Present: Mayor Surace, Cr Marshall, Cr Nation, Cr Sharpe, Cr Sipek, Cr Lawrence, Cr Gauci-Maurici, Cr Byrne, Cr Cusack
Declarations of Conflict of Interest:
Cr Nation – item re grants – indirect conflict – sits on the board of a community organisation requesting a grant
Cr Sharpe – application for a grant
CEO, Mr Lancaster – Buckley St, residential property
Petitions and Joint Letters
Cr Byrne presented a petition from residents
Public Question Time
- From Angelo B: How far is Council prepared to take the fight re Buckley St?
Answer: LXRA has announced their preferred option and any change to this would require legal intervention. Council is not aware of VicRoads’ responses to the traffic changes Council has identified.
- From Mr —- : What legal action has been planned re Buckley St?
Council will receive report at Council meeting in June. No funding has yet been allocated for legal action.
Reports from Councillors
Each Councillor spoke about their activities during the month including ANZAC Day, Reconciliation Week, Strathmore school zoning, parking issues in Moonee Ponds, MAV Conference, Buckley St Level Crossing Rally. Some small amendments to reports – Cr Cusack didn’t get to the Flemington Association, and Cr Marshall attended the Essendon Hockey Club ANZAC Day ceremony.
The Mayor is going on planned leave this later this week (29 May – 19 June). She spoke about the rally at the weekend and thanked Council staff for their assistance.
8 Patrick Court, Airport West – Construction of four dwellings
Cr Nation moved that the recommendation to approve be supported. He understands that residents might not be too happy, but Council would have little chance of winning the VCAT proceedings that are already on foot. “It is very hard to do anything but approve the recommendation as per the report.”
Cr Marshall agreed with Cr Nation. “It can be difficult for residents to accept this level of change.” “On balance this is one that is incredibly highly compliant.”
Cr Byrne spoke against the officer’s recommendation. “The developer has been really clever with this one.” Cr Byrne was not happy with the single car garage provisions and expected cars would be parked on the street. “It’s not right.” “The people of Airport West seem to keep being trashed with these dodgy applications.”
Cr Sipek agreed the application was compliant. “It complies with ResCode – which is not law; it is a guideline.” Cr Sipek reiterated his comments about blocks being divided up for single dwellings. He will not support the application.
Cr Nation said that ResCode forms part of the planning scheme – “They are the guidelines that we put in as part of our planning scheme.” “We do have to follow the rules that we put in place.”
For: Lawrence, Gauci-Maurici, Cusack, Marshall, Nation, Sharpe
Agst: Surace, Sipek, Byrne
Update on the Minister for Planning’s Decision on the Flemington Hill and Epsom Road Advisory Committee Report
Cr Marshall moved the motion in support of the officer’s recommendation. She thanked the officers for the work that Council did to present Council’s submission to the Advisory Committee. “We have been, you could say, overall successful.”
Heights have been lowered to 15 on the Epsom Rd site and 10 on the northern site. The ball is now in the developer’s court, Cr Marshall said.
“Any development that occurs will really need to think about what happens [at the round-a-bout].”
Cr Marshall said she was disappointed the municipal boundary issue had not been resolved to include the Flemington Hill development in Moonee Valley. She said the City of Melbourne “were split” about what they thought should happen.
Cr Marshall said MVCC needs to keep pushing for a boundary change. “They will be using the Moonee Valley resources” and calling whomever is the Councillor at the time. “Anyone who will live on these sites, they are people who should be rightly sitting within the City of Moonee Valley.”
Cr Cusack seconded the motion. “It’s ludicrous to draw an artificial boundary there.”
Cr Cusak also commended the community for campaigning – he mentioned the posters on people’s homes that residents paid for themselves.
Cr Nation spoke about investment in community infrastructure and open space – the developer’s contribution will not go into the infrastructure that the future residents will use. He also argued the 5% affordable housing should have been 10%.
Cr Sipek spoke about the boundary changes of the past when the Racecourse and Showgrounds were brought within City of Melbourne: “We lost millions and millions of dollars.” He argued MVCC should take back the Racecourse and Showgrounds.
