For tonight’s Council meeting, I have submitted two questions (below). I’ll be attending the meeting, with its relatively short agenda, to hear the answers. You can join the blog from 6:30pm.
Residents in Flemington have received a letter from Minister Martin Foley dated 4/4/2018 stating that:
“I am pleased that the result of the consultation between Moonee Valley City Council and the Department of Health and Human Services is that we are now in general agreement on the built form outcome needed for this renewal.”
193 submissions were made to the panel hearings on Amendment C177, many of which were from residents concerned about the substantial increase in built form and density proposed for the site and the significant loss of open space for existing residents. The Minister’s letter states the Planning Scheme Amendment allows for ‘Approximately 1,050 dwellings to be built (subject to further planning approvals) of which at least 218 will be new public homes.’
- Is MVCC now in general agreement on the built form outcome, and if yes, can MVCC clearly state what this ‘general agreement’ means?
- How will Council seek to advocate for public housing residents’ interests to achieve the best outcome from the planning approvals process given residents expressed concerns, the lack of information provided to residents, and the removal of the Council as the Responsible Authority for the area?
There are about 40 people here tonight. Many of them are here to ask about employment issues via their union (the ASU). I’ll post their questions as soon as I can. Workforce changes are currently affecting customer service staff, and potentially aged care staff (see the confidential item tonight and take a guess as to what that might be about. You’re probably right.)
Apologies – Cr Nation is an apology.
Confirming minutes of Ordinary Meeting of Council held on Tuesday, 27 March 2018
No opposition so minutes are confirmed.
Declarations of Conflict of Interest
Cr Byrne declares a conflict re item 9.4 due to residential property.
Cr Gauci-Maurici presents a banner for Moonee Valley from the Lions Club of Essendon on their 65th anniversary.
Petitions and Joint Letters – Nope
Public Question Time
8 questions tonight
- Miriam Gillis – As Councillors have you held consultation meetings with residents in your wards in relation to the future of Home and Community Care at MVCC?
A = Crs do not hold ward meetings, however there has been extensive community consultation about this matter including a postcard survey which was distributed to all aged care service recipients during last year. We also had listening posts at the seniors festival where community members could leave their feedback about the federal govt’s reforms to the aged care sector. The outcomes have been reported back to Council. Generally customers understand that changes are being driven by another level of government and that MVCC wants the best outcomes for the clients, the community and staff.
- As Councillors are you confident that any decision you make on Home and Community Care tonight, will be an informed decision? The western region councils have worked in partnerships over the past two years to consider service delivery options available to our ageing communities. Councillors have been briefed several times over the past 12 moths about aged care reforms which have been driven by the federal govt, and what this means for MV staff, clients and residents. Council and officers have been working towards a solution that provides continued care for elderly clients, and the best possible outcomes for staff and the broader community.
- Brian Gillis – As Councillors are you aware of the preparation of tender documents for the transfer of business of Home and Community Care before you vote on a decision tonight? A = Council officers have undertaken provisional planning and have briefed councillors several times prior to putting forward a recommendation for council decision. This preparation has included work undertaken with other western region councils.
- Councillors, before you vote on a decision tonight regarding the future of Home and Community Care in MVCC are you aware that Home and Community Care staff will not receive a redundancy payment if they reject a position with a contractor under the transfer of business clause in MVCC EBA? A = Council’s main aim is to ensure ongoing employment of staff, to provide continuity of service and mitigate redundancy. As part of the tender process, we are seeking an external provider that will take on all existing staff and current entitlements and conditions so no staff member is worse off under any new employer.
- Barry Gough – Have Councillors been briefed on the impacts of transfers to an external agency, the staff are transferred to that agency, and contract is not subsequently renewed by fed govt? A = Councillors have been briefed several times. As part of the tender process council is seeking an external provider to take on existing staff and entitlements including redundancy entitlements and other employment conditions so no staff member is worse off under a new employer.
- Billy King (ASU) – Have Crs been briefed on the proposed restructure in the customer service unit? A = Crs are aware of the commencement of the consultation process regarding the proposed change for the customer service unit. Crs have also been advised that the purpose is to align service delivery with best practice in customer service contact centres. This includes having a dedicated team to deliver customer centric projects allowing operational team to focus on servicing customers needs. Crs have been kept informed of the progress, but are not directly involved on the details of the restructure. Cr Marshall seeks clarification: “I’m trying to work out whether the answer is ‘yes’, because we haven’t been briefed.” The officer says an update went to Crs two weeks ago. Cr Marshall: “That is not a briefing.”
