Thursday, December 29, 2011

Railway Level Crossings -New findings released

Yesterday the Age published a front page article highlighting a letter to Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder in June by VicRoads chief executive Gary Liddle and Department of Transport director Hector McKenzie (obtained under FOI) strongly advocating that grade separation be done not just at the Murrumbeena crossing but also at Carnegie and Hughesdale.

The short distance between the three stations deemed it impractical from an engineering perspective to do only the Neerim Rd M/Beena crossing as has been canvassed by the Baillieu Government.

The other chief finding was that any further increased capacity (incl a 3rd line) on the Dandenong line would lead to an increasingly traffic gridlock situation in peak times- no surprises here to local residents and regular north-south commuters!

Full article is in links opposite bottom right.

All three crossings as well as the Grange Rd one are located in the State seat of Oakleigh, a previously safe Labor seat on 12.4% still held by Ann Barker but now presently on a more marginal 4.85% . Considering the borderline majority of the Victorian State Government (in power only by two lower house seats) this political scenerio may well present the best chance for grade separation for all these congested crossings in the near future.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Community Events for summer

Serving on the Arts and Culture Committee for the past two years has been both interesting and rewarding. One of the most enjoyable aspects has been having some input into the popular Party in the Park series, fun and free community events.

This summer for the first time there will be an evening concert event at Packer Park Carnegie featuring renowned recording and live artist Clare Bowditch pictured, local band Tinpan Orange and recent battle of the bands winner High Voltage.
One not be missed!

Princes Park - Sunday 15 January - Daytime family event 12-4pm with lots of great childrens entertainers including Blinky Bill.

Packer Park - Under the Stars - Saturday 11 February -Evening concert event from 6pm Featuring Clare Bowditch.

Allnutt Park - Sunday 26 February - Daytime family event 12-4pm -fun for all the family with magicians, performers and the ever popular Pet Expo.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

new Duncan Mckinnon pavillion- concerns raised at delayed commencement

Whilst much of the concerns of recent months has been around the new sports and aquatic centre (GESAC) just up the road Council's other large project- the construction of the new pavillion at Duncan Mckinnon reserve ($8.8m total) is raising its own concerns.

From an expected commencement starting date of mid-2011 and with no tenders for construction yet before Council there are still no firm dates for this project to start and thus to be completed. As a regular visitor to the netball and athletics club activities I understand how this delay is leading to increased uncertainty after community expectations that this much needed new facility would be operational by September 2012.

At the first Councillor assembly meeting in January I have requested a full update and explanation by our administration for the current situation. I acknowledge there were some delays caused by VicRoads in approving the new carpark entrances. However this should not have prevented the preparation and finalisation of the tender documents for construction being completed.

Any potential further starting delay past mid 2012 could have ramifications for the 2013/14 summer athletic competitions.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas

Thanks to everyone who has read the postings throughout the year.

This blog has been going since mid 09 (122 postings so far)and during that time I have endeavoured to write interesting articles on a range of council and community issues. This year it has been particularily useful in outlining my views and presenting alternative perspectives on several important issues in particular the GESAC basketball issue and childcare in general.

It is easy for individual Councillors' voices to be lost amongst the uniformity of Council life- I feel it is important that residents hear the views of those they have elected whilst still being an integral part of the Cr. group. It is possible to do such that and I have worked hard to achieve both!

As Dylan mused 'the times they are a changin'" - The whole outdated mid-nineties economic rationalist (ie Kennett era) approach that has led to such poor community decisions as on the basketball allocation at GESAC and sending childcare fees into the stratosphere are testement to the need for key directional changes in the future.

Will look forward to a productive 2012!,

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 19, 2011

GESAC - basketball - need to review and change allocation process

Earlier today sent this email thru to Crs ,CEO and admin on the need next year to review the whole Expression of Interest process that led to the present unfortunate situation where 1400+ local kids, families and clubs will most probably not be enjoying the brand new facilties at GESAC next year.

It was a case I feel of the wrong process for the wrong situation and an important part of any review will be acknowledging this. To conduct to what amounted to a quasi commercial tender process was to say the least misguided.

"In the aftermath of this years Gesac basketball saga feel it would be helpful to spend time in the New Year reviewing the whole EOI process and the criteria used in assessing.

I feel there are real questions as to whether this was the right way to go from the start.It's too simple and misses the point just to say that the MBA should have submitted a better bid.

There has to be a better way of determining the allocation - one that is more equitable and doesnt over emphasise 'marketing business plans' and court fees at the expense of real community need and the realities of local sport. Will do some research on similar situations for info on different allocation models. In my mind there are similarities to the childcare fees issues about getting the balance right.

In the end the current EOI process lead to a poor outcome that has caused anghst and outcry in our communities- For this reason alone we should work hard to ensure a fairer more community minded process is in place for the second twelve mths of GESAC"

Childcare fees reduced

At the last Council meeting for the year-Dec 13-the following motion was passed unaminously. This was in response to a report I had requested in September for details of fees charged by surrounding councils and other providers in the municipality.

