What is the future of Local Heritage in SA?

The Government is asking us (everyone) to contribute to determining what is the future of Local Heritage in SA.

 

I attended, along with Deputy Mayor Michael Rabbitt and members of our management, a Seminar last Wednesday hosted by the Lord Mayor and the City of Adelaide. The topic essentially was what is the future of local heritage in SA.

John-Rau-3883-850x455The Planning Minister John Rau spoke at the Seminar. A number of invited guests who each extolled the economic benefit of Local Heritage also spoke.

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The Minister went to great pains to indicate that he is yet to take a position. He pushed that he was simply starting the conversation. The audience took a different view. They saw the Minister trying to pull on over on them. He did not take kindly as I have seen him do before in public to the assertions that he was hiding the detail from us.

I support the audience’s view, and that of the following speakers, that the Minister is struggling with a basic concept of what is the difference between heritage and character.

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The Minister appears not to recognise the value of “Heritage Character”.

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He sees heritage as pertaining to a building and character to a collection of buildings. He also, it appears, sees Local Heritage as restricting employment opportunities. Preservation is in the way of development opportunities and the employment that comes with that.

This is not how those with whom he found himself in conflict see it. They see areas/precincts/streets, not just buildings, as having historic value. Some areas, in other words, require protection as much as some buildings.

Each of the speakers spoke in contrast on his economic argument. They argued that Heritage preservation is a positive when looking at local employment. Their addresses (and the ministers) will be available soon on the City of Adelaide website.

I too see the need to protect areas as opposed to simply buildings. The City of Unley does also. The City of Unley, as much as any other municipality within the greater metropolitan area, is indeed testimony to this.

Tonight Council will be considering our response and I will report on this for you.

I now ask you. What is the Future of Local Heritage in SA in your opinion? Do you agree with the Minister or do you see his agenda as potentially destroying local heritage for the sake of redevelopment opportunities?

 

Unley Central Precinct DPA is ready for final consultation

After nearly two years of deliberations, the Unley Central Precinct DPA is ready for final consultation. This the final chapter in shaping the future potential of the Unley Central Precinct.

The DPA encompasses the recommendations of the Development Strategy & Policy Committee. I am proud to have chaired this committee.

The criteria adopted is the result of all previous consultation with our community.  It includes what we learnt earlier this year from the successful Design Lab . We do not need to go to the extent many (including the government ) thought was needed. We believe the DPA will be approved by the Minister. It should achieve his government’s goals. We trust it will be acceptable to our community knowing we have to achieve the governments population forecasts.

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There is no limit currently to the height of buildings in this precinct. Building heights in the precinct will now be limited. They are to be kept within our previously successful high street 30 degree envelope strategy. Keeping inside this envelope will provide the best interface with surrounding residential areas we could expect to achieve.

Significantly the area will now become a mixed use zone. Development will no longer be limited to retail or community opportunities. Opportunity for residential development in the upper floors of the buildings will now be possible.

Walking zones through the precinct have been created. This will provide for safer access than exists now, in both the north-south and the east-west directions.

Traffic flow management is not included as it is not a planning consideration under the Act. This will be addressed separately by council after the DPA is approved by the Minister.

The Unley Central Precinct DPA has commenced.

You have until November 18 this year to contribute. Another chance to input into the final draft before it is presented for the last time to DPTI and the Minister. Please take the opportunity. There is still room for fine tuning. Your input may prove pivotal to the best outcome.

 

Councils – the lean machine as promoted by the LGA

Councils – the lean machine: that is the catch phrase for a new publicity program being put out by the Local Government Association (LGA).

In the early days of this blog site I started a similar series albeit, with apologies, not completed. With the recent threat by the opposition to cap Council rates when in Government. With the State Government imposing extra exorbitant taxes through us. With Marion seeking to withdraw from the Association.

Now we see the LGA seeing the need to remind us all what Councils do provide the tax payers of this country.

Below is a media release last week by the LGA titled Councils – the lean machine I trust you will find informative. You may have experienced already the start of this campaign.

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The LGA will launch a new campaign  highlighting the diverse range of services

and infrastructure councils provide to their communities, while taking less than 4% of

Australia’s total tax.

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LGA CEO Matt Pinnegar said with households about to receive their rates notices for

2016/17, it was important for ratepayers to know what they are getting for their money.

“Councils in South Australia manage around $22 billion worth of infrastructure, while

providing hundreds of services and facilities in their communities,” Mr Pinnegar said.

“These can include libraries, community centres, immunisation clinics, men’s sheds, footy

ovals, community events, aged care services, swimming pools and much more.

“The days of the three R’s – roads, rates and rubbish – are long gone. The State

Government is giving us more to do, and our communities are telling us they want and

expect more, so councils are stepping in to meet these needs.”