North Essendon Local Area Traffic Management Study
Cr Gauci-Maurici moved the officer’s recommendation and spoke of the changes that will be made to improve safety for road crossing, including near the library.
“Did you know you weren’t allowed to do a U-Turn on Keilor Rd?” Laughter all round.
Cr Lawrence spoke in support of the traffic plan. 308 people responded to the Council’s survey – the majority of which commented on traffic volumes.
Cr Sharpe said she had a number of concerns: “there’s much contention around lack of parking”. She said the removal of no stopping zones would make it difficult for two cars to pass – “it would turn into a one lane road”. She said people would complain once they became alerted to the changes. “I can just imagine how this is all going to end… People will be in uproar.”
She spoke of the impact the reduced speed limits would have on the trams – adding eight minutes to their trip. “It is just not going to solve the problem. These proposals here I have serious concerns about them.”
Mayor Surace mentioned that it was a draft plan to which residents could provide feedback
For: Surace, Marshall, Nation, Sipek, Lawrence, Gauci-Maurici, Byrne, Cusack
Open Space Master Plans
Cr Sharpe moved the motion and spoke about the processes of community consultation and involvement. The draft Mastre Plans are now going out for further review.
Cr Sipek: “When we had these consultations, a lot of people showed up”.
Cr Lawrence also talked about forefathers.
Cr Nation said he had reservations about the process. He was concerned about Council looking at everyone’s suggestions and incorporating them all. We need to “rein in the potential spend on a particular park to something that is actually sustainable for this municipality”. He said it looked like a wish list where every request was ticked.
“Right down to Buckley Park having a water feature, and nesting boxes and bees.” “I need to put on record” the importance of the bees. Not so much the water feature.
Cr Gauci-Maurici said it was a great example of what genuine consultation looks like. “Yes, it’s going to go back for further consultation” and expense can be further considered. “That’s what genuine consultation looks like, Cr Nation. Sorry!”
Cr Sipek asked a question about funding.
Cr Marshall said she noted Cr Nation’s concerns. “We can’t afford to do everything we would like to do.” “I’d prefer to take a pragmatic approach.” She was concerned that plans would raise expectations that could not be fulfilled – unless MVCC “won the local government lottery”.
Cr Cusack said he would be supporting the motion. “I’d love to see our pocket-handkerchief parks get up” and get some improvements as well.
Cr Byrne spoke in favour of the motion and thanked the staff for working on weekend, and for listening to all of residents’ ideas.
Cr Sharpe mentioned that priorities would be funded first and the major things would be done first.
Response to NoM 2016/27 – New Residential Zones
Cr Marshall moved the officer’s recommendation. Cr Nation seconded.
Cr Marshall spoke about the urgency of getting the Heritage work – as Council was advised Heritage work was not sufficiently advanced to use it as a basis for the proposed zones that MVCC had requested.
“It’s not easy to balance the interests of the community” and put together “something we can strategically justify”.
Cr Cusack spoke about the need to continue to agitate on planning and housing.
Biannual Grants 2016/17 Round 2 Recommendations
Cr Nation and Cr Sharpe left the meeting with conflicts of interest.
Cr Lawrence moved the officer’s recommendation. Cr Sipek rose to second the motion, but asked if the motion could be split into parts.
Advice was that where there were separate parts the motion could be split.
Cr Marshall sought a clarification regarding Cr Lawrence’s motion. Mayor Surace interrupts – and there is clarity as a new motion appears on the screen – which Cr Lawrence moves.
The new motion has three separate items which are amendments to the officer’s recommendation: fund the Farnham St Neighbourhood Learning Centre, increase the funding for the Italian Community of Keilor, and not fund the North West Aquatic Swimming Club. Cr Sipek seconded.
Cr Cusack moved an amendment – to fund the United Football application (an application to send young footballers from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds to Gold Coast for leadership training), seconded by Cr Marshall.
Cr Cusack then spoke to this amendment arguing the role of Council grants was to support community to take risks. Cr Marshall supported Cr Cusack.
Cr Sipek spoke about Collingwood – and his own experiences as a migrant child.
