Council Meeting 26 March

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Before getting to tonight’s Council meeting – at which plans for Debney’s Park will be discussed – I’d like to share a story that has astonished me.

I’ve been helping a family who live at the Flemington Housing Estate find their car that  went missing from the estate car park over summer. In trying to find their car, I’ve  learnt that DHHS impounds cars parked at the estate if they are ‘abandoned’ or unregistered.

The process goes something like this:

  • The owner fails to re-register their car (given the high cost of registration this is quite common for people on low incomes).
  • After three months, the police remove the number plates.
  • DHHS then puts a sticker on the car giving the owner a week to contact DHHS.
  • DHHS doesn’t send any written notification to the owner about the notice.
  • DHHS doesn’t contact VicRoads or Vic. Police to try to track down the owner.
  • DHHS don’t record the Vehicle Identification Number.
  • After at least a week, DHHS has the car towed to ManheimFowles Auction-house.
  • DHHS still does not notify the owner of the car.
  • The ManheimFowles wait to hear from the owner. If the owner contacts them, the owner must pay $167 plus towing fees to retrieve their car.
  • If the ManheimFowles doesn’t hear from the owner, the car is on-sold, with the proceeds going to DHHS.

I find this process appalling on many fronts – most notably that DHHS can take ownership of a car parked on DHHS land, remove the car, and receive any proceeds of its sale. Just because a car is unregistered does not give the State the authority to take ownership of it. An unregistered car can’t be driven, but it’s still someone’s property.

It is also astonishing that this can take place without DHHS, at any point, checking the owner of the car with any other state agency and sending the owner a letter regarding DHHS’ intentions to impound, remove, and sell the car.

I am still trying to help my friend find her car as, at this stage, and a week after I first made inquiries, no one is sure whether the car was taken by DHHS – or met some other fate.

In any case, this process sounds incredibly unfair to tenants living in public housing who may not have been able to afford their annual vehicle registration.

Council Meeting 26 March

I’ll be turning up tonight to ask a couple of questions about the Debney’s Park and Flemington HUB consultation.  I understand quite a few other people have questions for Council tonight. The agenda items are listed below. I’ll be there to ‘blog’ how it all goes.

Opening and Reconciliation Statement: The meeting is opened by the Mayor reading the usual script, including the Indigenous Acknowledgement.

Many people here tonight – clearly a lot of issues of concern on the agenda.

Apologies and Leave of Absence: Crs Lawrence, Gauci-Maurici and Sipek are all absent tonight.

Cr Nation seeks leave: 2 April – 25 April. Cr Sipek seeks leave: 26 March – 23 April.

Confirmation of Minutes: Ordinary Meeting of Council held on Tuesday, 12 March 2019. So confirmed.

Declarations of Conflict of Interest: Cr Nation has an indirect COI in 14.1 Conflicting Duty.

Presentations: The presentation for Cultural Diversity Week has been postponed because of illness.

The Mayor shares some words regarding the horrific events in Christchurch. “We extend our hand of friendship across the waters to show our support.” There are condolence books the members of the public can sign and these will be sent to the Mayor of Christchurch. A minute’s silence is shared by all present to mourn those who have passed so tragically in Christchurch.

The Mayor also presents a book launched today by those associated with the Elderly Chinese group – Golden Age. She thanks Edith Chen for her work.

Petitions and Joint Letters

  • Recommencement of the Park and Ride shuttle bus service
  • Paid parking along The Boulevard Moonee Ponds: 5375 signatures for an online petition asking for the cessation of paid parking along The Boulevard, particularly from Holmes Rd, given the likely impact on sporting clubs and events.

The petitions are accepted and the motions call for reports back to Council.

The first passes unanimously. The second has one vote against, being Cr Cusack.

Public Question Time

Eight community member asking questions tonight. We’ll all need to be snappy.

