Debneys Park – location of proposed Hub, Saturday 18 May, 9:45am
Just me in the gallery for tonight’s Council meeting. I have a couple of questions about the budget.
Opening and Reconciliation Statement – the Mayor opens the meeting.
Apologies and Leave of Absence
No apologies. Crs Cusack and Marshall may be delayed – they are not here yet.
Confirmation of Minutes: Budget Submission Committee Meeting and Ordinary Meeting of Council held on Tuesday, 28 May 2019. Minutes are confirmed.
Declarations of Conflict of Interest – None.
Presentations – The Mayor announced that, sadly, Eugene Hammer has passed away. He was a former Mayor and Councillor and active in the community for many years. The funeral was held today. Cr Cusack had expressed a wish to convey some words, but he is currently not in the chamber.
The Mayor also mentions an exhibition at the Incinerator Gallery.
Cr Cusack has just walked in. He is invited to say a few words about Eugene Hammer. Cr Cusack talks about Eugene’s contribution to Council and public life from the early 1990s, particularly his work with the Italian club and sporting clubs in the area.
Petitions and Joint Letters:
Parking restrictions for Grace Street, Moonee Ponds – 31 signatures from residents of Grace Street Moonee Ponds, requesting the introduction of timed parking restrictions in Grace Street. Cr Nation moves a motion to ask for an investigation and report back to Council. Carried unanimously.
Public Question Time
Questions from me:
Some points from the Council report: operating expenditure of $160.9 million; capital expenditure of $64.7 million; operating surplus of $14.2 million.
Cr Byrne moves, Cr Surace seconds, an alternative budget with the following changes:
- Add $5000 to budget for the Italian Pensioners Group of Essendon
- 21/22 and 22/23 for Flemington Community Hub (FCH) – to $12m and $8m
- Clifton Park pavilion – from medium to short term
- Boeing Rsve Pavilion – from short to medium term
- Reduce total cost of FCH from $42.5m to $20m
Cr Nation asks whether Council officers are supportive of the $5000 to the Italian Pensioners Group. The answer is yes, that it is more appropriate for this to go through budget rather than grants.
Cr Nation asks whether Council officers are supportive of the change to funds for FC Hub. The answer is no, because the Hub is in the MV2040 plan and is needed to address community needs.
Cr Nation asks whether Council officers are supportive of the changes to the time frames to Clifton Park and Boeing Reserve. The answer is no, because designs for Boeing Rsve pavilion have been completed and the officers believe some other pavilions need work, and changes at Clifton Park would also need to be accommodated.
Cr Byrne speaks to the motion. She talks about the Strathnaver Reserve carpark and the need to finish and assess the first stage prior to considering the second stage.
She talks about the switch of time-frames for Clifton Park and Boeing Reserve: she understands these matters can be contentious but she understands many people use Clifton Park pavilion and it is unsuitable for female participants currently.
She says the elephant in the room is the Flemington Community Hub. She says there have been significant changes. She says she has not understood how everything in the consultation could possibly be accommodated. She says she would love to build a $40m Hub, with courts and wetlands, but that Council has many capital works pressures. She is concerned about the changes to timelines to the walking and cycling paths to MVRC and wetlands.
She says MVCC has been unsuccessful in securing federal and state grants by those winning government. “We had a massive project where we had a big ask” and we didn’t get anything, she says. She says it is not fair to the community to promise what can’t be afforded. She does not think $40m (for the Hub itself) is what “we as a Council can afford at the moment”.
Cr Surace says she seconded the motion for the purposes of debate. She says that if there is a design completed for Boeing Reserve, it could be completed in future years.
She says she is also concerned about the financial commitment to Flemington Community Hub. She says future budgets can consider further funds.
Cr Cusack says “obviously has to bite”. He says he cannot see how halving the money to the Hub is of benefit to the community. (He sounds very angry and a bit aggressive – tbh.)
He says that “down that end of Flemington” there is a “crisis in accommodation for education and health”. He is arguing that the “worried well” of East Keilor should not take precedence over the needs on Flemington. He calls it an “attack” on the well-being of Flemington. He says the “community down there” should not be impacted by a need to build a Highball Stadium in East Keilor.
Cr Nation says it is a “sad, depressing motion” that is a “blatant reduction of funding for the FCH which is what depresses me about this motion”. He says the FCH is not “giving residents on the estate a choice”. “If you live in the flats … you don’t have a backyard … so you need your community centre as a place to learn your instruments and play with friends that isn’t out in the park in the dark.”
He says the Hub “was going to have so many facets for the most disadvantaged members of the community” – it was about “being fair – F-A-I-R, fair”. He also talks about money being taken from vulnerable people in Flemington for East Keilor. (I think you have to listen to this because Cr Nation is also pretty aggressively attacking Cr Byrne’s motion. IMHO the arguments could be put with more civility. Cr Byrne has raised important concerns about the concentration of funding for the FCH and whether money can be potentially allocated in stages.)
Cr Lawrence says the budget is responsible and realistic. He says the surplus is healthy. Cr Lawrence’s concerns have been about the long-term capital works plan and resources plan. He thanks the Council officers who have put the budget together.