Cr Byrne spoke against the amendment. “We are talking about $15,000 of ratepayers’ money to send a handful of boys, it wasn’t targeting girls, to the Gold Coast for a weekend trip.” “I can’t agree to spending that amount of money.”
Cr Cusack responded that it was not just a trip to the Gold Coast. “It’s a package of four components that’s about building the skills” of people. “A trip to the Gold Coast is one part of it.” “There is the training”; “there is the stuff that they will do at schools”. “The bickies are in the barrel.”
For: Cusack, Sipek, Marshall
Agst: Lawrence, Surace, Gauci-Maurici, Byrne
Cr Lawrence then spoke to the original motion – items 1-3. Carried unanimously.
Cr Lawrence then rose to speak to item 4: increasing funding to ICKA – to repair a leaking roof.
Cr Sipek spoke about his Mothers’ Day dinner at the ICKA – “It was like a bath-tub”.
Cr Gauci-Maurici explained that the panel recommended partial funding; this motion recommends full funding.
Cr Marshall said it was miserly to only provide half – and ask the pensioners to pay the rest themselves.
Cr Byrne – said it probably should have been done in the committee. “Different groups have different abilities to raise money – and this is a safety issue.”
Mayor Surace said the ICKA provides something that gives people social opportunities.
Item 4 – Carried unanimously.
Item 5 – Farnham Street Neighbourhood Learning Centre. Cr Lawrence spoke about the application for wi-fi – “we are taking a bit of a risk to our own accountability”; “they know how to apply for grants”; “the grants committee felt it wasn’t suitable”; we only have advice from someone who works at the centre.
Cr Marshall rose to seek clarification about the advice that Cr Lawrence spoke about.
An officer spoke about the two quotes: one of which was external and one was provided by an internal employee.
Cr Cusack spoke in favour of Item 5: “Farnham St is being treated as though it is a tin-pot organisation”. “It pares everything back to the bone.” “I’m very shocked.”
(I’m not actually sure whether Cr Lawrence was speaking for or against the motion and I’m not sure who seconded it. And the author should declare that I was the Chair of FSNLC from 2013-2016).
Cr Marshall: “The work that is done at Farnham St is so incredibly valuable.” “This is exactly the type of work we should be doing.”
Cr Gauci-Maurici spoke about the integrity of the process. We have to know that organisations we give money to are credible. How do we support community groups to apply for the best possible grant?
The Mayor asked what other funding is provided to FSNLC. An officer spoke about the $50,000 grant from Council FSNLC gets each year.
Cr Lawrence closed the debate by speaking against the motion – although the motion was “Fund the Farnham St.”
For: All except Lawrence. (Cr Lawrence voted against the motion he moved – I am very confused. Who seconded that motion?)
Item 6 – Cr Lawrence moved motion not to fund NWA Swimming Club. An officer clarified that the equipment would not be shared amongst clubs.
Cr Cusack spoke about the conditions that are attached to funding – that they can expire. Cr Cusack was concerned about the capacity for the equipment to be shared.
Cr Marshall rose to support the motion not to fund NWASC. She said Council could do more work on how swimming pool and lane allocations work across clubs – and to have equipment shared across clubs.
Cr Gauci-Maurici said lots of applications were worthy.
Item 6 – carried unanimously. And the North West Aquatic Swimming Club (of which Cr Nation has been the Secretary for a number of years) will not receive the funding that was recommended.
Response to NoM 2017/03 – Pavilion Design
Cr Marshall moved the officer’s recommendation. She said her notice of motion was perhaps a bit wishful, but is still hopeful Council can do more work on making buildings more available for multi-use. “How do we support a sport like netball?”
Cr Sipek agreed with Cr Marshall, but did some explaining about the increase in costs – “you’ve got to cater for women’s change rooms”; things being built “on the side of a cliff”; “you’ve got aquifers running through”; and the sporting clubs “have put different demands” and these are all at a cost.
Cr Sipek is asking the CEO if he remembers the floor size of the basic model – but the CEO can’t remember it off hand. “If Council were allowed to build their own pavilions… back in the old days when Councils used to build their own buildings….” says Cr Sipek. The CEO looks (possibly) alarmed.
