Lachlan Clyne finally resigning as Mayor of the City of Unley

It’s Official. Lachlan Clyne is finally resigning as Mayor of the City of Unley, effective at the end of this month.

 

As most of us are aware, he is the Liberal Candidate for the seat of Badcoe in the upcoming State Election. In resigning as Mayor he can now focus all his energies on getting elected.

This has been the worst kept secret in Unley for some time now. Many amongst us believed he had already resigned. This is not the case. He was only on leave between September and November. During this time, I deputised (as Deputy Mayor) for him at Council meetings. We shared civic duties.

He returned to his Mayoral duties in December chairing the December meeting. He will chair the upcoming January meeting. Again, we shared the civic duties.

I would like, on behalf of our Community, to thank Lachlan for his service to The City of Unley. We wish you well, in whatever the future holds for you.

This Council can be proud of what it has achieved during Lachlan’s time as Mayor.

Following on from the establishment of the previous Council’s 2033 Community Plan we painstakingly master planned the various components of the plan. We have, and certainly in the more recent of times, implemented many of the plan’s initiatives.

He will be missed by many in the community of Unley.

As regular readers of this blog would know, I announced in my blog on November 27 that I have put my hand up to become our Acting Mayor in his absence.

I do so to avoid confusion for the many in our community who believed that Lachlan had already resigned as Mayor and I had taken over. I believe it is in everyone’s best interest that we present a picture of continuity and stability of community leadership.

People Power Does Work.

Don’t bother responding to this public consultation. You are wasting your time. They don’t listen to you. Thought that? Heard that?

I am here to tell you that People Power Does Work!

 

The Planning Minister recently advised that 4 of the “specific sites” recently proposed for zoning changes were not included in the approved development plan amendment. He cited significant community opposition as one of the motivators behind his decision.

He also agreed with the reasons given for opposition to those sites expressed by the local community.

The community says no

People power does work.

One of the sites was at Unley Road Malvern. Not many in the community were aware of the proposed changes. Communication by the Government was poor and the reason for this. One of the local elected members for Council, Cr Michael Rabbitt took it upon himself to alert the local community.

Jennie and I did this during DPA 2 a few years back. We made sure that everyone that would be affected by the proposed changes knew that the changes were proposed. We also encouraged, as did Michael this time, the community to put their views forward.

Speaking with Malvern residents yesterday at a celebratory street party I heard how those who spoke out were told by some they were wasting their time. They were told they were that no-one ever listens, that they won’t change the Government’s mind.

Wrong. They were listened to. People power does work. Not only were the listened to, they had the ultimate influence over the minister’s final decision. This, with 3 others  was excluded.

The same occurred with three other sites in other Council areas.

It also occurred with DPA 2 I mentioned above. It occurred with the recent Unley Central DPA where both the Council and the Minister took notice.

People power does work.

Let me finish with a question for you. What is the worst thing that could happen if you don’t speak up?

Should we repeal the code of conduct for council members.

The code of conduct for council members is not working many believe. Scrap it some say. We should repeal the code of conduct for council members.

I agree we do need to remove the opportunity for frivolous or vexatious claims to divert us from more important issues. We also need to strengthen the Code to deal with the more serious offending. My final statement in my last blog was the system needs an overhaul.

There is evidence that members have used the Code to bully their colleagues. There is also evidence of persons outside of Council using the Code to make false and misleading claims.

Investigating claims requires significant resources and funding. Resources that are better put to building our community in the case of such claims.

The Premier recently announced an intention to repeal the code of conduct for council members, possibly because of this.

There is another side to this argument. The actions of a handful of elected members are so grave there remains a need for a system to deal with it.

So, while there is angst concerning the frivolous, the Local Government Association (LGA) is advocating for tougher measures in the Act. In other words, they are advocating for the existing code to be improved and strengthened.

A stronger code of conduct with increased penalties for breaches will provide councils with better tools to address serious – albeit isolated – behavioural issues as they arise. The ability to bring to account those that bring our industry into disrepute. At the same time an opportunity for minor behavioural breaches not to be used to bring us into disrepute.

In this background the Premier has announced he is putting off his plans to repeal it. Presumably he is waiting on talks with the LGA.

We should repeal the code of conduct for council members.

In Government Liberals Demand Council Travel Transparency

The Liberals Demand Council Travel Transparency if they win Government in March.

Travel-Allowance

They will make it mandatory for all South Australian councils to publish travel expenses in their annual report to increase transparency and accountability. They will Demand Council travel transparency.

Seems their answer to the State’s woes rest with fixing Local Government.

You get no argument from me regarding transparency. I demand Council transparency too.

All Governments should be transparent in all they do. It is important that those who have the responsibility of spending rate payer (or taxpayer) funds be subject to public scrutiny.