Even though some providers are yet to set fees enough data provided to Crs confirmed that Glen Eira was at the very high end on both accounts. This is a good outcome though to be frank Council should never have increased fees so early (June) or so high initially. Childcare will continue to be a challenging issue for Council!

In part B there are criteria that should be used when considering any future fee rises

Crs Pilling/Tang
That a matter concerning Child Care fees be considered as an item of Urgent
The MOTION was put and CARRIED unanimously.

(a) Child Care Fees
Crs Pilling/Tang
(a) That Council acknowledges the new staff/child ratios in childcare
centres commencing in Jan 2012 whilst improving quality of care will bring increased costs for both parents and childcare providers.
(b) That Council in determining appropriate long daycare fees considers the following criteria: cost to parents, costs to Council, the median fee range as charged by childcare providers in the municipality.
(c) That Council set from 1 January 2012 the following fee schedule for long day care at its three centres at 0-2yo $106 per day; 3-5yo $85 per day.
(d) That Council provides prompt notice of the fee changes to all participating families.
(e) That Council will continue to review childcare fees as part of its annual budget process.
The MOTION was put and CARRIED unanimously

Thursday, December 15, 2011

GESAC - basketball - decision

Here is the final motion passed by Council on Wednesday night - Please see my comments after for further explanation; full details including the preceding report are available in the links- GESAC basketball decision- opposite lower right -starts at page 127 of minutes-use search option at top
Sat 17.12 9.30am Please note have withdrawn prev comment on Cr. Esakoff's voting reason.

Crs Hyams/Lipshutz
That Council
1. Note that:
(a) As the result of a fair and proper Expression of Interest (EoI)
process, the use of the GESAC indoor courts for basketball was allocated to the Warriors;

(b) In the interests of maximising the use of the GESAC indoor courts
by the community, Council's preferred position is that the basketball allocation be shared between the Warriors and the McKinnon Basketball Association (MBA); and

(c) Notwithstanding the allocation referred to in (a), the Warriors have indicated a willingness to share that allocation with the MBA.

2. Allocate the use of the GESAC indoor courts to the Warriors on Fridays from 6pm to 11pm and Sundays from 9am to 11pm.

3. Allocate the use of the GESAC indoor courts to the MBA on Saturdays from 8am to 11pm subject to the MBA agreeing by January 15 2012 to provide two alternative basketball courts to the Warriors from 8am to 7pm on Saturdays to the reasonable satisfaction of the Warriors, or, if such agreement is not reached, or observed, allocate the GESAC indoor courts to the Warriors on Saturdays from 8am to 7pm.

4. In all other respects, apply the terms and conditions of the allocation referred to in 1(a) to the use of the courts by the Warriors and,if applicable, to the MBA.

5. Authorise officers to give effect to this resolution.
6. Incorporate this resolution and this report in the public Minutes of this Meeting apart from Council's legal advice at section 3.4 of this report and in the attachments.

Cr Magee called for a Division on voting of the SUBSTANTIVE MOTION
Cr Tang
Cr Hyams
Cr Lipshutz
Cr Forge
Cr Magee
Cr Penhalluriack
Cr Pilling
Cr Esakoff

The SUBSTANTIVE MOTION was put and CARRIED on the casting Vote of the Chairperson (Mayor Cr. Hyams)

Comment - Only a sucessful motion is recorded according to minutes guidelines. This means that motions voted down including those that myself and Cr.Magee had proposed (see Dec 10 post) are not recorded- We certainly did our best in this regard.

This is a very disappointing decision and a motion that I could not support as it effectively in my view hands the allocation to the Warriors and relies on their benevolance in accommodating the McKinnon Basketball Assoc, a situation that I can't see happenning.

As such there will be over 1400 players and families not participating at GESAC this year. This allocation is for twelve months - There needs to be a far better process in place next year to prevent this unfortunate situation occurring again

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Mayor of Glen Eira elected

Last night Wednesday the 14th December Cr. Jamie Hyams was elected the new Mayor of Glen Eira for the next twelve months.

I congratulate Cr. Hyams on his appointment and wish him all the best for the coming year. He has certainly demonstrated a real passion and commitment to local govt with a knowledge second to none of processes and legalities- a very deserving and well earned appointment.

All Councillors in their Mayoral welcome speeches acknowledged the outstanding effort and contribution of the outgoing Mayor, Cr Margaret Esakoff.

I was fortunate and appreciative to be elected Deputy Mayor.

GESAC - basketball-cont.

I will post details of the motion passed and comments re item 12.8 GESAC Multi-Use Courts that involves the allocation of basketball as soon as publically available which normally takes several days.

Council considered the issue over the the past two nights after reaching the 11pm time limit at the Tuesday night meeting.

The main problem in my view has been the design and oblectives of the original process. I feel the emphasis was too much on fees and 'future marketing plans'.

I have no critisism of the way officers administered the expression of interest process but question the criteria and objectives that have led everyone to the present situation.

