Tuesday, August 18, 2009

From The Chamber -Council Meeting- tues AUG 11

Sorry for the delay in posting this - full minutes can found on link to council
This was fairly short meeting - the economic downturn has certainly had an effect on planning applications.

Planning - the application for the proposed development at 34 Ames ave Carnegie was refused. This was the second time this application had come before council and similar concerns about this development were raised by crs. Even though this application was recommended to be accepted by officers , the majority of crs felt that it was still inappropriate because of the bulk and scale of the 7 apartments envisaged.

The site was abbutted on 3 sides by a minimal change housing zone and was located right at the edge of the Murrumbeena neighborhood centre. It was felt by most crs that this application didn't respect the transitional nature of the location and I certainly supported this view.

Quarterly Reporting- this detailed report details GEs performance in a wide range of areas
and quantifies results against previous mths-Some of the more impressive achievements were the ongoing service performance of the council call centre. In June the centre handled almost 7000 calls and counter enquiries, resolving 80% at the first call with an average waiting time of under 10 secs. I am certainly glad residents can talk to a real life operator quickly!

I think for the first time an external reporting section was included with assessments of some areas of GE performance by professional bodies- Certainly on financial and reporting matters GE is rated highly. On diversion/ recycling rates this is not so rosy and I will cover this in the next section.

Sustainable Waste Management- this item dealt with efforts to promote and improve GEs recycling rates and re-use of waste materials

Diversion Rate- this is the rate of waste that is diverted from landfill and relates directly to how much waste is recycled- presently GE has a 34.1% diversion rate which is quite poor and we are ranked 24 out of the 30 metropolitan councils.

One of the main reasons for this is that GE is one of only two councils in melb that continue to use 240 litres as their std size garbage bin. The vast majority of municipalities use 120 litres with some now using 80 litres as the std size weekly garbage bin. Experience has shown that this downsizing increases recyclables collected and reduces the tonnage collected. Downsizing also encourages the uptake the the optional green waste service.

At present the current cost differential in GE between the 120 and 240 lt bins is $12.80. What is proposed is the possibility of increasing this differential to encourage residents to downsize.

In the 09/10 budget there is $140k allocated for market testing, education and a bin choice survey. Council voted to authorise an analysis of different price differentials and related considerations with a further report back to council


  1. Neil, I must take issue with the spin that is inevitably part of the Quarterly Reports. The statistics provided tell the community absolutely nothing about the QUALITY OF THE SERVICE, NOR ITS PERCEIVED OUTCOMES. Wonderful that phone calls are answered in nano-seconds - but is the customer 'satisfied' with the results? The conversation may end at the 'first port of call' - but again, do we have satisfied customers. Have their COMPLAINTS (a word that doesn't exist in the glen eira lexicon) been attended to, fixed up, drawn to the attention of relevant sectors, and how long did it take to fix/address/resolve any such complaints. As to the figures on public questions - the same whaffle. How many were satisfactorily answered? How many even addressed the actual question? How much was spin and how much 'fact'? None of these statistics reveal anything. They are concoctions - nothing more, nothing less. What people really need to know is that they are getting real value for money - not a series of numbers that hide more than they reveal.

  2. Why is there no formal "Complaints Policy" in Glen Eira for dealing with dissatisfied residents who have serious concerns about ongoing issues? How is it that people repeatedly say "council didn't get back to me".

    I've been asked why I don't use the method of "contact that most other residents do", and ask a direct question of the department concerned, rather than a Public Question through Council.

    The answer is simple, I don't trust the answers I'm given over the phone because there is no confirmation that the information is actually correct.

    I had my fingers burned quite badly a couple of years ago, when ringing about a Budget Estimate on the Fire Services Levy, the answer was thousands of dollars out from the correct cost, because the answer was "I think". But it was my word against theirs.

    Until Council adopts a facility where residents emailed questions can be retained easily (copy option not available) and some one takes responsibility for the answers at a later date - then all bets are off.

    I will continue to go through the most formal process available to me, to ensure I am receiving the correct information. That frequently the question is not actually answered for many residents who write Public Questions is on the record.