Cr Lawrence supports the deferral of Boeing Reserve pavilion given the facility close-by.
Cr Gauci-Maurici speaks about the strategic resource plan. She mentions all of the ongoing investment Council is making into roads, rubbish and parks. She says she is in two minds about Flemington. She says additional funding promises haven’t come through. But she also says she sees the need of the community at the Flemington estate. She wishes she could vote line by line.
Cr Marshall interrupts to ask whether the vote on the motion can be conducted in separate parts. The officer says the motion can be split up. Cr Marshall asks if this can be done.
The Mayor says she will consider how this can be done.
Cr Gauci-Maurici says Council needs to think long and hard about every dollar that is spent.
Cr Marshall says “it is the most shameful motion” she has seen. “We have multiple pavilions in your wards that we have supported”. And that this says to officers not to put the true cost of projects into the budget.
She says this goes to whether Myrnong is appropriately placed in the City of Moonee Valley. She says she will start the petition about moving Myrnong Ward out of Moonee Valley. She says the rate base for MVCC comes from Myrnong Ward.
She says she calculated the spaces that could have pavilions in other wards (apologies I lost track of the point here).
She says she is concerned about the Strategic Resources Plan because of the assumptions in the plan that are counter to her values. It’s good for councillors to show their hand and show “whether they are fair people”. “It’s really incredibly disappointing to see this up here.”
Cr Gauci-Maurici asks about the difference between the budget for FCH as opposed to the precinct. The officer says the $42.5m was for the Hub – and other moneys for the outdoor upgrades. There is no specific answer available now about what can be afforded, but officers are looking for an answer before the vote.
The Mayor says the vote will be split up.
$42.5m for the building. And the officer will need five to ten minutes to get a clear answer.
Cr Marshall says if some figures are being revealed from the confidential Appendix, then other figures should also be revealed. (I think she is saying the $42.5m is from the confidential Appendix D. But the $40m figure has been in various Council documents, including the Advocacy plan, and the long-term capital works document – Appendix C – says there is a 3% pa escalation cost. So over 2 years, $40m becomes $42.4 with 3% escalation.)
The meeting is adjourned for five minutes.
The councillors and officers all leave the chamber lest the journalist and I might overhear confidential discussions! (FTR, we offered to leave so they didn’t all have to vacate, but our offer was rejected!).
Everyone troops back in. (I’m almost sorry I am here given that my – and the Leader journalist’s presence – caused the room to vacate!).
There seems to be some concern that confidential information has been disclosed, but there really hasn’t been. As explained above, the advocacy document has stated for months that the FCH budget is $40m (plus 3% pa additional escalation costs) and there is a $25m cost for the precinct. (I’m really not sure what the issue is.)
Cr Marshall asks whether the $42.5m listed in the motion was a confidential amount. The officer says he is not able to disclose a figure from the confidential report.
Cr Nation asks how the figure $42.5m has been arrived at.
Cr Marshall says the SRP is based on assumptions. She says if this figure is not in the confidential report, then what does it mean? the Acting CEO advises there is no further information can be provided.
The Mayor says Council will vote on each item separately. Cr Marshall asks repeatedly what this means.
Cr Byrne says she is doing her best to make hard decisions. She says it is reasonable to be fair and open, that it is a big decision for Council to make. All councillors are present and all councillors can vote, she says.
The Mayor asks for a vote on each item:
1 i) – Strathnaver – carried unanimously
1 ii) – Warrick Crt – carried unanimously
1 iii) – El Reno Cres – carried unanimously
1 iv) – Italian Pensioners – Cr Nation asks for clarification about whether officers support the motion as he has some written notes to contradict the earlier advice that it was supported – the officers say it is OK through the budget, but not suitable as part of the Grants project as it is paying for rent. Cr Nation asks again. And is given the same answer.
The Mayor says the officer has given the answer three times.
Cr Marshall asks the same question. The Mayor asks whether the officer would like to give the answer for the fourth time. The officer replies again.
Cr Marshall asks “on what basis?” The officer gives the same answer. The Mayor asks the councillors not to debate the matter.
For: Crs Surace, Sipke, Sharpe, Byrne, Cusack, Gauci-Maurici, Lawrence
Agst: Cr Marshall
Cr Nation says he wants to abstain. The Mayor says he can’t. Cr Nation leaves the room saying he can’t vote as he was given conflicting information. He then returns.
b) Cr Byrne checks that she can move given she moved the original. She is advised she can. Cr Surace seconds.
For: Byrne, Surace, Sipek, Sharpe, Lawrence
Agst: Nation, Marshall, Cusack, Gauci-Maurici
c) i) Clifton Park – carried unanimously
c) ii) Boeing Rsve – carried unanimously
c) iii) FCH – For: all except Nation, Cusack, Marshall – carried. So FCH funding reduced from $42.5m to $20m (plus additional $20m for precinct).
