Several agenda items set down for next Tuesday deserve comment. We will dissect the secret Amendment C110 once it is made public and the schedules are released. It’s worth repeating that this entire episode was devised and implemented without any community input and without any notification whatsoever. So much for claims of transparency and accountability from all concerned.

Records of Assembly

  • Two council meetings on we have yet to see the response to Delahunty’s request for a report on Notice of Motion. However, there is one mention of ‘meeting procedures’ in the records of assembly so we can only wonder whether this is another instance of requests for reports NOT being tabled in an ordinary council meeting and instead going behind closed doors. An old Newtonian trick!
  • Councillors code of conduct – what further draconian measures will be attempted or will there be some positive changes?
  • Cr Delahunty – a response she has received from the Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO) in relation to matters raised concerning the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust. May also need to consider referring the matters to the Ombudsman Victoria.
  • Cr Hyams – advised councillors in general terms about the deliberations of the Caulfield Racecourse Rserve Trust including on(sic) the progress of the leases.
  • Cr Sounness – Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust – lack of accessibility to the minutes of the Trust.

Comment: what a ludicrous situation! 3 councillor trustees who owe their first allegiance we’ve been told to the Racecourse group, yet sitting, listening and undoubtedly discussing how the Trust is a secret organisation not acting in accordance with governance guidelines. This is definitely Monty Python territory!

PUBLISHING OF SUBMISSIONS

We note again the lack of consistency by this council in making available public submissions that do not come under Section 223 of the Local Government Act (ie submissions on budget, council plan, local law, etc). The most important public responses are NOT MADE PUBLIC and incorporated into council minutes. Residents did not see the full submissions to the Planning Scheme Review of 2010 – although this is now the basis for the argument that there was extensive consultation and council is following the community viewpoint. What is made public are responses to issues that are far less controversial such as Toilet Strategy and now the Environmental Sustainability Strategy.

The extent of consultation is another inconsistency and a means of limiting public involvement – as well as achieving the desired and preset outcomes. The controversial Caulfield Park conservatory matter (which thus far has cost over $17,000) only managed to achieve the doctored ‘survey’ in both hard copy and on the Bang The Table online version. Others (less controversial and likely to draw only a minority of comments) have included a methodology that is far more expansive.

QUARTERLY REPORTING

  • No mention of C110
  • Statistics on DPC versus Council Resolution on planning applications are meaningless since the chart only reports on VCAT appeals. Further, there is no information provided on the decisions and the nature of the application, nor its location. Nor are residents any wiser as to why 37 were decided by the DPC and only 1 went to full council. The criteria, as always, is nebulous, vague, and lacks transparency and accountability.
  • Action plan related to the Council Plan continually fails to respond to the original measures indicated in the Community/Council Plan. For example: the original resolution stated that council was to provide numbers for dwellings in Housing Diversity/Minimal Change. This now becomes a meaningless percentage. Of greater import is the following:

Objective: Provide a fair, transparent and inclusive town planning decision making process.

Measure: Reduce the number of applications being referred to DPC for a decision by trialling a mediation process and report the results to Council. Provide an information video which explains the DPC role and purpose for the benefit of residents involved.

Progress June 2013: DPC Video has been finalised and is being shown to participants prior to meetings. 14 successful mediation meetings held and THUS NOT NEEDING A DPC OR COUNCIL DECISION BY RESOLUTION

Comment: How a video can achieve ‘transparency’ in all of town planning when it focuses on ‘mediation’ is mind boggling. The statistical validity of 14 ‘mediations’ also leaves us scratching our heads. Note – we’re not told how many were ‘unsuccessfully mediated’!

Our favourite mangling is:

Objective: Investigate ways of making proceedings for Council meetings easier to follow including the use of audio-visual technology.

Measure: Investigation completed

Progress: – Completed

 Will this ‘investigation’ ever see the light of public scrutiny? We seriously doubt it!

 

ACTION PLAN – ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

We highlight some of the officers’ responses to resident submissions:

Instead of introducing Environmental Sustainability policies into its planning scheme, council’s response was to produce a glossy booklet. When asked how effective such a booklet has been, this is the response: Council reviews publications on a regular basis. There are no plans to monitor whether recommendations are taken up because of the resource intensive nature of this.

In other words, let’s waste money producing something and then not worry about whether that money has been well spent since we don’t have the foggiest as to whether it’s serving its purpose!

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