My colleagues here in the City of Unley concur with the principle. Cr Bob Schnell and Cr Mike Hudson have both welcomed the move as can be seen on their blogs. My Co-councillor Jennie Boisvert has likewise responded. Bob & Jennie have questioned them however.

 

It sounds like we have no such obligation now. Wrong!

Section 79 of the Local Government Act 1999 already requires the Council’s CEO to keep a register of all allowances and expenses paid to their elected members. Section 7 of the Local Government (Members Allowances and Benefits) Regulations 2010 then goes on to say that this is required on a quarterly basis.

Unley’s own David Pisoni said a check of 19 metropolitan councils showed just one disclosed travel undertaken by elected members. I wonder which Council he is referring to.

He can’t be talking about the councils of 6 Mayors I talked to yesterday. We all do. This group of Mayors are of the belief the Liberals see fixing Local Government as their priority in Government, rather than the workings of State Parliament. Hmmmm!

This may be why we keep hearing that the public, in a background where they hate the government and see Mr X as looking to fix Parliament, see them as irrelevant.

Community participation in government community engagement programs do impact

The benefit of community participation in government community engagement programs can be seen behind the headlines in yesterday’s Advertiser “New Laws pave way for $200m in high-rise projects.

The report goes on to indicate that Adelaide is set to go sky high. The State Government has approved taller building height limits for eight hubs across the metropolitan area. Actually 8 specific sites would be a more accurate description. This means four sites in total were removed from the DPA, including one in Unley.

The community engagement on the Development Plan Amendment (DPA) covered twelve sites, 4 of which are in the City of Unley. The sites removed were all hotly contested by the relevant local community. That included our own site 7 at Unley Road Malvern.

 “I have not approved rezoning for the 4 sites where the community was strongly opposed to the rezoning, and where impacts on adjoining residents would be more difficult to manage,” Planning Minister John Rau said.

“The size and location of those sites meant that the interface with existing houses would be challenging.”

His observations of the impact of such development at Malvern are “spot on”.

Had it not been though for the community reaction of the local residents would likely not have been made. Truthfully, they are that obvious the sites should not have been considered in the first place.

 A victory therefore for people power. But only because they stood up and spoke. It is rare for the community to stand up at the DPA stage of the process. Rather the end of the process when an actual development is likely not at serious variance to the approved plan.

Cr Michael Rabbitt is to be congratulated for alerting the residents in this area. This is like Jennie and I did a couple of years back when DPA2 was on the books and with similar result.

It will be interesting to see how the local residents react when a development application is lodged at the other 8 sites, including the 3 in Unley.

It’s all go with the Goodwood Oval Grandstand with Council signing off.

It’s all go with the Goodwood Oval Grandstand with Council signing off on the State Government’s grant.

Council unanimously accepted the following motion on Monday night. It’s all go with the Goodwood Oval Grandstand as a result.

In my opinion this is great news for the western Unley community.

The Goodwood Oval Precinct is utilised well by the community. The Goodwood Saints Football Club and the Goodwood Roos Cricket Club are a big part of this. Both are leaders in their respective fields.

With the activity that exists, the facility deserves better than the current accommodation .

As acting presiding member in the absence of our Mayor, I was unable to move or contribute to the debate. It turned out that this was not needed. Your elected members were strong in their belief on the way forward.

For the Grandstand

The decision means that we can now move from the concept drawings we have now to detailed drawings. Council will work with the Department of Sport & Recreation and continue to work with the clubs to make to that end. Our community will be engaged as part of this process to.

The motion recommended by our administration was amended on the night to accept a 2-storey solution. Members were of a similar view to the clubs as to which model best suited, not only the clubs needs, but the community at large.

For Tennis Lighting and Millswood Croquet

While it’s all go with the Goodwood Oval Grandstand, the motion also endorses both of these projects.

The focus is to secure additional outside funding for both. This is needed as we have redirected the funding we allocated for these projects to the Grandstand to secure the State Government Grant.

To secure outside funding more work will be needed on the concept designs to ensure it is fit for purpose and affordable.

Putting my Hand up for Mayor in Council’s January meeting.

With the pending resignation of our Mayor Lachlan Clyne I am putting my Hand up to be Mayor leading up to 2018 November local government elections.

As I have blogged previously Lachlan Clyne, our Mayor, intends to resign in January. He is doing this in his pursuit of seeking the seat of Badcoe in the March State elections. The timing of the announcement is designed to avoid a costly bi-election.

Assuming he does resign, Council will appoint from within its ranks a replacement rather there be a bi-election. Section 54 (8) of the Local Government Act refers

If a casual vacancy occurs in the office of mayor—
(a) on or after 1 January of a year in which a periodic election is due to be held
(and before polling day for that periodic election); or
(b) within 7 months before polling day for a general election (other than a
periodic election) (the date of that polling day being known at that time),
a member chosen by the council may act in the office of mayor until the conclusion of the election.

I have confirmed to my colleagues in my written report to the November Council meeting that it is my intention to nominate at the January meeting.

