Providing Local Leadership: Outside Clarence Park Ward

Providing local leadership in Council does require an elected member to consider all the Council area, not just their own ward. I have taken a leadership role outside Clarence Park ward in a number of key initiatives.

 

Projects Outside Clarence Park

In the last 8 years I have contributed to, if not driven, many initiatives outside Clarence Park. I intend to replicate this in the next 4 years. Indeed, I have several initiatives as listed below that I particularly wish to promote.

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King William Road

As a small business person, I have been probably the most consistent advocate for the redevelopment of King William Road. Readers of my blog would know how frustrated I was on occasions as the media portrayed what we were trying to do was to decide on whether to keep pavers or bituminise the street. The same readers would know it is much more than that. Indeed, they would know that the final design was something I had envisaged from the time I became your councillor.

The project will commence earlier next year. It still needs strong leadership as the construction process will be challenging for traders, customers and the local residents alike.

Village Green

As a member and a previous Warden of the Parish of St Augustine’s Anglican Church I am intimate with the village green. This is the lawned area behind the Church and the Council Civic Centre. It is in the heart of Unley.

I was a key driver of the paved courtyard area that separates the Village Green and the Civic Centre and Church. The courtyard is now a much used and loved area. It provides a pedestrian access from Rugby Street through to Unley Road. A lovely stroll many take advantage of.

Our last Mayor, Lachlan Clyne, thought so highly of it he used it for his wedding reception after marrying in the Church.

Unley Oval Redevelopment

Like Goodwood Oval I have been integral to what has been achieved so far at Unley Oval.

The picket fencing and the redevelopment of the Jack Oatey stand I proudly have been a major instigator for. Providing local leadership is necessary to see the heritage (McKay) stand redeveloped.

Invigorating Oxford Terrace

I have always seen, since long before getting on Council, an Oxford Terrace that is pedestrian focused. The same as we are now doing to King William Road.

This is a project that has yet not received sufficient support from my colleagues. It has fallen  agonisingly short on a couple of occasions to get to the chamber. I will continue to fight and urge consideration of this being part of our long-term strategy.

Civic Centre Improvements

The Unley Civic Centre remains an inward focused architecture with no reference to the surrounding streets. Now that I have been able to access the inner sanctum as it where, I can also say it is a most inefficient building.

Like Oxford Terrace, by providing local leadership, I am keen to work for you to have us continue explorations that have commenced albeit in a small way. This starts with being re-elected of course.

Authorised & printed by Don Palmer. 19 Kelvin Avenue, Clarence Park.

Providing Local Leadership: Green Verges rather than Ugly Dolomite

Forever berating the existence of dolomite verges that frequent the City of Unley, I recently inspired a solution offered by Council’s administration. We approved in this term of Council a program designed to encourage green verges rather than ugly dolomite.

 

Planting Verges

Planting Verges

Unlike the outer suburbs of Adelaide finish not at the street kerb but at the property fence line. This discourages home owners from looking after what is, at the end of the day, Council property.

 

 

If your lawn continued to the street kerb you would mow it. Unfortunately there is no apparent obligation where it finishes at your fence line.

Therein lies my dilemma. Past Councils saw dolomite as the solution to property owners not looking after the verge in front of their house. Certainly it presented as a cost effective solution. This is because dolomite does not require anyone to look after it. If looking after the verge is to be a Council responsibility it would add significantly to the rates you pay.

Dolomite is that ugly grey material. It pulls down the value of properties where it is the prominent verge solution.

The solution was to encourage home owners to take ownership and work in partnership with us to green the verges. Accordingly, our commitment was to pull up the dolomite and provide loam in lieu. The home owner contribution was to plant the verges. Examples of what could be done were provided by us in Edmund Street, Unley.

Many more than what we have budgeted for have taken up this opportunity. The uptake has been inspiring. I am looking to make sure this initiative continues.

Should I be re-elected, I can do this by providing local leadership and working for you and with you for a better street amenity. Would you rather green verges rather than ugly dolomite.

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

Providing Local Leadership: Page Park Dog Park

Linked to many other parks and reserves last year an effort to adjust the hours for dogs off leads in the Page Park Dog Park failed.

 

Page Park Dogs

Page Park Dogs

Many parks and reserves in and around Clarence Park cater for children. Goodwood Oval backs up the two dedicated playgrounds at Princess Margaret and Dora Guild Playgrounds. As a result Page Park Reserve has become by default, Page Park Dog Park.

