We are continually amazed by this Council’s inefficiency and disregard for all principles of good governance. Nothing makes this clearer than Item 9.15 – Significant Tree Register. We present this in full.

PURPOSE: To seek direction

BACKGROUND: Council regularly includes conditions in planning permits which require the retention of existing trees or the planting of new trees. In addition, the Council Plan, adopted in June 2013, states: Action 7m: Introduce Local Law which creates the framework for a Classified Tree Register”.

A similar action was in the 2012-13 action plan.

The Local Laws Advisory Committee has held a number of meetings on this issue and considered a range of approaches to regulating these matters. The issue has recently been considered at an Assembly of Councillors. The proposal did not attract majority support.

RECOMMENDATION: That Council provide direction.

COMMENT: It is nigh on a decade that the issue of a tree register has been lingering on and on with no outcome. Now we have the most absurd ANONYMOUS officer’s report that provides absolutely NO INFORMATION AND IN ITSELF POTENTIALLY REPRESENTS A BREACH OF BOTH THE Local Government Act and the Councillors’ Code of Conduct. It is clear that Lipshutz and his followers have been shafted on the issue. So how are these councillors meant to provide ‘direction’ or informed debate, when they are not permitted to disclose anything about discussions that occurred in assemblies? More to the point, if this is now coming up for some kind of council resolution, then the Act requires that the resolution be accompanied by reports or at least a summary of reports. Again, nothing is included.

Another agenda item that leaves egg on Lipshutz’s face is the Caulfield Park Conservatory debate. The majority of responses, even to this bogus survey and consultation, were opposed to the creation of a café and indicated that the conservatory should be maintained and restored. A good result. The pity is that ratepayers’ funds have been wasted (to the tune of over $17,000) on something that was decided by council years ago. Perhaps councillor Lipshutz could reimburse council and ratepayers for this profligacy?

Not so welcome is the report on the ‘design’ for Centenary Park and the amalgamation of the two car parks into one and the removal of the wooded area between the two carparks. Readers will remember that at council meeting it was stated that no decision would be made on this ‘amalgamation’ until the design was produced. Well the design is now in and of course the craze for bitumen and car parks and spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars is part of the design. It will be interesting to hear the take on this item and the ensuing resolution. Councillors have to decide whether car parks that already exist are to be ripped up, plus a well established nature area, so that more money may be needlessly wasted on new concrete and bitumen.

Another item of interest involves the Friends of Caulfield Park submission for a community grant in order to stage their concerts in the park. Whilst the recommendation does leave it open to councillors to decide whether to grant further funding to the group, the comments included in the Peter Jones report are quite remarkable. We quote:

While the program to be provided is likely to be worthwhile to the Caulfield community and park users Officers are concerned that the group are not working towards the event becoming financially sustainable in the future

COMMENT: It certainly looks good on the final community grant figures that organisations receive money for their events. The total is impressive. But, when one looks at the actual funding then a substantial amount is provided for the HIRING OF COUNCIL FACILITIES. Hence it is NOT money that comes out of council’s coffers and why groups should be made to jump through so many hoops to use council facilities that are paid for by ratepayer funds anyway is something that is never addressed. The other question of course is why a group providing such ‘worthwhile’ endeavours should be ‘sustainable’ anyway? When council spends a fortune on pavilions for sporting clubs or regrassing and regrassing sporting ovals do they insist that all these clubs are “sustainable”?

There are numerous other items that we will address in the days ahead – particularly on the ongoing fiasco of GESAC .

PS: We mustn’t forget another item that’s resulted from Delahunty’s request for a report on ‘pop-up parks’. Needless to say Council provides all the opposing arguments, some extremely dubious, rather than highlighting the positives. Here are some choice extracts opposing the introduction of such parks:

Consultation and feedback suggests that the Glen Eira community is seeking permanent new open spaces and at the quality that they are used to in Council’s existing parks.

When Council invited the community into open space, the Council has a duty of care that the land and improvements are safe. This includes managing any contamination, removal of hazards, provision of equipment (eg playgrounds) that can withstand heavy use, including use which is more than the intended use (eg attempts to vandalise). This usually involves materials of a higher than normal strength……..For the above reasons, the cost of making a pop up park available to the public may be similar to the cost of a permanent park – but without the longer period of the investment.

Conclusion

A pop up park may be considered where there is no option to provide a permanent park.

Where there are opportunities to provide permanent parks, that will generally achieve better parks, better use of public funds and a greater satisfaction of community needs.

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