I do so believing that Council needs continuity in the role of Mayor. Given my involvement in the last three months, my continuing in the role until the next election will provide I believe in the eyes of the public a stable governance for Council. For stability.

I have enjoyed taking on the responsibility for filling in for the Mayor over the last three months. Continuing in the role makes sense. Rather than someone else  starting from scratch for the ensuing the mere 7 months leading up to the caretaker mode and the election.

And I have the time, the energy and the enthusiasm to give to the role. So I am putting my hand up.

More than just a new Grandstand

The recent announcement in the fight for the seat of Badcoe of a $ 2.5 million State Government grant to Council is about more than just a new Grandstand. It is much more.

Locals are aware of the push by the candidates of both the major parties’ candidates for a new Grandstand at Goodwood Oval. From a Council perspective it is about much more than just a new Grandstand.

Tennis World (Goodwood Oval) Millswood

As evidenced by many posts on this blog site, Council has been working on a master plan for the Goodwood/Millswood Precinct for some time. Since that initial public consultation, we have had extensive consultations with the clubs.

Balancing the needs of clubs on both sides of the Seaford Rail Line has been a challenge. We recently determined the priorities from the many opportunities identified for the precinct.

Millswood Croquet Club

Before talking Goodwood Oval, we have identified a priority need to provide a new club room for the Millswood Croquet Club. Readers of this blog may remember me publically expressing previously the opinion that the current club room is a death trap. So, a new club room (some 245 m2 compared to the current 145 m2) is proposed.

Funding for the projects will now have to be re-sourced. We allocated $ 1.2 m for all works in the precinct. Allocating $ 1.0 m of this to the grandstand will leave a hole in the funding bucket.

Even for Goodwood Oval it is more than just a new Grandstand. Three projects have been identified for Goodwood Oval. Outside the Grandstand we also have identified the need to:

  • Upgrade the Tennis SA court lighting. This project is designed to prevent light spillage from the tennis courts to surrounding houses and the streets.
  • Provide a community area complete with access pathways in the north-western corner of the Oval surrounds. This should encourage more people to use this part of the precinct.

All the options, more than just a new grandstand, will be considered at our next Council meeting, tomorrow night.

 

Golden Gnomes are popping up around the City of Unley

Golden Gnomes are popping up around the City of Unley. They are being received with enthusiasm from residents who have landscaped their verges.

As part of Councils’s Greening Verges initiative to convert dolomite verges, Golden Gnomes are popping up around the City of Unley. A number of our residents have taken advantage of incentives we have provided to green their verges. We felt it was important to recognise some of those residents.
 
Students from the Concordia College Year 12 came to our assistance. Their community service volunteer program have assisted us to paint 30 small gnomes, develop thank you tags and select recipients.
The students, in teams of two, selected their favourite greened verge in each of our Wards. Five random streets were selected per ward and their favourite greening rewarded. Gnomes and thank you’s were provided by the students during the last week.
 
The thank you tags say the following:
“Congratulations you have been awarded a Golden Gnome!
Thank you for gardening your verge and helping make the City of Unley green and beautiful. This recognition project is a collaboration between the City of Unley and students at Concordia College. This Golden Gnome was decorated and delivered by Year 12 students from Concordia College and their involvement is one of the ways the students are serving the Unley community through their Pastoral Care Program.”
 
This is a small but fun project. It acknowledges a handful of residents that have been gardening and maintaining their verges prior to council incentives being offered. The students have enjoyed the project and learnt about the importance of plants in urban areas.

Emotions around regulated and significant trees to be investigated

In the absence of our Mayor, I attended today’s Local Government Association AGM. It was a good day for me, and I expect everyone in our community will be pleased with the result.

On behalf of Unley Council I was able to address a problem with our State’s Development Assessment procedures that create conflict between groups of people causing emotional stress. A chance to do something around opposing emotions around regulated and significant trees to be investigated

We put forward a motion on the use of independent experts for assessment of regulated trees. The aim of the motion was to provide more clarity and assurance around the assessment of regulated and significant trees under the Development Regulations.

It allows people to believe council is allowing the removal of trees that are healthy, and not posing a threat to person or property. At the same time others can see council as ignoring the safety of people (particularly children), in favour of keeping trees.

This comes from there being potentially two reports with conflicting expert observations.

The motion below was put forward by me on the day and seeks for the emotions around regulated and significant trees to be investigated with a view to avoiding conflict and disappointment. It had a 90.9% support from those councils present.

 

That the Annual General Meeting requests the LGA to: 

  1. investigate with councils and the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure the development of a Planning Circular which outlines the ‘special circumstances’ which should apply to request an expert or technical report relating to a tree; and 
  1. advocate for arborists involved in the assessment of Significant and Regulated Trees to be included in the Accredited Professionals scheme and Code of Practice to be established under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act.

We now await the investigations.