 

Because of this dog owners using Page Park requested we consider extending the hours when dogs could be off leash during the winter months.

Council considered the request. In so doing we (Council) linked Page Park to many reserves throughout the City of Unley. Concerns that extending the hours would interfere with access to the same reserves by children prompted us to reject the proposition.

Anyone who uses or passes by Page Park would be well aware of the heavy usage by dog owners. We owe it to them to reconsider a Page Park Dog Park only (stand alone) with a new motion for extended hours.

I propose to reintroduce the concept of extended hours in the next term of Council. In so doing we will need to reconsider the times. We will need to look into how to avoid extended use interfering with the use of the tennis courts. We will also need to ensure people using the gym equipment are not inconvenienced.

Researched correctly Council will be in a much better position to make a more informed decision. At the same time we can improve the dog friendly infrastructure with things like dog fountains.

With your help I can by providing local leadership work for you to bring about a solution that works for all the users of this park.

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

Providing Local Leadership: Local Economic Prosperity

To achieve local economic prosperity there is much a Council can do. In my time the City of Unley has always been conscious of being alert to ways it can stimulate economic activity.

 

Economic DevelopmentWe have done this via a body called the Unley Business and Economic Development committee (UBED). I have been a member of this committee for most of my time on Council. As a member, I am proud of our commitment to our businesses.

This committee has evolved over time, from a committee whose membership was mostly representatives of the various street traders associations and a couple of Councillors. During the life of the current Council the membership grew to include some independents, people with business and economic background but not associated with the traders. The number of councillors also grew. I promoted both of these changes.

The committee was a reactive committee, responding to initiatives considered either by Council or Council’s administration. The independent members of the current committee did however look to bring their own initiatives in a proactive approach. I had been advocating for similar since I joined the committee.

If returned to Council I will look, in seeking increased local economic prosperity, to encourage this committee to evolve even further. I will seek for this committee to become a more proactive committee, with members representing all our businesses.

 

Unley Business & Economic StrategyOur business and economic strategy is due for review. As part of the review, we need to recognise that our local economic prosperity goes much further than just assisting our local street trader businesses.

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The majority of our businesses are not the shop front businesses of Goodwood, King William and Unley Roads. They are the mum and dad businesses and the start ups operating out of home.

In my opinion, these businesses have been ignored for too long. Ignored simply because we did not know who they were. We now know how we can identify them.

I will be promoting that the UBED committee be a committee only made up of independent members and councillors. A committee looking to promote ways of helping all our businesses. A committee charged with bringing recommendations to Council rather than and in addition to Council bringing ideas to them for their input.

I will be seeking that Council recognises the value of UBED input into a wider range of  issues than normal. In other words to utilise UBED to provide economic insight into a wider range of Council initiatives. Issues not necessarily recognised as contributing to our local economic prosperity.

To advance this, it is my intention to seek election by Council as the presiding member of this new community.

With your support I will get this opportunity.

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

Providing Local Leadership: Waste Not Want Not in a Throw Away Society

Do you remember when your Grandma used to say “Ducky, waste not want not”. Those who lived through the great depression learnt that great lesson to waste not want not.

 

Waste Not Want Not

Waste Not Want Not

We live today in an affluent society. A throwaway society and have had for 40 or more years. Before that time, during the war years and the great depression that separated them, we salvaged all we could as part of that waste not want not paradigm.

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Remember too the Dustin Hoffman movie “The Graduate” when the student Benjamin Braddock was mentored by the wise old man Mr. McGuire that “plastics are the future”. How accurate was that prediction that plastics would be the future.

With plastics has come a waste challenge however unlike anything that anyone would have imagined.

This is one of the biggest challenges facing modern communities. We all know the gravity of the problem. We all need to be part of the solution.

The lead in addressing waste must come from the State Government. Our current State Government will hopefully expand on the successes of past state governments, going back to the days of putting a deposit on drink containers.

Councils can provide local leadership.

They can lobby the State Government, particularly with the China ban on taking our yellow bin waste.

Councils can lead by example by reducing what we contribute to the proliferation of plastic waste. We can, as we have just decided, not provide plastics straws at events we run. Likewise we can investigate providing filtered water in all our facilities in lieu of bottled water, and other like strategies.

