Providing Local Leadership: Safer Clarence Park Rail Station

A safer Clarence Park Rail Station is high on my agenda. This is one of those Advocating at State & Federal Level issues I spoke of yesterday.

 

Safer Clarence Park Rail StationA safer Clarence Park Rail Station has already been recognised through our local Clarence Park Neighbourhood Watch. Living so close to the rail station, being a frequent user, and conscious of the safety issue I am looking to take this to the State Government.

Prior to the electrification of the Seaford (previously Noarlunga line) the station had self closing gates at all 4 entrances. In spite of the increased safety risk with the use of more silent trains nothing happened. DPTI argued back then, that safety was not an issue.

Attempts in the past with the previous Government to reinstate them were unfortunately not successful. With a new Government and with a new Council comes fresh hope. Hope that appropriate safety comes back to the Clarence Park Rail Station.

This with the Clarence Park Community Centre child care service located directly opposite the station in Black Forest. Likewise with the Clarence Park Community Kindergarten on the other side in Clarence Park.

I have witnessed many train drivers sounding their horns to alert pedestrians about to step out in front of the train. They have done it to me even though I believe I was far enough back and alert to their presence.

This should not be the primary strategy for safe crossing at the Clarence Park Train Station. Like nearby Fairfax Avenue and Victoria Street there should be self closing gates at the Clarence Park Train Station. Like also exists at the Hove and Oaklands Rail Stations.

I will work for you, providing local leadership, if you allow me to work with you to lobby for this safety necessity.

Written & authorised by Don Palmer, 19 Kelvin Avenue, Clarence Park SA 5034

Externally imposed Rate Capping I believe to be poor policy.

Externally imposed Rate Capping I believe to be poor policy. Poor policy that you will (in time) pay dearly for. I expect that your other representatives will also view it as poor policy. We will need to wait on Monday’s special council meeting to know however.

Balancing the BudgetThe Rate Oversight Bill being considered by Parliament is aimed at shifting oversight on Council rates. From you to another arm of state government.

We are accountable to you. They are not. Do you want a single philosophy (rate capping) decided by a body, not accountable to you, to determine what services are provided you by your local council.

We will consider this at Monday night’s special council meeting. In so doing we will not simply vote yes or no. We will consider and make public our reasons for our decision.

I for one continue to be concerned that the Bill is bad policy. I say this even though I and Unley support the rationale of setting the rate first and cutting your cloth to suit.  Council and its community are surely best placed to provide this oversight.

My primary concerns I have shared with you last night. Some of my other concerns, which I am sure we will discuss on Monday night, I put on record below.

Grant Funding

South Australian Councils receive the lowest per-capita share of state government funding in the country.

I ask, is this State Government ready to put their hands in their pockets to bring us in line with the rest of the country.  We have yet to hear from them on this.

I doubt it. It is more likely there will be a continuation of cost shifting to local government (see next).

Cost Shifting-Overview

As the Government promotes their intention to avoid you paying more than you need to for the services provided by your local government we must all ask what guarantees they are going to provide against cost shifting. Cost shifting is a practice for governments of both persuasions have thrust upon local government.

Mandatory Fees and Charges

Many of our services are subject to a fee for service. An example of cost shifting is services such as Development Assessment. As I indicated in a recent post, rate payers subsidise these services and substantially. This will be even worse since the larger development projects are now being assessed by the State Commission Assessment Panel.

Is this fair?

Will the new government and future governments ensure we can truly get cost recovery for this service? I doubt it. I doubt it very much.

Social Housing

One of the most significant cost shifting is (by default) the transfer of management of social housing to community housing providers. When the previous government did this they also legislated that these providers receive a mandatory 75% rate rebate on council rates.

A reduction in their costs but a reduction in our revenue. The loss of this income has been transferred to you by way of rate increases above CPI.

The current government has made no offer to reverse this.

Not a huge impact on Unley but for some councils prohibitive. Of course, much of the medium density housing is expected to be social housing.