  1. Doug, President of Maribyrnong Sports Club: Q – re correspondence March 11 – please advice what, if any consultation was held with residents, rate payers and sporting clubs re the impacts on the clubs – in particular the football club for home teams and visitors on most weekends during the winter season? With the petition opposing the decision, will councillors revoke the decision and arrange appropriate consultation on alternatives through a consultative process? A: Council chose to inform the stakeholder about the trial about the $1 per hour paid parking and will make a decision further to a Notice of Motion on the agenda later tonight.
  2. Rose: (My questions were next and I will add later with answers.
  3. I’m afraid I missed the next questions about why amended plans were not provided to objectors – I think for 1 St Leonard’s Rd.
  4. Alison: At the consultation meeting in Nov 2018, the developer agreed to consider colour bond roofing. Why has this not been included into the revised drawings? And why has the height of the fence on the side of St Leonard’s Rd not been reduced? A: The notes from the consultation meeting don’t reflect an undertaking to change the roof. The screening of dwelling four is sufficient.
  5. Peter: re 1 St Leonard’s Rd, standards wrt corner sites specify different set backs than those in the proposal – which are also inconsistent with the MVCC local planning policy. Why does the  Council think it is acceptable to not meet the minimum standards? A: The proposal complies with local planning policy, according to officers.
  6. Ruth: re 1 St Leonard’s Rd, the plans show dwelling 4 faces St Leonard’s Rd with a 1.8m fence. How does the proposal meet the objective re high fencing which should be avoided? A: The proposed development is consistent with policies for corner sites.
  7. Anthony: re 1 St Leonard’s Rd, what actions will the developers be taking to deal with the over-shadowing and traffic increases? A: Council believes the proposal complies. (There were more details which I didn’t catch.)
  8. Caterina: re 1 St Leonard’s Rd, why has the developer not made adjustments to maintain neighbourhood character re height of fences and safety for pedestrians? Can conditions be put in place re the nature-strip – including a waste management plan that limits the number of bins? A: The existing fences along St Leonard’s Rd range in height from 1.8 metres to lower. There is a condition for a splay that will address concerns re safety. There are waste-management conditions.

1 St Leonards Road, Ascot Vale – Construction of four double storey dwellings and reduction in car parking

There are obviously a. number of residents here tonight who are not happy with the proposal. Cr Marshall moves the officer’s recommendation with amendments to alter the setback of the fence in front of dwelling 4, with planting to screen the fence. Cr Cusack seconds.

Cr Marshall says the site is unusually shaped. Following the consultation, the studio level has been removed from dwellings 3 and 4. Cr Marshall reflects on a move last meeting to ensure residents receive amended plans where such changes have been made. Cr Marshall says issues about over-looking, drainage, car-parking requirements and height were raised at the consultation meeting. Some of these issues have been resolved by the amendments made.

She says the proposal complies with objectives and has made an attempt to fit in architecturally with the character of the area, and will not diminish the value of surrounding heritage properties.

Cr Cusack supports Cr Marshall’s motion with the amendments. Cr Nation also speaks: “we have duty as councillors, that when we get an application that is adherent to almost all clauses in the planning scheme, we have a duty to assess … and in my view approve the application.” He acknowledge that there are people “that don’t like this development, who probably don’t like any development”.

Carried unanimously.

Many people depart.

8 Janet Street, Keilor East – Construction of three double storey dwellings

Cr Byrne move a motion to refuse the proposal on the basis of … many things. It does not meet the 35% mandatory Garden Area, neighbourhood character, height, material, design, set-back, daylight to existing windows, overlooking, solar access, internal amenity, tandem parking resulting in parking too close to dwellings.

She says not achieving the minimum garden area is a clear cut issue. It has not been met because “they have tried to squeeze too many buildings on too little land”.

Cr Surace concurs. She says the street has predominantly older style single storey homes.  She says the proposal does not fit with neighbourhood character. She says there is a market for single storey units for older residents.

Cr Marshall speaks in support of the motion – and says the mandatory controls should all be enforced given the small number of mandatory standards in the planning scheme.

Carried unanimously.

Flemington Community @Debneys Park – Draft Concept Options

Cr Marshall moves the officer’s recommendation with some additional points – acknowledging the work of FNAG and outlining some aspects of the consultation process. Cr Cusack seconds.

