of that facility have been fined several times by both Liverpool City Council and the NSWEPA for breaches relating to outdoor stockpiles of materials known to contain toxic substances. There have also been regular complaints of noise and dust pollution caused by the facility operating outside approved DA hours.
A NOM relating to Quarter Budget Reviews was defeated by the combined Liberal Councillors and Mayor. The NOM was intended to address the questionable practice of allocating budget surpluses to projects that have not been costed or prioritised in Councils annual budget plans. The current practice allows Councillors with the “numbers” to allocate funding to whatever they choose. Invariably Councillors “pet projects” or that of a “lobby group” is implemented and without due consideration by all Councillors. I supported the motion, but it appears those with the power to abuse don’t. In my view the current practice contravenes sections 402 to 405 of the Local Government Act of 1993. I will be looking at this in more detail.
DA’s were approved, most unanimously, Councils recommendations followed.
I question the use of Council funding for overseas disaster relief on the basis that the Federal Government has that responsibility, not local government. I believe it is wasteful and unnecessary, especially if the Federal Government has already provided substantial disaster relief funding. Council’s contributions rarely make a difference; often the donations are misspent, deliberately redirected or only a small proportion reaches the intended recipients.
Policies on Vehicles for Sale by Roadsides were implemented to reduce the practice of multiple “for sale vehicles” parked on major arterial roads and causing safety concerns to motorists and local residents.
A review of the Moorebank Voluntary Acquisition Scheme (MVAS) was again presented to Council and deferred. I suspect that was done to prevent Council taking legal action against an illegal development within the MVAS site. It smacks of favouritism and discrimination, but obviously not the concern of the Councillors that moved and voted for the deferment. I’m sure the issue will resurface in coming weeks.
The report on the NSW Governments Stadia Strategy resulted in a motion that commits Council to spending $120,000 investigating building a Stadium / Entertainment Centre for Liverpool. I pointed out that Stadiums, such as those at Homebush and Council operated Stadiums in Australia, generally operate at substantial losses. Considering Liverpool City Council currently has a rising backlog approaching $250,000,000 I thought it unwise to commit to a Stadium. Even if the land and construction costs were offered by a generous State or Federal Government. The fact is that Council will need to find rate funding for ongoing operating and maintenance costs likely to be several million dollars annually. That concern was simply dismissed as; “Liverpool will always have a backlog that will continue to grow …. ” I’m sure ratepayers and residents currently suffering from pot holed roads, no footpaths, no kerbing and guttering, limited community recreational facilities, inadequate street lighting, poorly maintained parks and sporting fields etc., do care and that that it’s getting worse!
To be clear, I am not against Stadiums or Entertainment Centres, providing they are operated by private enterprises and not heavily subsidised by Council or ratepayers!
Committee reports were noted with minor discussions including the Traffic Committee Report. I raised the matter dealing with Speed Cushions in Memorial Avenue. The speed cushions are necessary to reduce the number and frequency of speeding vehicles; one was recorded at speeds in excess of 110kph. I suggested it may be worth considering that the speed limit be reduced from 50kph to 40kph as was done for Epson Road in Chipping Norton. If implemented, that could result in the average speed decreasing from the current 60kph to round 45kph. I also suggested that the Highway Patrol conduct regular speed checks and abuses of the 6am to 10am no-entry into Memorial Avenue from Hoxton Park Road. Memorial Avenue is used as “rat run” by those attempting to avoid the signalised intersection at Hoxton Park Road and Flowerdale Road, a known problem intersection. Memorial Avenue (between Flowerdale Road and Hoxton Park Road) has had several fatalities and serious injuries as a result of drivers losing control due to speeding.
That is about all, the meeting finished early at 9:15 pm.
Councillor Peter Harle