- As Councillors, are you aware that the proposed restructure will lead to multiple job losses and have people doing the same work for less pay? A = The proposed customer service unit restructure is to create an agile workforce to allow for the community to choose to interact with us, whether this is over the phone, in person or online, in such a way that we can respond efficiently and effectively. Crs are aware consultation process has commenced and that Council is seeking feedback from staff and the union to inform any decision being made. Crs are not involved directly in the details of the proposed restructure, but acknowledge that to achieve the above outcome, roles and responsibilities will need to be reviewed. (Cr Marshall clarifies that Mr Barry’s comments are not on behalf of Councillors, but on behalf of the organisation. The Mayor says this will be discussed in the item later on. He is corrected that this is regarding customer service and not Aged care.)
- My questions – see above – A = Whilst the Amendment C177 is generally consistent with Council’s submission, it does not specifically address the community infrastructure needs identified in our submission including public transport improvements and a new community hub. A report will go to Council in May/June outlining how the Amendment meets the Council’s position.
- A = The council report will also outline the next steps including the need for the DHHS to prepare a detailed development plan for the site in partnership with council and other key stakeholders.
This is apparently the consultation MVCC undertook last year regarding HACC services:
The Mayor comments that Qs can be put to Crs directly next week at the forum. Cr marshall asks that Council officers not provide answers that purport to be on behalf of Crs – especially when a vote has not been taken.
Reports by Mayor and Councillors
9.1 1-13 Fullarton Road, Airport West (Lot 1 on PS718354L) – Construction of six dwellings
Cr Byrne moves a refusal on the basis of:
- neighbourhood character
- urban design
- internal overlooking
- side and rear setbacks
- overdevelopment of site due to lack of consideration to site and context
Cr Surace seconds.
Cr Byrne says it is a 794sqm in Airport West near an offramp, onramp and roundabout. She says there are four areas of non-compliance including side and rear setbacks. She understands some leeway is acceptable, but that internal and external access are problematic. She says there will be conflict with school children and buses.
Cr Surace says the application seeks more than 60% (?) of site coverage. It is at an intersection and is very dangerous. She refers to the ResCode standards for setbacks and this will impact the sight-lines. She says the only public transport is a bus nearby.
Cr Cusack comments that developments like this are really unacceptable.
9.2 116 Glass Street and 2 Winifred Street, Essendon (Lot 1 on TP393405N and Units 1 and 2 on SP014011) – Construction of 18 dwellings in a Design and Development Overlay Schedule 10
Cr Gauci-Maurici moves with an additional condition to delete dwellings 11 and 12.
She says the altered plans respond to concerns regarding setbacks and traffic and the layout of the basement. She says that there are many different versions of what could be developed on the site, but removing the two dwellings achieves a better outcome.
Cr Lawrence says there is a diversity of housing in the development incorporating some three and four bedroom homes. He says this will bring families to the area which is a good thing. He also says there is sufficient parking. He says there are some concerns, but it meets the local requirements.
Cr Sharpe says that even though there have been changes she can’t support such a large development in the location. There remain no separations between the apartments and residential developments.
Cr Marshall says the Activity Centre boundaries has highlighted this area as a site at which significant development can occur. She says the overall level of compliance is acceptable.
Cr Cusack says he knows there is no room for irony in the reports of officers, but that the comments about the emerging character of the area are perhaps more ironic that realistic. Something about nooses around necks (???). He says Council would struggle to fight it in a VCAT context. He says he expressing a level of reluctance in supporting the development.
Cr Gauci-Maurici agrees that it is not ideal, but it is a better outcome.
FOR: Marshall, Cusack, Lawrence, Gauci-Maurici, Byrne
AGST: Surace, Sipek, Sharpe
9.3 East Keilor Leisure Centre redevelopment – schematic design
Cr Surace says this motion is about supporting a schematic design to be worked on in future consultation with the community. She says the size and nature of the project warrants external consultants.
The price has increased from $37M to $50M.
Cr Surace says there is a significant increase for the new car park layout to provide for 200 spaces rather than 86 spaces. Additional sums have been added to items that were previously excluded. Council will have further opportunity to review the plans and costs.
Under the plan 2017-21, council is committed to redeveloping the EKLC by 2021. She says it is well overdue. She says a communications plan is being developed.