She says the need for a new centre has been an issue for some time including safety. She says the spaces are full and there is a lack of flexibility in the spaces. What should it be replaced with? She says there has been a significant period of consultation up to this time, including the FNAG – “quite a number of meeting which I have been able to get along to”.

There is $40m in the long term capital works plan for the HUB. The broader design elements. We will be asking the community which of the elements the community likes. She says the designs are very different. “Most people will be able to find something within the designs that people will be pleased by.”

In reaction to DMPS, that is something that is up in the air. But there is. Flemington Education Precinct that is going to be happening. Flemington renewal – “we don’t know what will happen with that”. “We need to get about replacing [the community centre].”

Re location – “to has been an interesting journey for me”… “as I’ve interrogated my thinking and considered what has been driving it” … “it was an option that might stop EWL … there was a naivety in my thinking was not necessarily made on sound principles.” Don Goldsworthy’s advice was considered. “That’s why the location has been proposed as it is.”

“We need to keep an open mind and see what comes out of the consultation.” “It’s quite a long consultation period.”

Cr Cusack says the work done by FNAG has been extensive – including asking “who should be consulted?” There was identification of about 100 groups to be part of this consultation. “Remember this was a ballet studio – it was never designed as a community centre … now the bits [added on] are failing.”

“It’s a really important step – it’s an exciting one.” “The designs themselves are very interesting.” “We know the outside space aren’t going to be right for a long time.”  “We have opportunities through different funding sources that will be attracted to this space.”

Cr Nation echos the words of his ward councillors. No issues – let’s see what the phase three community consultation brings. “it will be the largest project in the southern part of the municipality.”

Cr Surace: “Council always gets bagged for not providing for the community.” She says that when we provide great facilities we see what Council is doing. This is about the whole of the municipality. It is a facility for everyone – it is not just for people in the Myrnong Ward.

Cr Byrne says she is a bit torn. She says she understands the need for a new community hub. “My issue is that I don’t think it is fair to be putting out a plan for the community” that cannot be funded. “When I first came onto Council … sporting clubs came to me and said we’d been promised this in this year”. And she had to pull out the capital works plan and show that things were later than people thought. The MV2040 has pushed things out again.

The plans around the HUB will cost $25m: “where are we going to get $25m?” She says she doesn’t want to have to go back to community members and change expectations.

“Do we cut services: childcare, aged care, the depot – or do we raise revenue … or do we start charging for services.” It would be financially irresponsible to be putting this out to the community – but it’s not allocated until 2040 – we might start working on it in 2041. “We need to be bringing in the size of the HUB so we have money for the surrounds,” she says.

Cr Marshall says “respectfully, this is going out on consultation with a clear note that there is $40m to spend … do you like this idea.” “It might come back and everyone wants everything – then we make a decision.” “Tell us what you think?” “We never have anything fully funded.” “We need to be absolutely clear – with the community coming back to us telling us this is how they want the precinct to look.”

“We need facilities that appropriately will provide for our communities.”

FOR: All except Cr Byrne. Carried

Welcoming Cities Network and supporting Diversity Statement
update

Cr Nation moves an amended motion that is pretty much what the officer’s recommended without the part about flying a councillor to Brisbane removed. Cr Surace seconds.

Cr Cusack says “this is a very cheap way of buying in expertise”. He refers to the economic benefits of immigration cited in the Council report. Carried unanimously.

Looks like a great statement and initiative – but I do wish there were some people here who reflected the diversity of Moonee Valley. I think we are all white-fellas here tonight.

2018/19 Capital Works Program Update

Cr Cusack moves. Cr Surace seconds. Cr Cusack says the reports are “pretty straightforward” and that “Council is on track with most bits”.

“It is a difficult time for capital works within our community,” he says. He says being able to access concrete and electrical costs have risen enormously. “Council might be able to feed off the fact that there is less competition for workers than there has been in the past.”

Cr Surace says there are some operational cost impacts given the variations in the capital works budget.

Carried unanimously.

Response to NoM 2018/08 – Local Arts Display Trial

Cr Nation moves the motion to display artworks around the municipality, including in the Council Chamber.