Cr Cusack supports the motion, but comments on the lack of sustainable design. “Why not an opportunity for other ways of funding it – partnerships with businesses and things like that.”
Cr Byrne spoke about the functions that can be held in the clubs. “The problem we have in the netball community is that we share one pavilion with the bowls clubs” and don’t have the ability to raise funds. She spoke about the need for equality in the use of pavilions for women dominated sports.
Financial Performance Report March 2017
Strathaird Reserve, 1-15 Strathaird Street, Strathmore – Proposed Response to VicRoads Regarding Sale of Land
Report on Assemblies of Council
Carried unanimously en bloc.
Proposed Sale of Land – 34 Wilson Street Moonee Ponds
Cr Nation spoke to the motion but with an additional point about the use of funds from the sale being put back into the Southern end of the municipality.
Cr Sipek seconded – “I have complete faith in our officers and CEO” that the money cn be put to good use.
Cr Sharpe rose to ask whether an amendment could be added: conditional on a Heritage Overlay being put on the site. Cr Byrne seconded the amendment. There is an application with the Minister. Cr Sharpe says Council should wait for the overlay before selling the site.
Cr Marshall and Cr Cusack spoke in favour of the amendment.
Mayor Surace expressed concerns. “We miss out the opportunity of putting it on the market.”
Cr Nation spoke in favour of the amendment – it may mean less money for Council, but the retention of the street-scape is important.
Cr Marshall rose to speak about the amended motion. Would prefer Council to wait to determine the infrastructure priorities in Moonee Ponds given the amount of growth happening. “It’s a very serious matter to sell ratepayers’ assets.”
Cr Cusack spoke against the motion: “How is it planned? How is it used? What will it achieve?”
Cr Nation closed the discussion pointing out the it is not currently DDA compliant.
Cr Marshall asked whether it might be possible for the Historical Society to use the building. And officer thought it might not be the best place for storage, but it might be considered as a meeting place.
Cr Nation believes now is the best time to realise the asset.
For: Sipek, Sharpe, Nation, Byrne, Lawrence, Surace, Gauci-Maurici
Against: Cusack, Marshall
Response to Notice of Motion 2016/09 – Councillor Expenses
Cr Marshall moved the officer’s recommendation – referred to the motion later in the agenda. “This is not our money.” We need to be best practice when it comes to transparency.
Cr Nation spoke about community expectations: “We need to be accountable for every dollar.” “We are here to serve the community. We need to do things better. We cannot expect the community to take a hit and then stand around and claim back every cent from Council.” “We spend far too much on communication – $5000 a quarter.”
“If the entire community were aware of some of the money we were spending, I’m pretty sure they would be outraged.”
“How can we ensure that we make sure our reimbursements are within what the community would expect.” “What exactly should we be reimbursed for?”
Cr Cusack rose to support the motion. He also explained the large figure in his own expenses – that was an accumulation of several years of computer expenses. He also queried a $900 training cost.
An officer said that each record would be verified with Councillors. (Not sure what that means for Cr Cusack’s $900 training course).
Cr Byrne said she was pleased expenses had been going down. “We need to be accountable.”
Cr Sipek rose and said some of the conferences were requirements – such as MAV, VLGA, ALGA. “At least one of us should attend.”
Cr Lawrence supported the motion: “Transparency is an important thing.” “I don’t make any claim against Council for communication – I’m not beating my chest on this.” “I have it covered under my own business.” “Why we are paying so much for telecommunications in this Council…” “With all these phones Council has, surely we can do a better deal.”
Cr Surace: “There is nothing that has not been disclosed.” Expenses are in the annual report.
Cr Marshall: “The pool of Councillor expenses are in the annual report, but not individual expenses.” “I hope every time someone goes on a conference… they think … am I comfortable” with everyone seeing this. “I don’t believe the ratepayers should be paying for Councillors to network.”
Notices of Motion
Crown Street Stables – SocialEnterprise Review
Cr Cusack; Cr Marshall.
Cr Cusack said he is concerned that he has not seen evidence that people with disabilities are being trained in the social enterprise.