Like the increased childcare fee issue I feel Council has taken a too narrow economic rationalist approach at the expense of genuine community need. This really goes to the heart of the matter. There is certainly a need to review the whole process for future basketball allocations at GESAC in the new year.

please note- the posting date can be a day behind.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

GESAC - basketball - last night

At tonight's Council meeting (Tues Dec 13) item 12.8 GESAC Multi-Use Courts was considered by council in the in-camera (confidential) section of the meeting.

I would have liked the item considered in the public section of the meeting but accepted that on further advice this would be difficult to do without compromising the integrity (the separation of the legal and contractual elements) of the item and any subsequent decision.

Both Cr. Magee and myself explained this to the many in the gallery and thanked everyone for attending and taking an interest on this important issue.

The outcome of this item will be made public soon.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

GESAC-new community basketball facilities- ensuring access for all local families and clubs

As reported widely and here in previous postings there has been an ongoing issue throughout the past six months of resolving the weekend allocation usage at our great new indoor court facilities at the soon to be opened Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre(GESAC) in Bentleigh.

This wonderful new $45m community facility,the largest ever built in the municipality, was primarily funded by local ratepayers with significant contributions from both the Federal and State govts. The original expression of interest offer to the Oakleigh Warriors effectively meant that in excess of 1400 local players in the Mckinnon Basketball Assoc would not be playing this season at GESAC- this situation I have consistantly stated is unacceptable.

This Tuesday night in confidential item 12.8 GESAC MULTI-USE COURTS of the Council meeting agenda I will be supporting the following proposed alternative motion and would like to see this item moved into the normal public agenda.

1.That council notes the report
2.That council sets the seasonal hire rate for basketball at GESAC at $40.00 per court per hour.
3.That council awards the Friday tenancy (6pm to 11pm) and Sunday (9am to 11pm) to The Oakleigh Garden State Warriors Basketball Association.
4.That council awards the Saturday (8am to 11pm) tenancy to the McKinnon Basketball Association.
5.That all court fees are payable regardless of court use.
6.That council requires a bond of $10,000.00 per court payable on signing of the lease agreement.
7.That if either association is unable to fill its allocated times, it must first offer that time to the other before it can be offered to any other association, body or individual.
8.That this resolution be incorporated in the public minutes of this meeting. (if in camera)

Will also support a division (a recording of how Councillors vote) on this item.

This is an equitable,reasonable and balanced proposal that caters for both associations and allows for all local kids, families and clubs to use our great new facilities at GESAC. It sensibly balances financial and community responsibilties.

I will be encouraging all Councillors to support this motion .

Monday, December 5, 2011

Womens Charter - improving participation in Local Govt

With local govt elections due next year in Glen Eira I feel it is important that our Council encourages the participation and engagement of women from our community at all levels particularly as Councllors.

The Women’s Charter Project is an important initiative that promotes ideas, action plans and models to further this participation. Full details on links bottom right.

Along with the 62 other Councils in Victoria I will be advocating that Glen Eira also adopts and endorses this charter.

from the latest Municipal Assoc Vic (MAV) bulletin
"The Women’s Participation in Local Government Coalition (WPILGC) has launched its latest tool Closing the Gender Gap – principles, commitments, actions. It provides a list of councils that have endorsed the Women’s Charter, as well as ideas for councils to adopt, examples of 3x3 Action Plans and proposed statewide benchmarks.

The report, the result of the Women’s Charter 2010 Project funded by the Victorian Government and auspiced by the MAV, is one of a number of tools developed to assist councils to increase women’s participation. Other tools include a checklist of actions that can be undertaken for each of the three Women’s Charter principles. To date, 62 councils have endorsed the Women’s Charter principles of gender equity, diversity and active citizenship.

There is still time for more councils to adopt the Charter in the lead up to the local government elections due to be held in 2012."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Issues to resolve - last Council meeting 13th Dec

The last normal Council meeting of the year will take place on Tuesday 13th December.
There are several long outstanding important issues that I will be pressing for a resolution and that have been the subject of many postings over the past almost six months.

Chiefly these are-
-The allocation for the usage of the new indoor basketball facilities at the soon to be opened Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre (GESAC)
Councillors put a hold on the Expression of Interest process earlier in the year whilst seeking legal advice on the initial offer made to an out of municipality association. As reported widely, recently mediated talks have been conducted between the Oakleigh Warriors and the McKinnon basketball associations with a goal of reaching a satisfactory compromise.
Throughout this saga I have consistently stated and strongly advocated that any outcome must include access for all our local clubs.

-The concern at the very large increase in Council childcare fees set to be introduced in Jan 2012.
In September I requested a report that would rank the new Council fees against other providers. Until recently no other providers had released their 2012 fee schedules- all seemingly waiting for the minimum 30 day notice requirement before acting. With this timeline now passed I will look forward to this report being available at the December 13th meeting.
Councillors have been consistantly advised that Council fees are in the average range- it will be interesting to see if this is still the case!