Other council facilities and services can include caravan parks, cemeteries, coastal care,

community buses, development and planning services, bushfire prevention, dog and cat

management, disability services, economic development, place making, environmental

programs, footpath maintenance, tourism information, museums, roads, netball and tennis

courts, playgrounds, recycling facilities, skate parks, street lighting, and storm water drains.

Mr Pinnegar said that goal of the campaign was to communicate that councils provide these

services while taking less than 4% of the nation’s tax.

“80% of all tax paid in Australia goes to the Federal Government, and 16% of it goes to the

states,” Mr Pinnegar said.

“We understand there’s some confusion around the funding received by councils –

especially with more and more State Government taxes being included in council rates.

“The NRM Levy is an obvious example, and is clearly listed on rates notices, but there are

others, such as the rapidly escalating Solid Waste Levy, Rubble Royalties, and Community

Housing rebates, which are all paid by councils and ultimately their ratepayers.

“What people may not realise is that in South Australia, councils receive the lowest funding

per capita of anywhere in Australia, the least amount of grants from their State Government,

and an unfair share of local road funding from the Federal Government.

“We firmly believe local government is a lean machine – and the most efficient sector of

government in Australia – given all we are able to deliver for our communities with less than

4% of national taxation.”

Hoping this helps all understand the role of Councils – the lean machine.

Unley Central draft DPA considered by DSP committee

The Unley Central Draft DPA was considered last night by the Committee I chair. We considered a very in depth report from our administration and URPS, the consultants.

Unley Central DPA draftAccompanying the report was the Unley Central draft DPA. Both documents required significant reading. In my case I devoted the weekend to so doing. It is my belief the report has captured well the concerns and opinions of the public involvement to date whilst addressing the Minister’s requirements.

The report and the draft DPA can be found as attachments to the meeting agenda. This can be found here on our web site.

With strong input from independent and elected members alike the committee was quite supportive of the work that has been done. They did make a number of minor observations.

They highlighted appreciation in particular for the work done to ensure a gradual transition from existing neighbouring residential zones. The detailed work done to arrive at appropriate set backs and envelopes was appreciated.

Concerns were almost unanimously expressed regarding infrastructure needs and traffic flow. Infrastructure improvements is of course a council responsibility. A study is under way as we speak investigating this. It does not impact directly on the Unley Central draft DPA however as the DPA is purely planning.

Traffic flow was also considered in the report. It included an analysis by another consultant, Infraplan. They have made a number of observations. Once again this will be the province of council and have no direct bearing on the Unley Central draft DPA. Our independent members were supportive of the analysis by Infraplan. Elected members had concerns over such things as no right turns along Unley Road.

Council still has much work to do in these areas. The committee was keen to recommend Council pursue this. They did this by including an amendment inspired by myself to the motion (item 4 below) which was passed unanimously. The motion is below:

1.             The report be received.
 
2.            The URPS Unley Central Precinct DPA Summary of Design Lab stakeholder consultation documentation be noted.
 
3.            The draft Unley Central DPA (and the summary of proposed minor amendments) be noted.
 
4.            It be noted the traffic investigations supporting the current DPA proposals indicate there are no significant implications in the short-term. The issues identified for the longer-term should be considered via  Council’s broader strategic planning processes.
 
5.            A finalised draft Unley Central DPA (addressing the minor amendments) be prepared and presented for endorsement as suitable for public consultation to Council at its meeting on the 22 August 2016.

Now — Over to Council to endorse the Unley Central draft DPA with changes to come back to council in August. We are one step closer to public notification. I suggest this is looking like October/November. Over to council also to separately continue to pursue answers to infrastructure needs and traffic flow challenges.

Micro-chipping of dogs & cats compulsory

On 6 July 2016 amendments to the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 were passed in Parliament making, amongst other things, Micro-chipping of dogs & cats compulsory.

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The main changes to the Act include:
 
·         Micro-chipping – introducing the requirement for all dogs and cats over a certain age to be micro-chipped from a future date.
·         De-sexing – introducing the requirement for all new generations of dogs and cats over a certain age to be de-sexed from a future date.
·         Breeders – introducing a requirement for anyone who breeds dogs and cats for sale to register as a breeder with the Dog and Cat Management Board.
·         Council Powers – councils to have greater powers to administer and enforce the Act.
·         Assistance Dogs – changes to who can accredit animals and recognition of dogs in training.
 
Before the amendments become operational the regulations containing the details of the provisions will be developed and undergo public consultation later this year. The regulations are the teeth of any Act of Parliament. They prescribe how the Act is to be administered.
Developing the Regulations will take some time. It is likely they will not be implemented until late 2017 or even 2018. As part of this public consultation I understand will be undertaken later this year.
With Councils having to administer and enforce the Act Unley staff will be keeping abreast of the formulating of the Regulations and will keep Council informed. As I learn more I will look to this blog page or my Facebook Page to keep you informed.