Solid Waste Levy

Rate payers through their councils pay the State Governments solid waste levy. To fate, to the tune of $118m. Very little of this money has been used for the intended purpose which is to improve recycling.

And catch this. The rate has increased 1450% since 2001. 9% this year. Compare that to the amount your council rates have increased.

To date of course, there is no indication from the government that they will peg these astronomical increases or (better yet) remove the levy. Perhaps ESCOSA should be commissioned to set these rate increases rather than the government.

No! What we have learnt from them is they believe we should be able to absorb the increased costs we are to be burdened by due to the recent China refusal to take that same underfinanced recycled material.

Finally

I wonder too about such things as:

  • As intimated above, if the government is serious about ensuring value for money for rates and taxes maybe they should be mandating that ESCOSA, as an independent body, be given the responsibility for capping such things as state government taxes, levies, fees and charges.
  • Should ESCOSA have the power to fine councils for inadvertently breaching the cap, and to name and shame them publicly. Inadvertently. Fined. Shamed. How punitive is that.

All in all then, unless there are arguments that sway my current paradigm, I struggle to see the Government’s proposed legislation as anything other than poor policy. If it is passed then we are going to be severely challenged in complying.

A reminder. The special council meeting will be held in our Civic Centre, commencing at 7.00pm.

Light Tension at Goodwood Oval as Saints Seek More illumination.

Our Council Assessment Panel will feel a light tension this Tuesday night. The Panel meets on that night to adjudicate on a single Development Application.

This application has prompted a not so light tension within the local community. This means it is the only application considered on the night.

Goodwood Oval LightsWith 4 independent members and just one elected member they are appointed under the Development Act to represent Council. They must assess applications based on the Act, the Development Regulations and the City of Unley Development Plan.

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On Tuesday night they must decide whether to accept or refuse a Development Application by the Goodwood Saints Football Club. The club is seeking to extend the hours of use of the lights at Goodwood Oval.

As part of the process of determining the fate of the application they have received no fewer than 150 representations. Around half of these oppose the proposed development, half support. Some of those who have provided a representation will take the opportunity to verbally present to the Panel.

The tension between the Club and nearby residents caused by this application should not deter the Panel from their responsibility under the Act. That said I imagine there will be more than just a light tension in the gallery on Tuesday night.

As they exist courtesy of the Development Act and not the Local Government Act the panel cannot be lobbied. This is unlike when Council considers an issue. Even Council can’t influence them.

When the Panel read representations or hear testimonies they must evaluate them in purely development plan terms. This is enhanced with the influence of elected member diminished to just one of five. This courtesy, of course, of the former Planning Minister John Rau.

The big question is, will they agree with the recommendation of Council’s Planning Department who believe the application is not seriously at variance to the Development Plan.

Is there a problem with Local Government Code of Conduct?

Members of this Council have publicly questioned in recent times the application of the Local Government Code of Conduct. They are asking, is there a problem with Local Government Code of Conduct.

the cornerstone of public behaviour

This may well be because three of us in the last 12 months have been the subject of accusations under the Code. Is there a problem with Local Government Code of Conduct?

It is not my intention to comment on any of these accusations. Two have been dealt with already. The minutes of the meetings at which they were dealt with can be accessed from our website. The third will be considered at our next Council meeting.

Three in a year. Gee that sounds like a lot. No, it is not. It is three in this term of Council, an average of one per year. Honestly, we at Unley can be proud that our Council, has had only three.

So, Is there a problem with Local Government Code of Conduct?

There are two sides of the coin as I see it.

One side is that many, no most, of the accusations are trivial in nature. The recommendation by the relevant tribunal dealing with these complaints is consistent. That recommendation is the Council seek a public apology from the accused member.

The other side of the coin is that members do need to realise that the public require a higher standard of behaviour than they do of themselves. Like prominent sports stars and celebrities, we must accept their bent to hold us to a higher standard. By and large I believe we do a good job in the main. There are but a handful of members who transgress at a serious level.