The Community can play a part too.

You can have a waste not want not paradigm by be being more discerning with how you dispose of your rubbish, on what goods you buy that may be a single use product. You can also participate in determining issues that your local leadership can pursue.

The other way you can help is by electing candidates that can provide the local leadership for the City of Unley to be, in turn, a leader in the local government industry when it comes to waste disposal.

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

Providing Local Leadership: Develop a Tree Policy that Works For All

The City of Unley needs a Tree Policy that works for all. One that balances all the needs of our Community. To achieve this I make this election pledge: to develop a tree policy that works for all.

I pledge to fight for an improved tree policy, one that recognises all needs. A tree policy that works for all.

 

Tree Policy that works for allWith a loss of 23% of tree canopy in recent times there has been a cry from many in our community to introduce measures that protect against further loss. Equally there have been many in our community incensed with trees they view as dangerous which are not removed.

We must find a balance between the two. To have a tree policy that works for all, we must address all of the following (not just one): A policy that:

  1. Retains and/or improves the tree canopy cover in the City of Unley
  2. Provides shade in our streets
  3. That does not inhibit accessibility for all
  4. Avoids danger to Life and property

Canopy Cover

Two major contributors to the loss of canopy cover are the loss of trees on private property, through redevelopment. This is through the conversion of single houses into 2, 3 or even 4 in its place. It comes also from home improvements.

We need to find ways to ensure we have a responsible tree cover notwithstanding our communities desires for accommodation.

Shade

Shade is essential as our citizens walk or cycle in our public spaces. We can do this. My own observations within the Clarence Park Ward is we still have room for more street and park plantings. I will advocate for this.

Accessibility

At the same time we need to be conscious that we all need to be able to move around our streets. That is able people, mothers and kids (including in prams), aged persons and those of us with disabilities.

We need therefore to be discerning about where we plant trees.

Danger to Life and Property

As much as we have a need to encourage increased tree cover we need to look at ensuring the safety of our community. Safety of both person and property.

✓ We need a tree policy that recognises trip and slipping hazards on our footpaths.

✓ We need a tree policy that recognises the dangers a tree may present with dropping limbs/branches onto houses, onto people (kids in particular).

We need to recognise the nuisance value of trees that may contribute to leaking in houses due to gutter blockages etc.

In summary

Only by addressing all these competing interests can we expect to develop a tree policy that works for all.

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

Providing Local Leadership: Ensuring Financial Responsibility.

Ensuring financial responsibility is one of the major obligations of an elected member of Council. Without financial responsibility there is no limit to what a Council could charge its ratepayers for the services they provide.

 

Ensuring Financial ResponsibilityCouncils have an obligation to provide services to their community. Many of these are mandated by the Local Government Act. Many are the result of Council responding to community needs over time.

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They have however a responsibility too, to keep expenditure on these services to a level our community can afford.

Whatever the impetus behind the provision of a service they do come at a cost. Every time Councillors make a decision at a Council meeting it invariably means the commitment of dollars ($). Quite frequently it also means adding to the long-term cost of running the Council.

Initiatives like changing footpaths from bitumen paved to paved with concrete pavers not only come at a one time cost. They also add to the long term budget. Such an exercise adds to the budget for (in this case) in excess of 20 years just to make it happen.

It adds permanently to the maintenance budget as well. Maintaining concrete/brick pavers come at a cost well in excess of bitumen. Why?

Pavers last longer than bitumen. They are not flexible however and easily create trip hazards we would not see with bitumen. A decision by Council decades ago has impacted on all of us. The cost to you and I of this decision is significant.

The current council has been very conscious of this impact.

We have been very discerning about the decisions we make as a result. Those members who continue (I hope I am one) will take this same responsibility going forward.

We have in my opinion kept rate rises to an absolute minimum. As I have blogged before, we have been imposing a rate cap on ourselves for the last 6 years or so. We have delayed therefore projects and not included initiatives requested by our community because of it.

It is my intention to continue providing local leadership by ensuring financial responsibility with my contribution in all the decisions we make.

That said, we also do not need any external oversight, other than from you.

Authorised & printed by Don Palmer. 19 Kelvin Avenue, Clarence Park.

Providing Local Leadership: Protecting Heritage and character areas

Protecting heritage and character areas is something the City of Unley has fought hard for. This was our first goal in working with the Government when they first started revising the Development Act.

