February 2nd – Not much to report here as this was the quickest meeting of this elected Council lasting only 45 minutes,(did not really have time to even settle in and it was all over). One interesting Notice of Motion was the recognition of the traffic congestion around Liverpool especially Westfield’s and the need to investigate and resolve this problem.
February 25th Meeting. – Well this one was a little bit longer and a lot more controversial.
A great deal of political posturing and grandstanding ensued, something that we have come to expect at any Local State or Federal election time.
There were 4 public speakers on the night and 6 confidential reports
MACEDONIAN FLOOD RELIEF – The first speaker was the Macedonian Ambassador talking about the Macedonian Flood Relief Fund. I don’t really know why he bothered speaking as it was a forgone conclusion that Council was going to donate and they did. A Mayoral Notice of Motion was passed for $5k. Again we can continue to argue why Council is donating our money to these types of International funds, when at a Federal level there are already millions of dollars donated. Call me cynical but is this selective community vote buying for the next Council Elections???
BATHURST STREET RUBBISH – A resident from Bathurst Street spoke about the very urgent need for rubbish removal in a densely inhabited block of flats. She aired her frustrations about continually contacting Council and receiving very little assistance. Congratulations to her for taking the time to come to Council and have the issue listed as a matter of record and relay her concerns directly to the Council – If more residents took the time to do this then Councillors might see where residents priorities lay i.e., Roads, Rubbish and Services (rates).
SHARE CARE CHARITY- A representative from ShareCare spoke about their organisation and the need to provide respite for parents of disabled children – A Notice of Motion was later passed that ShareCare and Liverpool Hospital will be equal recipients of the profits raised by the Mayoral and Councillor Ball to be held Aug 2015.
MACLEOD PARK PRESTONS- A very eloquent resident from Prestons spoke against the DPG02 to sell of parts MaCleod Park at Prestons and she had obviously researched the matter well. She quoted pertinent parts of the Local Government Act back at Council and in closing stated that Council should provide greenspaces for future residents as is stated in their Charter.
MAYORAL MINUTES: As is usually the case on the agenda there are no Mayoral Minutes listed, however, come to the night of the meeting and there is inevitably always a couple. Tonight was no exception, there were 5 Mayoral minutes. What this entails is usually the mayor reading out a prepared speech about an event, an achievement a current issue or condolence, however, if there is an agenda item he wants to have passed then the Mayoral Minutes becomes a Mayoral Notice of Motion. 3 Items that could have been on the agenda:
- John Edmondson Park Lighting Safety Issues – While I agree that this is an important issue, why wasn’t it tabled at briefing session and added as an agenda item?
- Japanese exchange students (Toda) – an additional $50k to be set aside in the upcoming budget to facilitate additional costs and rekindle our close ties with our Sister City Toda – Good decision but hardly an urgent matter and could have been on agenda for discussion.
- Macedonian Flood Relief and how the Macedonian Community is a great contributor to Liverpool Community (pretty sure I heard the same speech for Serbian Flood Relief, Pakistan Flood Relief etc.,) I have no problem with Council making donations to worthwhile causes, but I firmly believe these donations should be at a local level. We have many local charities and organisations that do great work here in our community that could do with more funding. The role of the Federal Governments is to provide donations to other countries on behalf of all Australians to these worthwhile causes not Local Government.
This Mayoral Minute/Mayoral Notice of Motions perplexes me, because when you spring these items on Councillors on the night it does not allow them time to research a NOM and in many cases as one Major Party currently has the majority voting these NOMs get through. Council have briefing sessions usually one week prior to a Council Meeting to discuss matters listed on the agenda and a majority of these matters should be tabled during briefing sessions to allow debate prior to the meetings.
I spoke to a very political savvy person about this and they advised me that this is a clever political strategy to ensure that the Mayor gets the most attention and press coverage under his name – It was my understanding and I could be wrong that the Mayoral Minute was for urgent NOMs and to update Council on pertinent current issues, condolences or council achievements.
I have been told by many people that the Mayor is very well liked and respected in the community due to his high profile and that is great, he appears to be doing a great job bringing Liverpool media attention, but, is he doing it for the community and the residents or is he doing it for his political aspirations?
CEO PERFORMANCE REVIEW – Well it appears the CEO has already been with us for 9 months (my how time flies) and it was review time – it was a glowing review so I don’t know whether that means more dollars (I hope not he already draws a very handsome salary package now). I have actually only heard him contribute at meetings in the past couple of months, however, my concerns are that all the good practices our previous CEO and now terminated Council Staff put in place have slowly faded. We no longer see full page ads in the paper after Council Meetings explaining what transpired at Council and what it meant to the public, so to me it appears the lines of communication are slowly disappearing again.