That is just part of being an elected member. I ask my colleagues (and myself) to remember this with all our dealings.

I do believe the system needs an overhaul however but that is the subject of a future blog.

Council will consider all the options for the new Goodwood Oval Grandstand

With the recently reported $2.5 m grant already secured Council will consider all the options for development of the Goodwood Oval Grandstand.

Council will consider all the options.

Three options will be considered. They are:

  1. To refurbish the Grandstand; an option originally focused on. It included providing a mezzanine level viewing area/club room.
  2. To provide a new single storey replacement club room. (considered due to structural concerns with option 1)
  3. To provide a new double storey replacement club room. (likewise, being considered for the same reason).

Goodwood Oval Grandstand

Earlier this year Council received interim engineering advice on the first option. Engineers were concerned  about the structural capacity of the existing structure to accommodate the changes we had considered.

The advice was verbal and was not a “considered” engineering opinion.

There is a question therefore on the cost of this option. The chances for cost blowouts on this option are high and they could be significant. I believe it would cost council another $ 20,000.00 to determine what extra engineering would add to the project cost.

This prompted us to consider replacing the old structure with a new building.

In light of this observation the clubs reconsidered their approach. They felt a new structure would potentially better accommodate their needs.

Enter the State Government’s $ 2.5 m grant. This is based on a new grandstand and more appropriately, a 2-storey grandstand.

This coming Monday Council will consider the options. We will consider which option we may seek community input on.

The single storey version will extend the current foot print.  It is single storey however and is the option that provides the smallest investment.

The double storey option will present a slightly larger footprint than the existing. It will be slightly smaller in height than the existing grandstand. Of all the options it provides the best weatherproof viewing for spectators.

And, of course, accepting the Government’s grant will also be on the agenda.

A Third Player Has Emerged in the Fight for Badcoe

A third Player has emerged in the fight for Badcoe. A week ago now, Cr John Woodward announced his intention to stand.

A Councillor for the City of West Torrens Keswick Ward, John announced his intention to run via Facebook and Twitter a week ago.

His candidature should add some spice to the campaign. He will be running as an independent against the endorsed candidates for the two major parties. As you will know from two of my previous posts in the Fight for Badcoe they are as follows. Jayne Stinson for Labor and City of Unley’s own Mayor Lachlan Clyne for the Liberals.

John adds another dimension to a seat I have previously identified as a possible litmus test for the formation of the next Government.

Like the two other candidates he will come as no stranger  to a portion of the Badcoe electorate. That said I am unaware of ever having met him. Having had a number of conversations with both Lachlan and Jayne I will make a point of catching up John.

 What I have ascertained about John comes from his Facebook Page and Website. He is seeking a more collaborative approach to solving problems, NOT the adversarial, bickering, nasty personal attacks that we see from our two major parties.

For more information about John check out John’s election website.

There is yet no announcement from the Greens or from NXT regarding endorsing any candidate. With John’s announcement the other two candidates are out and about.

Lachlan has been pounding the streets in those sections of the Seat of Badcoe where is is not as well know. Jayne, on the other hand is holding two community meetings in little ol’ Clarence Park tomorrow morning.

They will be as follows:

9 am thru’ 9.45 at Dora Guild Playground

10 am thru’ 10.45 at Page Park.

 

Merry Christmas

I wish all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, safe and prosperous new year.

It has been a pleasure to serve you during the past year and I look forward to working with you again next year. In the meantime I look forward to spending time with my family.

May you all also enjoy the festive season and time with family.

A Short Divorce as all of Unley still covered by Eastern Courier.

Not often I write 2 blog posts in one day on the same subject. Today demands it after a swift response to my sharing my earlier blog today with my Facebook page. A Short Divorce as all of Unley still covered by Eastern Courier it appears.

 

The advice received from City West Messenger is that all of Unley will still be covered by the Eastern Courier. This is truly great news for those of us in the western suburbs of the City of Unley. Those who still identify with being an Unley resident can view this as a short divorce.