Nice. Carried unanimously. Come be artists – it’s the way to cope with the world!

Review of the Advocacy Strategy

Cr Cusack moves the officer’s recommendation. Cr Byrne seconds.

Cr Cusack says Council has made significant inroads in promoting ideas and has been able to secure funding. Cr Byrne says a train station at Airport West will benefit MVCC residents in many ways. she also mentions the 2000 signatures asking for an indoor netball stadium in Moonee Valley.

Cr Marshall says she hates “sinking money into lost causes”. Cr Surace spoke about the value of the projects for the community. Carried unanimously.

Independent Member Re-Appointment to Council’s Audit Advisory Committee

Cr Byrne and Cr Cusack move the motion – all smoothly passed.

Attendance at 2019 ALGA National General Assembly of Local Government

Cr Nation moves an alternative motion to endorse the attendance of four councillors at ALGA NGA: Sipek, Sharpe, Lawrence, Cusack and that they must provide a written report with the outcomes and benefits. Cr Surace seconds.

Cr Marshall queries whether each councillor is required to provide a written report. The answer is yes.  Cr Surace talks about the important sharing and learning that occurs at national conferences.

Cr Byrne says she is looking at this year’s conference differently – she doesn’t think it is up to her to decide how each councillor obtains their professional development. Cr Byrne says her choice is to read widely, but understands that other may prefer networking. She think four councillors going might look unusual, but every councillor should be pursuing professional development.

Cr Cusack says this is an important conference. Carried unanimously.

Assemblies of Councillors

Cr Surace moves. Cr Byrne seconds. Carried without fuss.

Notices of Motion

  • Advocacy for increased tree canopy on Department of Education and Training sites: Cr Marshall moves to increase tree canopy across schools. Cr Byrne seconds. All good.
  • Review of Secondary College zones: Cr Byrne moves motion re Avondale Heights SC zones affecting students who are zoned to Braybrook SC. Five zones cover Avondale Heights – including Braybrook and Sunshine College that require people to travel circuitous routes (zones are designated by bird-eye view). Rosehill and EKC are not capped, but other schools are capped – possibly including Buckley park (when schools are capped, only children within the zone can attend). MV2040 refers to children easily accessing schools within their neighbourhoods. Cr Cusack talks about the gap in secondary schools in Ascot Vale. Carried unanimously.

Immediate halt to the installation of parking meters along The Boulevard, Moonee Ponds

Cr Nation moves his motion that Council acknowledges the considerable concerns and resolves not to proceed with the proposed parking metres around the Boulevard. Cr Marshall seconds.

Cr Nation thanks the community members who have shared concerns. Cr Nation asks how Council can try to change behaviour without taking benchmark data and assessments about current parking behaviour. There was no consultation with user groups and no Local Area Traffic Management.

$143,000 revenue is at stake. Cr Nation queries the argument that the implementation of the metres is not about revenue raising. he says the volunteers and families playing sport will be the people who pay this revenue.

Maybe the behaviour change will be avoiding the area, avoiding sporting groups, avoiding volunteering and avoiding a healthy and active life.

Cr Marshall supported the motion. Cr Surace says she was ill at the time of the decision and not at the meeting. She supports the motion, she is wary of creating precedents, and suggests any revenue raised could be reinvested in transport options.

Cr Byrne moves an amendment to add a full stop after “parking metres” – so removing the reference to The Boulevard. Cr Marshall offers to second, but the Mayor indicates she can’t as she seconded the original motion.

Cr Byrne asks whether the Mayor can second. She is told she cannot unless she departs the chair. The Chair would need to appoint a temporary chairperson by resolution as the Deputy Mayor is not present.

Cr Cusack says he will want to debate this so doesn’t want to sit in the Chair (obviously Cr Marshall could sit in the chair). Cr Cusack votes against the motion to adjourn to sort it out.

The meeting resumes, and the Mayor appoints Cr Surace who will chair the meeting.(This is meant to be done by resolution of Council according to the Meeting Protocols.)

