Council Meeting 11 September

I hope readers don’t mind me giving a plug again to the Flemington Theatre Company’s Pick My Project – to purchase equipment to share amongst local groups for events and performances.  You can vote here – just move the location to Flemington or Ascot vale.

Cast pic w Mayor

Image: Rose Iser

Given the FTC’s upcoming performance, the Blog might be a bit briefer for the next few weeks. Nevertheless…

… here’s the summary of this week’s MVCC meeting.

Open – the meeting is open

Apologies – Cr Cusack. Cr Surace is on approved leave of absence.

Confirmation of Minutes – Unanimous

Conflict of Interest – Cr Nation – 10.11 due to conflicting duty

Presentations – Nope

Public Questions:

  1. Trevor Brooks – why include T366 on the Significant Tree register given some structural damage from roots. A: The tree was investigated and it was deemed the tree was not causing damage and is structurally sound. There is no hard evidence of significance, except that the tree looks to be over 100 years old. There is a process for submitters to give evidence at a hearing.
  2. Why does the report say there is no damage when documentary evidence was presented showing damage? Similar answer to above.
  3. Steven Halls: Our consultant arborist re T229 gave evidence therefore why should the carport prevent nomination of the significant tree? A: the car port was not the reason for not including the tree. The arborist said the tree had outgrown its context.
  4. As the tree pre-dates the flats at 60 Farnham St, shouldn’t neighbours work around trees? A: without protection, any tree disputes are dealt with under common law (civil issue). The Disputes Settlement Centre has more info.
  5. Cheryl Tinney: Re trees in Ascot Vale Public Housing Estate, DHHS have published images of the redevelopment which looks to impact many trees on the Dunlop Ave estate. What will MVCC do? A: Council is aware of the plans that have been released for community consultation, and will advocate for retention of established canopy.


10.1 2017/18 Annual Financial Report

The Council’s Annual Financial report has been through its Audit Committee. The key points worth noting appear to be that the overall cashflow has decreased $15m and expenditure on capital works projects is up to $30m from $19m in 2017.

Cr Lawrence moves the officers’ recommendation. Cr Sharpe seconds.

Cr Lawrence says the surplus of $13m is an excellent result. The capital grants were $3.5m down on the budget. Cr Sharpe concurs with Cr Lawrence. No one else speaks. Carried unanimously.

10.2 Planning Policy Framework for the Moonee Valley Planning Scheme

This was deferred from 28 August and is a rewrite of the Local planning Policy with all sorts of concerning elements (IMHO).

The document is a mess of tracked changes, highlighted notes and capitalised instructions. It is very difficult to know what the new planning policy is.

Concerns about new housing and heritage policies stand from previous meetings. If you are concerned, please have a look at the document. I’ve included a few samples of the document officers recommend Councillors approve.

Cr Marshall moves the officers’ recommendation. Cr Nation seconds. Cr Marshall says she wouldn’t blame people for being confused. she says the Victorian Planning System has been restructured at the state level with tiers of policy. The MSS came to Council and was rewritten to incorporate MV2040. This document tries to translate this into local planning policy, without duplication of state policy.

“It’s not really that clear how this will proceed.” But people can make submissions when it comes out on exhibition.

Cr Nation doesn’t speak. No one else speaks. Carried unanimously.

10.3 2017/18 Performance Statement and Governance and Management Checklist

This is a mandatory statement looking at Council’s performance since 2015. I haven’t read it all, but here are some interesting parts.

Council’s VCAT decisions have been upheld 41.5% in 2018 – down from 54% in 2015.

Council’s workforce turnover (resignations and terminations compared to average staff) was 12.9% in 2018 – up from 6.9% in 2015.

Council’s loans and borrowings, compared to rates will be 39.6% in 2022 – up from 0% in 2016-2019.

Cr Nations moves the officers’ recommendation. Cr Byrne seconds. Cr Nation says this is a mandatory report. If there is a variation of ten percent there needs to be commentary. There are reasons listed in the report. “It’s a good way to keep us accountable as a council.”

Cr Byrne says “Cr Nation was pretty comprehensive”.  Cr Lawrence mentions MVCC has 10K businesses in the municipality. No one else speaks. Carried unanimously.

10.4 2018-19 Capital Works Program Update

Officers seek Councillor approval of the $58M capital works program for the year ahead.

Cr Lawrence moves the officers’ recommendation. Cr Nation seconds. Cr Lawrence says the report outlines variations. “There are swings and roundabouts in the capitals works program” (was that a pun?). Cr Nation doesn’t speak. Cr Byrne says the cricket nets at AJ Reserve have been put off for 12 months because of funding for Maribyrnong Park (I think?). “They are coming”. Carried unanimously.

Kindergarten in Moonee Ponds

There is no Council kindergarten in Moonee Ponds, so the 88 kindergarten aged children attend a mix of non-Council kindergartens and Council kindergartens outside Moonee Ponds.