2. All except Cr Cusack
3. Carried unanimously
4. Carried unanimously.
Reflecting on this – $65m on one project in Flemington has always been a very large concentration of funds. $40m on one facility – regardless of the location – and another $25 for landscaping seems ambitious. There is genuine concern for the welfare and quality of life for residents in Flemington, shared by everyone I know. But the construction of a $40m Hub is not the only way to address the complex and multiple needs. Perhaps Council could vigorously advocate for the State Government to put more than $30m into the redevelopment of the estate – and fund some excellent community facilities on the estate.
Perhaps Council could advocate for DHHS to finally put an Office of Housing office on the Flemington estate – rather than requiring residents to make their way to Ascot Vale for any small issue.
Perhaps Council could advocate to the State government to make sure the lifts in the 20 storey buildings are cleaned at weekends – and that the rooms at the bottom of each building are equipped with heating and are made accessible and comfortable for residents.
It would be wonderful if we had endless funds to build something in every suburb – especially where there is measurable need. But surely something amazing can be built for $20m – with another $20m for landscaping.
It may well be that when the consultation report comes back to Council, some further thought can be given to what funds are needed to achieve a great outcome and further adjustments could be made as necessary – or as external funding is acquired.
And one last thought – the $20m saved from FCH was not reallocated, so the Myrnong Ward Councillors could have moved for this to be spent on the hub itself moving forward the Debneys Precinct landscaping (costed at $20-25m) that is currently scheduled for 2031-2040+. Maybe next year.
Response to NoM 2019/06 – Safety lighting in public open spaces
Two requests have been received for the installation of lighting at Hassett Crescent Reserve. The Council recommendation suggested safety measures that didn’t include lighting.
Cr Surace moves a motion to investigate lighting options for the walkway between Keilor Park Drive and Darling Close. She says lighting is needed to improve public safety – including tripping, perceptions of safety, and physical safety.
Cr Surace says users of the pathway raised the concerns and that Council has a duty of care to protect the community. Some lighting remains broken and so despite the cutting back of trees and bushes, the walkway is still dark.
Crs Gauci-Maurici and Sipek also speak to the motion supportive of the need for lighting for safety. It is only 30m in length.
Cr Marshall says the motion is only asking for a report and asks that the report canvases the advice from the police – in order to deal with any negligence claims.
Cr Gauci-Maurici asks a question about police advice. The officer says that any additional lighting in the area could result in additional safety issues (I will have to check as this sounds odd – I might have it mixed up!)
Response to petition: traffic management during events held at
the Flemington Racecourse and Melbourne Showgrounds
Cr Marshall moves the officer’s recommendation.
That Council resolves to:
- Write to the Victoria Racing Club and request the following event traffic management arrangements for all Melbourne Cup Carnivals and all music festivals held at the Flemington Racecourse (regardless of the number of patrons attending); and
- Write to the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria and request the following event traffic management arrangements for all music festivals (that attract more than 10,000 patrons) at the Melbourne Showgrounds:
- – Provide a full road closure of Wisewould Street and Duncan Street at Epsom Road.
- – Provide a partial road closure of Wisewould Street and Duncan Street at Ascot Vale Road.
- – Provide a total of four (4) Traffic Controllers, to be located at the following intersections:
- – Wisewould Street and Epsom Road
- – Duncan Street and Epsom Road
- – Wisewould Street and Ascot Vale Road
- – Duncan Street and Ascot Vale Road
- – Traffic Controllers to allow residential and local visitor access only to and from Wisewould Street and Duncan Street at Ascot Vale Road.
2018/19 Capital Works Program Update
This includes $85,000 for Mobile Bin Renewals – that seems like a lot to me!
The meeting has been adjourned as Cr Marshall has waked out in tears. Although she walks straight back in. But the meeting is adjourned for five minutes.
Notice Of Motion No. 2019/16 – Urban Forest
That Council resolves to receive a report at an upcoming Ordinary Council meeting in light of Council’s 30 per cent canopy cover target and the acknowledgement that this target will not be achieved solely via planting on Council owned or controlled land, regarding options to establish a fund similar to the Urban Forest Fund established by the City of Melbourne. The report should consider partnering options and opportunities within existing funding streams.
All the councillors that speak are supportive of the motion.
Cr Sipek moves an urgent matter regarding the management of Riverside and that the meeting be closed in order to deal with the matter.
Cr Nation says he needs to hear more about the matter to understand whether it is urgent.
There is some discussion about whether this can be done without closing the meeting.
Cr Sipek reads something further – but then is asked to explain further. He says it is a contractual matter with regards to the Riverside Golf, tennis and netball centre. He says everyone is aware of what’s going on.
Cr Marshall moves that the Council meeting be closed to debate whether the matter is urgent.
The Mayor says there are already a mover and seconder and so the matter could be voted on.
Cr Nation says there is no indication about whether the matter is urgent.
The Mayor says Cr Sipek explained an issue has arisen and could not be delayed.
Cr Byrne moves a procedural motion that the motion be put.
For: All except Cars Nation and Marshall
Crs continuing chatting while the motion is voted on.
So the meeting is closed to consider the matter.
Close of Meeting