Cr Nation asks whether a formal amendment can delete a section. The advice is that the amendment cannot make the motion contradictory, but it can substantially change it.

The Mayor clarifies that the temporary Chair needs to call for a seconder for the amendment to be debated. The mayor vacates the chair. Cr Surace calls for Cr Byrne to move the amendment again. Cr Sharpe seconds the motion.

Cr Byrne says that she voted for the trial of paid parking metres, because she did not see the metres as revenue raising. She thinks that Council should cancel this trial as there was not enough background, and that the idea has not been sufficiently conveyed to the community. She has received complaints from other areas as well and thinks Council needs to start over on this issue.

Cr Sharpe says she concurs with Cr Byrne. She says the trial was always going to be a trial – and this was not well communicated, or understood. She was happy to support the trial, because the matter has not been respected by the Council as a whole. She says she gets disheartened when councillors don’t own the decisions that have been made in the Chamber.

Cr Marshall speaks to the formal amendment. She says it is not a sign of weakness to change your mind in the face of new information. It is better to knock this on the head and not proceed at all, rather than to waste resources. “Let’s juts move on.”

Cr Cusack says he does not agree. He says the trial was to gather evidence about behaviour change. He says the “Marby Army got themselves organised.” He says he visited the site and says there are 200 odd car parks, and Council is taking 55 of those out. he says if people park all day, “you are hogging that spot all day”. If you have a parking metre, you stay a shorter time.

“You can stay there for 16 hours and put in ten-bucks … if the fish are biting.”  “We are not making a significant change to current practice. All we are talking about is the driver making a choice on how long you’ll stay there.”

Cr Cusack says MVCC can’t do anything without evidence. He says residents haven’t been told the full story. He says “I don’t get it”.

“I’m sure people can afford that dollar to stay that little bit longer.” “Go to Dandenong, see if you can get a parking sport without a parking meter.”  “Give me a break.”

Cr Nation speaks. He says councillors need to make informed decisions. “The problem is they weren’t told anything.”

FOR: Sharpe, Marshall, Byrne, Nation, 

AGAINST: Surace, Cusack

The motion is carried and Cr Sharpe returns to the Chair. The new motion is the substantive motion – and must be put to the vote.

Any councillor that spoke to the original motion, cannot speak to the new substantive motion. Crs Nation, Marshall and Surace spoke to the original motion.

But the governance officer appears to have forgotten this and says Cr Surace can speak to the new motion. The Mayor clarifies that those councillors who have spoken on the original motion, cannot speak. The Mayor clarifies that Cr Nation, Marshall and Surace have spoken on the original motion.

Cr Marshall says the “original motion is going – it has been amended – so we are debating a new motion – we can all participate.”

The Mayor says she doesn’t believe the meeting procedures allow for that. Another Council officer reads the section above.

Cr Marshall continues nevertheless “we are being deprived our opportunity to debate … there is something majorly wrong with the meeting protocols or there is an interpretation issue”.

The Mayor says this has happened before. “The …

“The meeting procedures are wrong, Mayor” interjects Cr Marshall.

“To clarify, what is happening by these meeting procedures… I’m not having a go at your ruling …” she goes on … “and now you are saying we can’t debate it.”

“They are wrong,” says Cr Marshall.

Crs Byrne and Cusack still can speak. Cr Surace is reminded that she spoke to the original motion.

Cr Byrne speaks to the substantive motion. As does Cr Cusack. He says the paid parking will force people to stay for shorter times are free up the parks for others. He says Council is lacking the information.

FOR: Nation, Marshall, Byrne, Sharpe

AGAINST: Cusack, Surace

Motion is carried. Essentially a recession motion, so I’m not sure why 9.18 from the Meeting Protocol wasn’t enacted regarding Recission Motions. 

Urgent Business

Delegates Reports

Confidential Reports

  • East Keilor Leisure Centre redevelopment progress update Riverside Netball
  • Replacement of Community Strengthening’s Client Management
    System
  • Tender Evaluation Report for Crown Street Stable Accessible Works
  • Close of Meeting

 

 

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