I thank City West for this information. Thank them also for directing me to a website link wherein you can check which paper your suburb will be served by. All the suburbs affected reveal the Eastern Courier as our paper. You can check yourself if you are interested at http://www.newsaustralia-sa.com.au/yourmessenger/

This weeks edition of the Courier was clear and reads “The CoastCity Weekly, replacing the Guardian Messenger, will cater to Adelaide’s southwest suburbs, covering from Glenelg to Goodwood Road”. Given the advice received it appears the Messenger are prone to wordsmithing errors we at Council are often accused of.

We will all know in a few days, one way or the other!

 

 

 

 

 

Goodwood Oval Port Jackson Fig Tree Update

Staff and I met today on site at Goodwood Oval as part of an exercise to resolve where to from here for the Fig Tree.

 

Goodwood Oval Port Jackson Fig Tree

First up I can confirm that the tree will remain. It has had it’s necessary trimming and now we need to ensure now that we are definitely keeping the tree we have done what we can do to keep the area underneath safe.

A Hazard Management Assessment has revealed that we must do what we can to dissuade people from congregating under the area. In other words we will be looking to simply restrict thoroughfare and the congregation of people under the tree, not prevent access.

What is likely to happen as a first step in the process is to replace the temporary hoarding with a permanent single rail fence. This fence will not follow geometrical lines and will provide access points that will allow people to fetch lost balls etc. Permanent symbolic signage (designed around young children being able to read the message) will be strategically located to prohibit climbing of the tree.

The next step will be to reposition the barbecue and the seating to an area outside the drip line of the tree. We are looking at the area to the north of the tree but need to do some research as to where power is (to feed the barbecue) and sprinkler points to determine the location of the barbecue.

Apparently GAP water which is used here is not allowed near barbecues.

The seats will be positioned under shade with ready access to the barbecue. The area both inside and outside the drip line is earmarked for some landscaping with with planting that is suitable for watering with GAP water.

As part of another project we have for the Oval surrounds we will be planting 12 new trees. Two of these will be Figs, I presume Port Jackson but maybe Moreton Bay. With these trees taking some 20-30 years to mature we are of the belief that planting two more now will provide an opportunity for one to replace this one, in time, as a grandfather tree for the Oval.

St Augustine’s Future looks Secure

As many people in our local community are well aware St Augustine’s Anglican Church in Unley has been at the crossroads without a Priest in charge. This has been the case now for close to 2 years.

The good news today is St Augustine’s future looks secure with the appointment of a new priest.

 

10250048_916100205120849_1505682620921198388_nFinding a new Priest can be a lengthy process for a Church Parish. The process is a long drawn out process. During the search for a new Priest a Parish will have a Locum in Tenens look after them. Sometimes, depending on the time taken to find a priest in charge, they could have one or more Locum Tenens.

The Parish of St Augustine’s has unfortunately endured this twice now since 2003. On this occasion they have had 4 Locum Tenens.

Adding to their woes, the Parish, which has pioneered multi cultural ministry back in (from memory) 2009, has also experienced the loss of their Chinese Minister only a month ago now due to ill health.

 Archbishop Driver on Sunday 12th June announced  to the Parish that the Rev. Mee Ping Lau had accepted his invitation to become the new Parish Priest for both the English and Mandarin congregations of St. Augustine’s Unley.

Rev Lau is a senior priest who was ordained in 1993 in Singapore and has served in two parishes in Sydney Diocese since 1998.  He has been Rector of St. Paul’s Kogarah in Sydney since 2004 where he has ministered to both English and Mandarin congregations.  He is married to Persis Koo.  They have a married daughter (Priscilla) and a son  (Aaron) who is planning to be married in July 2017.

It is anticipated that Mee Ping will be commissioned in early 2017 and he will be appointed as Archdeacon for Culturally Diverse (Chinese) congregations.

I hear a rumour too that Persis Koo may play an important multi-cultural role in the local government industry in South Australia.

Let us pray for the Parish of St Augustine’s, and for Mee Pig Lau and Persis Koo.