Cr Marshall is also concerned that the vision that Council had for Crown St has not yet been achieved. “We knew it shouldn’t be a function centre.” “Certainly when I’ve been down at Crown St I have an uneasiness about where it is going.” “I don’t want to be critical; it was a new thing for Council.”
Cr Sipek informed the gallery that there is milk available.
Cr Cusack has a few more points to add.
Meeting has been going for 3.5 hours. It’s quite late. The screen is blank. Gallery being told to stretch their legs. And there is milk.
Changes to My Aged Care – Community Forum
Cr Bryne – a new Federal program is being implemented. The motion is about Council informing residents and bringing a report on the challenges to Council.
The Mayor and CEO explain that a Notice of Motion cannot ask for expenditure.
Word-smithing at 10pm. Team effort – everyone contributing.
Mayor Surace adjourns the meeting for five minutes so the motion can be fixed.
I feel like I have been here before.
There are still a dozen people watching the meeting. Drinking milk.
We’ve adjourned so they can fix the motion, but I fear an essay is being written.
We’re on. Motion fixed. Carried unanimously.
North Essendon Shopping Precinct Parking
Cr Sharpe starts talking… Cr Nation interrupts “If you want me to chair, I’ll chair. I can chair from here if you want.”
Motion read. Spoken to: getting the balance between all day parking, and 2 hour.
Cr Sipek wants to move straight to the vote. Now we’re moving.
Buckley Street Level Crossing Advocacy
Cr Marshall rises to say that she will not be participating in the debate.
Cr Lawrence makes a comment. Cr Marshall says that as he lives in the area he may like to reconsider his position. There is a heated exchange between Cr Lawrence and Cr Marshall as Cr Lawrence says he lives no where near it.
Cr Marshall continues: “I don’t have a conflict. That’s clear. I have at all times agreed with the Council position. My voting record shows this. Why I am not participating is because people on social media have brought my children into it.”
Gallery protests. Mayor Surace asks Cr Marshall to leave. Then says Cr Gauci-Maurici must move her motion, and then Cr Marshall can speak. Cr Marshall moves a dissent motion.
Much muttering in the gallery. Silence as advice sought.
The Mayor says she needs to put to the vote whether the dissent order is accepted.
Cr Marshall says there is no need for a seconder, dissent issue is just debated.
Cr Sharpe asks for an explanation: officer says it is about a dissent from the Chairperson’s ruling. The Mayor has ruled Cr Marshall can’t speak ahead of the motion.
Cr Marshall wants to debate the dissent motion. The Mayor doesn’t want to let Cr Marshall debate the dissent motion on the advice of the officer.
Cr Sipek suggests standing orders are suspended to allow Cr Marshall to speak. That is accepted. (Phew.)
Cr Marshall now speaks and says that comments on social media have targeted Cr Marshall and her children to the point where she has considered going to the police. Cr Marshall leaves the meeting while the substantive motion is debated.
Cr Gauci-Maurici moves her motion and speaks to it. Her motion is looking at the impacts of the LXRA and Council plans for the crossing removal at Buckley St. See below:
Cr Lawrence talks about engineering advice and “real costings”. “We need the truth.” “This hasn’t been consultation, this has been manipulation.” “The rally on Sunday told us that the community is passionate about this. “We don’t want it.” “We want rail under.”
“You will see what can be done in 37 days. 37 days is all it took .”
“That’s the Eastern suburbs… We are being treated like second class citizens.” “Cheap money for a cheap option.” “We need to have proper consultation.””Why are we being treated like this?”
“Why are they trying to bulldoze this through for the sake of an election… Don’t do it at all.”
Cr Sharpe: “We’ve got the masses behind us effectively now. We need to act quickly.” Cr Sharpe says Kastoria bus line will be affected and there have been no avenues given to them. “It’s a crazy proposal.” She says the locals know how traffic moves in the area. “I look forward to this advocacy plan to see what we can do to get the best outcome for our community.”