NOM 01 NORTHUMBERLAND RUBBISH REMOVAL – Well this became a very controversial issue. The NOM was originally raised by Clr Stanley and her concerns that this issue needs to be addressed now and by the end of the discussion became Clr Balloot’s NOM. Regardless of the outcome, all Clr’s agreed that this is an area of concern and has been for some years now and needs to be resolved.
SELLING OF ASSETS: RECLASSIFICATION OF LAND AND REZONING – Honestly I lost track of this motion as there was a great deal of political posturing on this subject. Thankfully Peter spoke against the motion of selling off assets such as pocket parks around Liverpool, however, if they do sell of assets all monies received should go into Property Management Portfolio, I think the majority of the Councillors wanted to put the revenue into infrastructure projects, which is against Councils Charter. I must say I totally agree with Peter on this point. Once you sell of an asset you never get it back and as is the case of selling off Council Parklands this will leave the areas vacant for high density housing and then we will need additional recreational areas to cater for additional residents. I know some of these parks look like they are underutilised but with the onset of high rise residential, villas, duplexes and the like we need somewhere for kids to play, families to picnic and just some actual open space to use as recreational areas. I also agree that if you sell off assets to fund infrastructure projects eventually the money runs out and then does that mean infrastructure stops?
REBRANDING OF LIVERPOOL: – This was listed as a confidential report to continue with the rebranding of Liverpool and accept the tender from Uberbrand Pty Ltd for the new City Brand implementation and rollout over the next 24 months with a further 12 month option. As neither you nor I are privy to what the heck this all means it is hard to comment on, however, I have gone back over some of the previous agendas and I am not 100% sure but as far as I can ascertain it looks like this has already cost in the upward vicinity of $400k and we don’t know what we are getting. By the time this goes out to public exhibition (if it indeed does) goodness knows what we will end up with.
Councillor Stanley challenged spending more money in the current climate where there is a great deal of talk about amalgamating Councils and suggested that we postpone the roll-out until the Fit for the Future and Council amalgamation is determined. Well, this created our best grandstanding of the night with opposite Councillors stating that we should not stop running a Council just because of elections. I think they missed the point as what she was saying was lets hold off spending massive amounts of money on one particular item such as re-branding that does not affect any council functions or residents as it may be wasted if amalgamation of Councils proceeds.
REVITILISATION OF LIVERPOOL: – It has been stated the cost of this project is $17 million dollars and sounds very grand indeed, granite pavers, new fountains and the like, I am still skeptical. We definitely do need to attract more government and private industry to the CBD along with outdoor cafés and restaurants to Liverpool, however, while you still have a plethora of sex shops, methadone clinics, street drug dealing (that attracts a lot of undesirables from other suburbs) you are not concentrating on the problem and spending $17 million dollars “prettying up the city” is not the solution. There is rubbish lying around and stores that have very rundown shop fronts that will not upgrade their facades even though Council offer them $5k to do so. It is one thing to be a progressive Council with very forward thinking ideas and another to deliver realistic achievable outcomes.
CARNES HILL: – The tender for the much awaited Carnes Hill Recreation and Community Precinct has been awarded and work will commence apparently in April 2015. I know I am looking forward to this and I am pretty sure so are all the new residents in Carnes Hill, Middleton Grange and existing residents in surrounding areas, even something for the rural folk. Finally residents west of the CBD will be able to partake in some of the services the new centre is offering i.e., Library, meeting rooms, outdoor skating rink and sports centre. Well done Council.
I note the Mayor has congratulated current Council Staff members and current Councillors, however, the inception and project actually started with the 2008 elected Councillors and many Council staff that are no longer here. While I do applaud the current Council staff for their work, it would have been nice if he had also acknowledged the previous participants and Councillors who did the heavy lifting.
COMMITTEE FOR LIVERPOOL: – And last but not least another new Committee, this one is called (at this stage anyway) a “Committee for Liverpool” and as best as I can ascertain it sounds like for all intents and purpose a new Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, can’t say I understand what or why this is needed or what it is all about, but do we really need another COC, or for that matter do we really need any more committees??
Well that’s it folks, sorry it was so lengthy but there does seem to be a lot happening around Liverpool and remember these are my thoughts and comments only as a concerned resident.