 

Renewing Our Heritage Planning

Protecting heritage and character areas was our first focus when the previous State Government introduced their wish to change the planning system. In return we guaranteed we could provide the numbers of additional housing to meet their 30 year plan.

Afterwards, the then Minister challenged the concept of character housing. The current Government appears to have a similar view to him.

They appear to have a view that demolition of local heritage buildings be by a simple merit based consideration. Considerations not much different to standard housing. Their focus right now is not only on local heritage but on character housing zones.

It appears the Government is looking to water down the provisions of protecting local heritage and character zones. They are looking to make demolition easier. They see the answer being the use of generic rules. Rules that in my opinion may work in one area but not reasonably in another, such as Unley.

 

The current Council has continued to lobby for protections seen as important by Unley’s community. The new Council will need to continue the fight.

The new council will need briefing as soon as is practicable. Immediately after they are commissioned in order that we can continue the fight is preferable. This whole planning overhaul is moving in a way that limits our ability to respond on behalf of our community.

The new council, in this background, needs to be provided an opportunity to understand the history, the process and the schedule going forward so as to contribute appropriately. Accordingly, I have already prompted our Management to engage the new Council immediately they are commissioned.

With the aim of protecting heritage and character areas, if re-elected, I will  continue in providing local leadership to guide the new Council through the lobbying yet to do.

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

Providing Local Leadership: Working For You, advocating for and representing you.

One of the greatest pleasures I experience as a Councillor is when I am working for you directly. When I am advocating for and representing you with the bureaucracy.

 

A councillor has two roles. One of these according the Local Government Act is.

as a person elected to the council—to represent the interests of residents and

ratepayers, to provide community leadership and guidance, and to facilitate

communication between the community and the council.

Advocating for & representing youSo, when I am not in the chamber participating in the deliberations of Council, I am working for you to address concerns you may have with council. I am helping you to navigate through the bureaucracy. Advocating for and representing you.

I love this part of the job. As much as I enjoy the responsibility of making decisions on your behalf, helping you is the most rewarding.

The bureaucracy can be an intimidating, sometimes remote beast that can be challenging at the best of times. My experience on Council, indeed my relationships with the staff, allow me to mentor and guide you when it seems like we don’t care.

Sometimes my assistance will simply be guiding you in how to communicate to Council and its staff. Often it will be to represent you and advocate for you.

Many of you have asked for my assistance in communicating with Council. Working for you and with you has resulted in numerous successes. While not successful on all occasions, I am proud that I have won many a concession for and on your behalf.

That said, as many of you know I have a passion for improving the communication between you and council. I will be blogging shortly on my mission to ensure training of our staff in communication skills.

If I achieve this you should not need my intervention as much. Gee. I might do myself out of a job. Until then and beyond I will continue to be advocating for and representing you.

 

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

 

 

Waste collection- Fortnightly or Weekly

It seems every year the fortnightly or weekly bin debate recurs. This has been the storey dominating the media cycle today. So frequently what we continue to hear is it is all about cost saving.

Council waste binsI have entered this debate frequently in the past. Each time I have advocated that the question should not be about reducing the blue bin but about increasing the frequency of the green bin collection.

Our food stuff, the smelly stuff, the stuff that attracts ants should go in the green bin. We should therefore be talking about this bin being collected weekly. Conversely the blue bin, which goes to landfill, should be fortnightly.

In other words this should not be a debate focused on fortnightly or weekly. It should be about green verses blue.

An opinion incidentally I expressed today to Channel 9 when interviewed by chance in my own street.

We believe however and are being told the blue bin contains the smelly, ant attracting rubbish. This means that we as a society are not interested in getting biodegradable rubbish away from landfill.

It’s important to note, in spite of what you may be hearing, is that the LGA does not yet have an endorsed position on waste collection frequency. Until its member councils are consulted, the LGA cannot hold a position. This has not yet happened. All it is doing is trying to start the conversation.

The State Government must take the lead as the frequency of collections is set in their legislation. Any position that the LGA (on behalf of councils) might take, they (we) can only lobby the State Government to consider changing the collection.

Based on comments however made by both the Government and the Opposition today, it appears unlikely that there is support in Parliament for changes to the current system. This means they are not interested in taking the lead in better waste disposal.

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