I have sat down on this crisp ANZAC Day to read 216 pages of the MV2040 plan so I can provide feedback on this plan for the next 22 years of Moonee Valley’s future.
As a PhD student, I read a lot. I am a good reader. But I have found it very difficult to read this document.
It is presented beautifully – with glorious photos and graphics, maps and icons, all designed to make the read easier. I think I understand what the document is trying to achieve, but I am ultimately most confused by the substantive plan itself.
It says everything, and nothing. It identifies actions for neighbourhoods with no clear rationale for each action.
It has targets that are utopian, unmeasurable and unachievable – and not always within the capacity of a local government to deliver.
It is largely unobjectionable – how can one object to a vision for healthy, green, beautiful, thriving, connected community?
But is it meaningful? Does it map out an achievable strategy for meeting the targets?
Or is it just another aspirational plan that will achieve nothing tangible – except locking in capital works projects that don’t appear to be connected to the ‘targets’, ‘objectives’ and ‘actions’ in the ‘themes’.
Let me start at the beginning and see if I can say something useful about this massive document that might help others to make submissions and provide feedback to Council.
At its meeting on 24 April, Moonee Valley Council adopted their draft MV2040 plan for the next 22 years of capital works and community planning.
Councillors asked residents to provide feedback on the draft before it is adopted in full. Feedback is due by 18 May.
The draft plan has been developed through different phases of consultation on the visioning paper.
The document has three sections:
- Context: vision, trends, principles
- Themes: Fair, Thriving, Green, Beautiful, Connected each with strategic directions, targets, objectives and actions
- 13 Neighbourhoods: with visions, anchors, initiatives
But the connection between these is not obvious. This diagram doesn’t really help explain how each is linked to the other.
There are various summaries of ‘implementation initiatives’ for the neighbourhoods, but the derivation of these initiatives is vague, other than to say they have been the result of consultation:
I would summarise the document as a four year plan on steroids that promises utopia, but is at risk of delivering very little.
Here are some more specific comments:
- The targets too broad
‘Smart’ targets are specific, measurable and achievable within a time-frame. MV2040 has set ambitious and largely unachievable targets – some of which are not within the control of a local government. As wonderful as they all sound, MVCC will fail to achieve many of these targets.
Targets in the earlier version (Visioning Paper) were more specific and measurable, e.g.:
Given each ‘Theme’ has strategic directions, targets, objectives and actions, maybe the ‘targets’ are actually ‘aims’, and the strategy currently lacks actual targets which would normally be measurable achievements to check the objectives have been met (through the actions). Bureaucracy!
2. The impact of the consultation and feedback is not clear
MVCC says it undertook two phases of consultation (I participated in the second phase). In the second phase which invited comments on the Visioning Paper, only 86 people went online and answered four questions about their neighbourhoods. If there are 13 neighbourhoods, that’s potentially only 6 people commenting on each neighbourhood.
MVCC says it received 2179 ideas – but there is no list of these and the frequency of the most popular or least popular ideas – or the extent to which the ideas in the draft plan were supported.
MVCC says it received 53 written submission, but there is no summary of these submissions.
There is a brief ‘Community Engagement Summary Report‘ and this contains three pages of broad ideas, but without any indications of the numbers supporting these ideas and there is no indication which of the ideas have been included and the reasons for their inclusion or rejection. None of the ideas I mentioned are included.
3. There is no clear connection between the ‘objectives’ and ‘actions’ and the neighbourhood initiatives
There are a number of graphics indicating that there is meant to be a connection between the themes and the neighbourhood initiatives, but there is no clear link made between the objectives and actions under the themes and the neighbourhood projects.
As a result, it is not clear which objectives the neighbourhood projects seek to achieve, and it’s not clear how the actions in the themes will be achieved through the neighbourhood initiatives.
4. There is no clear rationale for the selected neighbourhood initiatives
There are 158 implementation initiatives across the 13 neighbourhoods, but apart from saying they were developed through consultation, there is no transparency or rationale as to why these initiatives have been chosen.
As mentioned above, while they are linked to the themes, the initiatives are not linked to the objectives or actions or targets or strategic directions!
5. As a capital works plan, the document falls short on detail
The plan seems to set out an extensive capital works strategy for the next 22 years. Yet it is light on detail with estimated costs and timelines presented in very general terms – a number of $$$ signs to indicate cost, and a general timeframe.
In 2008 or 2009, MVCC prepared a ten year capital works plan – I still have a copy somewhere in my study. It was a detailed plan for the next decade. I have no idea whether the plan has been used, updated, ticked off or discarded. But my memory is that it provided something more substantial than the plan below which really says very little.
Again, MV2040 is unobjectionable in its content – they are all great ideas – but as a plan for implementation over 22 years, I’m really not sure there is sufficient detail to know what will be implemented when and at what cost.
6. It is not clear how the document will be incorporated into the planning scheme
There have been several comments about MV2040 underpinning a re-write of the municipal strategic statement (MSS) and being embedded in the planning scheme. It’s not clear at this stage how that will all work.
7. It should be reviewed more regularly then ‘every eight years’
Reviewing the document every eight years would mean the document would go untouched by two councils of four year terms and that two four year plans would go by without reviewing MV2040. At the pace of population, technological and climate change, not reviewing the document for eight years may result in it being radically disconnected from changes in the community.
8. The Arts!
Ah the Arts! The subject of great angst for me and many others in Moonee Valley who watch millions being spent on the very important sporting facilities and very little being spent on creating new arts facilities.
There are some objectives and actions related to the arts. However, the word ‘arts’ is not used once in the list of 158 implementation initiatives (there is a mention of the Incinerator Centre).
The projects are all, as has always been the case in Moonee Valley, weighted towards sport as the source of community activity and health and wellbeing.
9.Community Facilities Policy and Implementation Plan?
At the March 13 meeting, the Council endorsed a draft and far reaching plan that supercedes many other Council plans for community facilities.
We are now in phase three and I can’t see any reference to consultation on the reference documents.
I’m still not sure what consultation is planned for the Community Facilities Plan – an incredibly important document. There is nothing online, and the only way of finding the draft document is via the meeting agenda. The document is here.
I am completely lost on how the community is meant to be providing feedback on the Community Facilities Policy and Implementation Plan.
To finish on a more positive note. The document provides an excellent summary of where MV is in 2018 – and what the projections are for the next 22 years. It is a useful summary of goals across the five key themes. But my view is that its usefulness as a capital works plan for the next 22 years is compromised to the point where this part of the document should not be supported.
IMHO, I suggest that MVCC:
- rewords the ‘targets’ as aspirational goals and considers including measurable and achievable targets that are connected to the actions
- sets aside the neighbourhood part of MV2040 – or takes out the implementation initiatives until these are
- connected to objectives and actions
- supported by more extensive consultation locally
- properly mapped out in a comprehensive capital works plan.
Oh and … the Flemington Community Hub! This requires extensive community consultation regarding its location and character.
That the project has been included in an Advocacy Strategy without any community consultation beggars belief … but that’s the subject of a whole other post.