Footpath Maintenance-part of Rates, Roads, Rubbish

Footpath maintenance is at the core of Council business. Part of the ol’ rates, roads & rubbish mantra of what Councils are there for, aren’t they.

FootpathCouncil is due to receive a report from their depot management proposing a new approach to footpath maintenance. I expect we will receive the report at our August meeting.

Their initial thoughts were work shopped with elected members last Monday night. I felt at our briefing that we had different agendas, councillors and staff.

The focus by staff from the depot was in the life span of a footpath. Their focus was on the evenness or the unevenness of the footpath. In assessing the future of our footpath maintenance you may remember those “moon buggies” driving down your street a year or so ago.

Elected members have been given a short list of streets that staff would like us to compare as being an acceptable standard. Footpaths in streets that have  a greater level of unevenness will qualify for upgrade.

Of more concern I believe to you, our rate payer, and our elected members including myself are the ever present trip hazards that we see now in our paved footpaths. Trip hazards are a more important area of attention in our footpath maintenance regime. While we can be proactive with the unevenness in our footpaths, trip hazards by their very nature can only be treated reactivity.

We currently budget for $ 800 k of proactive maintenance and $ 500 k of reactive maintenance. Our depot management believe we can save $ 200 k from the proactive budget by adjusting our (their) interpretation of what unevenness is acceptable.

The depot, possibly due I think to budget constraints, have looked at 20 mm being an acceptable trip hazard. I personally think 10 mm is excessive and dangerous. Rather than simply saving therefore $ 200 k from our overall budget I believe we (if elected members concur with the new staff unevenness assessment) should divert funds from the proactive evenness to the reactive trip hazard footpath maintenance.

 

Public outdoor dining areas in South Australia must now be smoke-free

As you are probably already aware, public outdoor dining areas in South Australia must now be smoke-free under section 52 of the Tobacco Products Regulation Act 1997.

No_smoking_symbol.svgYou have probably seen the advertising over the last few months. A public media campaign was undertaken from May 2016, including radio, online, and press.

Councils have been legislated the role of enforcing the regulations. With a plethora of outdoor dining areas in the City of Unley you can rest assured Council will be policing this with fervour.

We want to make sure your dining experience will indeed be smoke free.

Our City of Unley Environmental Health Team have been promoting to food premises over the past few months to ensure they are ready by the due date of July 1. SA Health have undertaken two formal mail-outs to all food businesses (using our database). Environmental Health Officers have been promoting the change during all food inspections (including handing out an information pamphlet developed by SA Health).

The last two weeks has been a period of grace as we all learn the new rules. Starting from next week the team will undertake focused enforcement of smoking in outdoor dining areas in our main streets.

This will involve the General Inspectors and the Environmental Health Officers walking down the main streets once a week over 3 weeks. If outdoor diners are found smoking, expiations of $160 will be issued to businesses. After this focused enforcement period the Environmental Health Officers will continue to monitor and also expiate where appropriate as they go about their routine inspections. The team will undertake focused enforcement every 6 to 8 months or earlier if there are issues/complaints reported.

Before the legislation Council had a policy of providing as discount on the fees associated with a business having outdoor dining on Council land. From memory not too many businesses took up the offer. Under the legislation there will be no need to offer this as they simply now must comply.

You should feel quite comfortable now in dining anywhere in Unley. You can feel assured, with Council policing it, that food businesses are taking positive action to avoid fines and therefore creating smoke free dining experiences.

State Government 2016-17 budget in black courtesy of Local Gov.

It has been just short of a week since the State Government 2016-17 budget was handed down. This was amid wide acclaim for bringing in a surplus that has previously escaped them. Thanks that is to councils and rate payers.

While the Treasurer trumps his State Government 2016-17 budget surplus of some $ 250 million many in the community are bemoaning council rate increases.

The facts are the State is doing well but mainly on the back of imposts and charges being collected via property taxes. Much of this is collected by Council.

Yes! As the Opposition promote rate capping because Councils can’t be trusted the state government, although ruling out a land tax, are using council rates as a stealth alternative.

Unprecedented increases in the Solid Waste Levy will see around $35 million per annum paid by councils by 2019/2020. This is despite the state government refusing to release $90 million of previously collected Waste Levy funding. More than a third of this was contributed by councils and rate payers. Councils have contributed $110 million to the Waste Levy over the past ten years and will contribute another $122 million to state government coffers over the next 4 years.

The state government is taking more and more property taxation – local government’s traditional and only tax base. The attached graph illustrates that the State is now raising 56% of property taxes to local government’s 44%. As I have noted in recent blog posts on rate capping less than 4% of tax nationally is collected by Councils. Adding to this state and federal budget decisions are squeezing council budgets from every direction and forcing ratepayers to pay more in rates.

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State Government 2016-17 budget

Curiously the rebate offered by the Government last year in lieu of the rebate deducted from council rates previously, is offered to help you (if you qualify) with a subsidy to help pay such things as your water and other utility rates, but NOT council.