Officers are not recommending a Council kindergarten in Moonee Ponds is needed, it appears, because demand for kindergartens is met through other services. THIS IS BECAUSE PARENTS USE WHATEVER THEY CAN FIND FOR THEIR CHILDREN BECAUSE CHILDREN NEED KINDERGARTEN. IT DOESN’T MEAN A COUNCIL KINDERGARTEN IN MOONEE PONDS WOULD NOT BENEFIT CHILDREN.

This report makes me angry (could you tell?).

Cr Marshall moves that the matter is deferred. Cr Gauci Maurici seconds.

Cr Marshall says the report originated out of a notice of motion on the back of concerns raised. “I keep having the same conversations with residents who miss out on the kindergarten of choice.”

“We don’t hesitate to spend large amounts of money on capital works for sporting facilities.” She says people in Moonee Ponds and Ascot Vale are being told they have a kinder spot in Strathmore or East Keilor which is “not at all practical for families.”

Carried unanimously.

10.6 Joint Council Statement against changes to the Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) program for people seeking asylum

142 people seeking asylum are living in Moonee Valley – and increase of 70 people since 2014. 73 live in Avondale Heights and nearly 60 percent are aged under 24 years (statistics from MVCC, Agenda for Ordinary Meeting).

This seems like a good move from MVCC – to support a Joint Council Statement against harsh changes being made. Thank you MVCC.

Cr Nation moves the officers’ recommendation. Cr Marshall seconds. He says the changes impact thousands of asylum seekers who will not meet the new stricter federal eligibility for support. Cr Marshall says she likes the partnership model in the report “although we shouldn’t be having to do it”. Carried unanimously.

10.7 Moonee Valley City Council Highball Stadium Development

This seeks to bring forward the funding for  Highball Stadium to save $2.2m “on the proviso Council successfully receives external funding for the Flemignton Community Hub and also funding through Community Sports Infrastructure Loan Scheme.”

While the note above conditions the early funding on Flemington Community Hub, the resolution itself has other conditions: … “subject to receipt of a low interest loan of $10 million for a sports project from the Victorian Government and $10 million in funding for other Major projects”.

So I’m not sure… and not sure what this means for the statements put to Council earlier in the evening.

Cr Byrne moves the officers’ recommendation. Cr Marshall seconds. Cr Byrne says this is really exciting. She said is was “embarrassing” to have a plan for 2025, but now it will be brought forward, with conditions. “It puts us in a really good position to advocate ahead of the state election.”

Cr Marshall wondered “why are we discussing a hypothetical: but it needs to be brought forward because of loan conditions. “I’m mindful about the debate we had at the last council meeting … I just have this gnawing ache that we can get that consultation ramped up quickly in surrounding areas.” “It’s not until people are looking at a 3D model” they respond.  Carried unanimously.

10.8 Moonee Valley Paid Parking Plan

This motion introduces paid parking in new areas in MVCC for $1 per hour.

Cr Sharpe moves the officers’ recommendation with a point 5 asking for a detailed report six months post-installation. Cr Lawrence seconds. Cr Sharpe says the report seeks to trial paid parking at a small number of locations. The trial aims to manage parking demand.

Cr Lawrence says it is a “delicate subject”. He says the rate-base is not what it was. He mentions the City of Hobson’s Bay and it cost $12 for two hours. “I make the point a gold coin for an jour is fairly insignificant.” The spaces are not near shopping strips and will not impact traders. (Some are??)

Cr Byrne says she doesn’t see it as a revenue raiser, but more a “behavioural base”. “We want the turn-over.” She says it is a trial.

Cr Nation says this trial is more about changing behaviours and pushing the concept of sustainable transport and “make people think about how they are moving around the municipality”.

Cr Marshall says it is “fascinating to be listening to the debate”. “I concur with Crs Byrne and Nation that this is not about revenue raising.” She says if it were she would not support it. She says the resources should be going into creating new parking particularly into Moonee Ponds. “I’m concerned this will not have the desired outcome.” (She seems to be concerned the cost of the parking won’t be enough to change behaviour and that the focus should be on creating more parking).

Cr Sharpe says it is a complex and contentious issue – and that’s it’s about managing parking and “ear-marking pressure points”.

FOR: Sharpe, Sipek, Byrne, Gauci Maurici, Lawrence

AGST: Nation, Marshall

10.9 Update to Response to Notice of Motion 2017/21 – Electric Car Charging Infrastructure

It’s excellent MVCC is giving this issue attention, but this motion doesn’t really move this forward. The motion recommends continuing to monitor community need and changes in state government policy.

Cr Lawrence says this is a good initiative. Cr Nation says it is still early days and there hasn’t been enough modelling. Cr Nation says there is still uncertainty about who bears the cost (surely one can pay for charging like one pays for petrol…?????). Carried unanimously.

