Providing Local Leadership: New Council, new faces, new ideas, needs stability and local leadership

The make-up of the new Unley Council is going to be totally different to recent councils. It will be just that, a new Council. It will have new faces and new ideas. We will see greater representation from both a gender and age perspective.

 

Stability

Change is great. Change should be welcomed. Significant change however, which we will be experiencing, needs stability and local leadership.

As I have indicated a few times recently I expect there to be at least 5 females on the new council.

Indeed we have two already, having been elected unopposed. Monica Broniecki will be co-councillor with Cr Michael Rabbit in the Unley Park ward. Jordan Dodd will be co-councillor with Cr Peter Hughes in the Fullarton ward.

Three of our wards have seven candidates each. Five of the seven in both Goodwood and Unley wards are female. One of the seven in Parkside are female. Clarence Park ward has 4 candidates. Two male, one female and one transgender female.

Looking at candidates attending recent Council meetings I would assess the majority of the candidates to be much younger than the current council. It is not unreasonable therefore to expect the next council to be a much younger council.

The current council had but one member (at age 30’ish) under the age of 50. It had three over the age of 80’ish. The median age of the next council is quite likely to be in the region of 50, with a handful over this age and a handful under this age.

The bottom line is the new council is going to be much different than the outgoing council. Not only will there be at least 5 changes, the changes will create a far greater degree of diversity.

With such change happening automatically, I believe it is important that we do not lose the corporate knowledge and the experience of the previous council. To that end it is desirable to re-elect members such as myself to ensure some stability and local leadership in the new council.

 

StabilityIt is not that long ago that I joined council. I remember my introduction into Council was the biggest learning curve I have experienced in my life. It took some time to acclimatise into the Council structure and ethos.

The new members of the next council will surely find similarly. They will need time to collectively and individually acclimatise to the structure and ethos of Council. While they are, those with knowledge and experience will be needed to guide the newbies through the transition phase.

An exciting prospect to be sure.

A prospect I relish as we transition to a new generation. Hopefully you will place on me the responsibility of providing stability and local leadership to the new brigade.

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

Providing Local Leadership: Time to consider an Unley Cat By-Law

The time I believe is right to consider an Unley Cat By-Law. I am hearing this from rate payers as I walk the streets of the Clarence Park Ward.

 

Cat ByLawI am hearing this from rate payers who have problems with stray cats. Likewise I am hearing from rate payers who are responsible cat lovers. I am hearing it also from ratepayers who are concerned about native wildlife.

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Earlier this year I represented and advocated for a solution over a cat dispute between neighbours within the Ward. I helped both the cat owner and the aggrieved neighbour negotiate with council for a solution.

The end result was, I believe, a win-win for both.

The City of Unley does not have a cat by-law. It is true we have not had many complaints about nuisance cats. We have had enough however for us to consider an Unley Cat By-Law.

The previous Government recently made changes to South Australia’s laws in dog and cat management. Changes that are being phased in over the next 12 months. These changes include new requirements for micro-chipping, de-sexing and breeder registration.

Beyond this, under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995, local councils can introduce By-laws for the management of cats that go beyond this legislative mandate.

Such by-laws may include—

  • limiting the number of cats that may be kept on any premises;
  • fixing periods during which cats must be effectively confined to premises occupied by a person who is responsible for the control of the cat.

Two simple but effective measures that our whole community would surely support. We don’t need I would suggest to go any further than this.

I commit to providing local leadership by encouraging council to consider an Unley Cat By-Law. A simple cat By-Law that everyone can agree to.

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

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

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

Heritage Preservation at risk under Government’s State Planning Policies

The current Government is intent on rolling out the planning reforms of the previous Government. Communities need to be aware of the policies and procedures being proposed. They need also to know of a lack of heritage preservation therein.

Renewing Our Heritage Planning

 

Your council, as we have with all the stages thus far, is responding to the current step in the process. This process is establishing a raft of draft State Planning Policies. Following on from my earlier blog post today I have been reviewing the City of Unley’s response to the draft.

I am concerned that the Government, like their predecessors, have little regard for local nuances. There appears to be disappointing lack of regard, importance and comprehensive appreciation for heritage by the State. This notwithstanding heritage preservation is a long-standing and well supported priority by the community.

There appears to me a clear focus that they are looking for a universal, one size fits all strategy.

For instance, the scope of the policies in respect of heritage preservation only refer to ‘use’ of places and indigenous heritage. As a minimum there is a need for policies that support way more than this including but limited to:

  • Confirmation from the State that they support for cultural heritage.
  • Recognition of the importance of conserving built heritage.
  • Recognition of both state and local built heritage ‘places’ and ‘areas’ of value, ie Historic Conservation Zones and Contributory Items.

We (you and I) need to fight for better than this.  A greater weight than appears to be being considered needs to be given to heritage preservation. Good planning policy should not ignore heritage.

I am prepared to provide local leadership. A fight against what appears to be an illogical paradigm that preserving our heritage, whether cultural or built form is contrary to sensitive and diverse future development.

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

 

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