Cr Byrne asks about whether the consultation group is public. The officer is not sure and takes the Q on notice. She says people should be able to be involved.
She says the price will pay for a facility Moonee Valley deserves.
Cr Marshall speaks in support of the motion but has reservations about the cost. When Council first started talking about the project, it was about $20M being spent – then it has jumped to $37M, and now $50M… “where does this end?”
She says Council needs to be mindful of this when going out on consultation and then giving people everything they ask for. She talks about the lack of ability to pay for this across the municipality. She says we need to be clearer about what Council can afford.
Cr Lawrence says he is not comfortable with the huge spend. He says he is wary of extra costs also blowing out to create an enormous hole in the rate-payers’ pockets. He says there are also extra costs on top of the $50M. What is the income forecast for the investment? What are we going to get back? I haven’t seen one figure yet to see what that could be? How will Council repay the $50M? Is hasn’t been detailed to me. How will Council raise new income streams to pay for the $50M plus. He says he may be being hard-hearted, but Council needs serious answers. “We won’t be able to do anything else.”
Cr Gauci-Maurici says she has significant concerns about the costs which have literally doubled in the time she has been on Council. She says Council has responded to all requests. She says it’s not about return for investment, but this is an incredible amount of money, She hasn’t decided whether she will support it or not.
Cr Cusack says he supports the project because it is a step in the process. He says it is not a proposal that is so out of skew with what has been built in other Councils. He says the location in East Keilor … but then doesn’t finish that sentence….
He says the modelling he has seen in the lead up to consideration about budgets that the risk is moderate and spread out over a number of years.
The Mayor says he has heard these kind of alarmist comments coming up. He says the Clocktower used to have squash courts in it. $8M was borrowed and people were concerned. He says MVCC has always paid off its debts. He says prices go up. he says you can’t buy a house in East Keilor for under a million dollars. (Fact check??)
Cr Surace says government subsidies and grants provide opportunities and that ratepayers will be pleased to be contributing to the service. There are further opportunities as the process continues.
I have to comment here that $50M is a lot of money. The state government is spending just three times that amount to build 1800 affordable homes. So $50M (in the state govt’s budget) is 600 homes. And there were 40 people in the gallery tonight worried about Council cutting back on staffing arrangements for customer service and aged care. We do need good quality sport and community facilities, but homes and jobs are possibly higher priorities. Just saying.
FOR: Surace, Sharpe, Marshall, Byrne, Cusack, Sipek
AGST: Gauci-Maurici, Lawrence
Cr Byrne leaves.
9.4 Valley Lake (Area 2A) Local Area Traffic Management Study
Cr Surace says it is a draft plan going out to consultation.
Cr Sharpe seconds.
Cr Marshall notes it is going to consultation and looks forward to hearing the feedback.
All vote for the motion except Cr Sipek who has not spoken on the issue.
Cr Byrne returns.
9.5 Update on Notice of Motion No. 2017/08 – Large Gum Trees in Keilor East and Avondale Heights
Cr Byrne moves. Cr Surace seconds.
The Mayor brought the notice of motion last year. She says the report is interesting and trees are well supported by Council. She says there is often significant damage to footpaths, fences and properties from trees. The report documents damage from hundreds of trees in Keilor. She says the report highlights planting the right trees is really important.
She says some trees are likely to be removed, and replaced with appropriate trees.
Might be worth checking which trees are doing damage where and what the plan is if you live in Keilor. I do like trees …. Cr Byrne later seems to suggest only two trees are being removed. Yes – only two.
Cr Lawrence says the report has completed a careful assessment of trees and the damage some trees might be doing. “it doesn’t remove all the gum trees in East Keilor, but there will be some removed as a consequence of this report.”
Cr Cusack says that he supports the work of the officers, but he says environmental values need to underpin actions Council takes.
9.6 Report on Assemblies of Councillors
Cr Surace moves. Cr Lawrence seconds.
Cr Sharpe mentions that the reports say Crs with COI leave “during” the items, but should say “before” the items. The Mayor says this will be change.
Notices of Motion – nope
Urgent Business – none
Crs vote on whether the meeting should be closed for confidential business.
For: Sipek, Cusack, Lawrence, Sharpe, Surace
Agst: Marshall, Byrne, Gauci-Maurici
Meeting heads into confidential business and the four of us in the gallery head home.
12.1 Aged Care Services at Moonee Valley City Council
Close of Meeting