Cr Nation: “It is a shame we need this motion – it should not fall upon” a council to do. “We, as a Council, have to do the research and have to provide” information to the State government. Cr Nation says the consultation was brief with a “green circle around the picture they wanted to proceed with”. “From one slide they determined that our proposal was going to cost $1billion.” “Hopefully we can back up our argument with even more facts.” “We will start to engage the experts that we can to give weight” to the argument that rail under is best.
Cr Cusack rises – and there are groans in front of me. Cr Cusack says he will support the motion. “If you have an alternative view, you should be prepared to” provide the evidence and argue from fact. “The words that are on this motion are very much on the play-card of Cr Marshall.” “She has never once resiled from any vote in this council and she has given the best way forward.” If “you think you can win with placards, you’re nuts.”
Lots of groaning from people sitting in front of me.
Cr Sipek: “They are not going to put rail under road.” Cr Sipek would prefer to get VicRoads to re-sequence the lights until all three crossings can be done.
“I think the time for advocacy has passed.” “There are only two people who can change this – The Minister… and the Premier, and Cabinet… this should be debated in Parliament.” “We need the support of our MPs.”
Mayor Surace: “This has been put to the Minister and the LXRA.” Nothing. “I’ve had face to face meetings with the Member for Essendon.”
Cr Gauci-Maurici clarifies Council’s position. “For me this is something that is absolutely critical that we have – the facts, the evidence, the impacts…” on our community.
Carried unanimously. Clapping.
I tell the people as they are leaving that they were really rude. I am told that the Councillors “don’t deserve our respect”. I tell the audience the Councillors were trying to help them. They leave. I type.
Cr Marshall returns.
Councillor Expenses Implementation – External Investigation
Cr Marshall reads her motion about an investigation into why the Councillor expenses were not made available last year. The motion is quite detailed.
“It is the sort of thing that can stain the integrity of the organisation.”
Cr Marshall says that there is email correspondence to show that, after the motion was passed, everything was ready to go. Then there was an intervening event and legal advice was sought.
“On the 9th of June everything was ready to go” and then something intervened.
“It might be innocent, but we just need to know why… a contentious Council resolution was not implemented prior to the election.” “Until everything is resolved, we have a black cloud hanging over us.”
Cr Cusack spoke in favour. Cr Nation says that “if a person has used undue influence” to prevent the implementation of the reports, that would be serious misconduct. “Hopefully it is solely incompetence.”
Cr Lawrence says that as a new Councillor, he will be abstaining. Cr Byrne says that she will also be abstaining. As does Cr Gauci-Maurici
Cr Marshall clarifies that abstentions count as a ‘no’.
Cr Marshall asks whether new Councillors will be abstaining voting on any issue that took place prior to this Council.
Cr Sipek says there is nothing to hide here – it’s a “forensic audit”. He says he understands why new Councillors might be abstaining.
Cr Sharpe interjects that Cr Sipek is “bloody bullying” because he is telling other Councillors what to do. Cr Sipek sits.
Abstained: Lawrence, Gauci-Maurici, Byrne
Carried as all others in favour.
Alf Pearce Dog Park
Cr Sharpe talks about more grassed areas.
Cr Marshall mentions cost implications.
Cr Byrne says she wishes they had chosen the option with more grass. “I assumed there would be grass at the dog park.” “Put a patch of grass in somewhere.”
Cr Cusack: “This is a dog park within a grassed area.” There is discussion on the floor about the plans. “I don’t know that we can be that precious about this.”
Cr Sharpe says there are some grassed areas in the design. It wasn’t something that would change things greatly. “It was quite minor.” She says a large number of people would just like some more grass. The people who have raised it are there every day and they feel they haven’t been listened to.
Cr Marshall seeks clarification on whether the changes would need to go out to consultation. The issue was maintenance and access for a mower to get into the fenced in area, says an officer.
Cr Sharpe says there is grass inside the fence. The officer says there wasn’t meant to be grass inside.
Standing Orders are suspended while the plans are found to check whether there is currently grass inside the fenced area.
It is 11:21. We have been here for five hours. (Let there be grass!!)
We’re back – the motion is for ‘a grassed area’ within the proposed dog park.
436-442 Mt Alexander Road, Ascot Vale – Construction of a five storey
Close of Meeting