10.10 Significant Tree Register – Summary of submissions post consultation

This is a really interesting document and I wish I had time to read it thoroughly. Most of the submissions are against the inclusion of trees in the register.

I asked if a particular tree near our back fence could be included, but it wasn’t deemed significant 😦 (But thanks to officers for getting back to me).

Cr Marshall moves the officers’ recommendation. Cr Nation seconds. Cr Marshall says there were a number of submissions – mainly from private land owners who are concerned about trees being protected. Officers have recommended some trees be removed because they don’t exist anymore (either because they have been removed with or without a permit). It will go to a panel and people will have an opportunity to present there. “It is a long, but important process.”

Cr Sharpe says “trees are vital and we need them” but she worries about the consultation process. She says the unresolved submissions will be going to the planning panel, but she is not entirely comfortable with it.

FOR: all councillors except Cr Sharpe

AGST: Cr Sharpe

10.11 Windy Hill and Essendon Football Club

This will be a big undertaking – and an opportunity for MVCC to avoid the community concern of 2010 and get this right.

Cr Nation leaves as his business and swimming club operate out of Windy Hill.

Cr Gauci Maurici moves the officers’ recommendation. She says Windy Hill is important to the community. Cr Lawrence seconds saying the significance of Windy ill lies in its history and he would hate to see that forgotten. He says it needs work, and consultation is needed. It’s not just about football, he says.

Cr Sharpe says Windy Hill has been on Council’s agenda for many years. She says she has given feedback to officers about how council needs to communicate given the report talks about demolishing the buildings and developing a new community centre. “My concern has been all along that the wider community weren’t going to have input into this.” “I really want to know exactly want the community want to see and feel at the site, but it has a history … and we need to be very careful about how that is managed.” “I hope we get great feedback – we don’t know what people are thinking.” “We haven’t gone out and asked … the wider community.”

Cr Marshall says “we have been having the same discussions for a number of years now” and the opinions of the wider community have been missing. “There are a range of stakeholders on site who have differing views.” “The possibilities here are endless, but we don’t know because we haven’t gone out to the community.” “The existing Masterplan is deficient.”

Carried unanimously.

10.12 Community Sport Infrastructure Fund (CSIF) Update – Overland Reserve

I don’t know the background to the Overland Reserve pavilion, but Council is asked to decide on a way forward. Obviously the East Keilor clubs involved will be impacted.  Hope no clubs are forgotten 🙂

There is an interesting table on page 112 of the meeting agenda.

Cr Marshall moves that Council proceed with Option 4 at a cost of $3.9m which will require an additional $280K extra budget which amount includes an SRV grant of $250K … if the East Keilor Cricket Club and Football agree … and if they don’t agree and relinquish their lease … then the project should be abandoned. Cr Sharpe seconds.

Cr Marshall says the existing pavilion needs an upgrade. There were concerns about the space clubs would have to use. “What’s been important is that the football club has got off their backside and put money in  themselves… and worked with council to source external grants.” “A lot of clubs don’t do that.” “On that basis I’m OK with supporting the revised design.”

Cr Sharpe says “we have got to a good result”. Cr Byrne says she only saw the plans an hour ago. She says she like consistency and that Cross Keys has more members but a smaller space. She is also concerned that the grant for $250K was for inefficiency reasons and yet it will be put to social space. “I don’t necessarily agree with how we’ve gone about it.”

Cr Gauci Maurici and Cr Lawrence speak as well. Cr Gauci Maurici says she has only just seen the plans and she says she has not had time to interrogate the data. She says the extra money is worrying given the grants Council has not received, and there is a lack of evidence about the expenditure of the extra $200K.

Cr Nation asks if the motion on the board isn’t going to invalidate the SRV grant. The response is that the grant will go to the project.

Cr Marshall says she is mindful talking about women in leadership and that the changes are about making the pavilion more female friendly. “I can’t think of another pavilion we have done where a club has contributed its own money. … They put their own hand in their pocket.” “If that had occurred at Cross Keys” they might have got more. “Clubs will turn around and say why would we bother.” “We need to really be encouraging clubs to be putting in their own money.” “We need the clubs to be coming to the table.”

FOR: Sipek, Nation, Marshall, Sharpe, Lawrence

AGST: Gauci Maurici, Byrne

No other matters – so the Council meeting is closed for confidential reports.

Confidential Reports

38-42 Scotia Street, Moonee Ponds – Consideration of an in-principle agreement reached at a VCAT Compulsory Conference

327-357 Mt Alexander Road, Ascot Vale – Demolish buildings and construct buildings and works comprising a multi-storey mixed-use development and four triple storey townhouses in a Commercial 1 Zone, Heritage Overlay (HO363) and Design and Development Overlay (DDO3), use   of   the   land   for   dwellings,   a   reduction   in   car   parking requirements and alteration of access to a road in a Road Zone, Category 1

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