To put it bluntly, the Local Laws Committee comprising Lipshutz, Hyams, Okotel and Lobo is an absolute joke. It’s worth pointing out that to the best of our knowledge no other council in the state has a Local Laws Committee. So why does Glen Eira? Our take on the existence of this committee is basically to ensure that the all important meeting procedures (and hence the anti-democratic nature of this council) remains intact. The committee is also useful in stalling, and sabotaging anything that might be regarded as ‘populist’ but contrary to the wishes of the ruling clique.

As current practice stands, it is able to function in what amounts to secrecy.  We have good reason to believe that other councillors don’t always get to see the officer reports that go to this committee, or are fully briefed on what happens within the committee. It is the usual small enclave of the chosen few. In short, there is no scrutiny from full council. This covers other important committees as well. The minutes are anything but minutes. No officer reports ever make it into the public domain. All that happens is that motions are passed that the recommendations be accepted. End of story and another failure to be transparent and accountable. With no public discussion, no information provided, and no debate within chambers we have the antithesis of good governance.

Not only is this committee at the forefront of maintaining the status quo, but also in ensuring that nothing ever gets done. Below is a table comprising extracts from the minutes of the last 3 Local Law Committee meetings. We direct readers’ attention to:

  • the failure to bring matters to full council as stated last December (ie alcohol zone in Centre Rd)
  • the repetition, month after month so that in 9 months absolutely nothing is achieved
  • No evidence whatsoever is provided for the decisions made
  • No mention in any records of assembly – alcohol zones; organised sport, and only 4 mentions of a tree register in 9 months. So either these records of assembly are complete fabrications, or very little of what happens in the Local Laws committee gets reported back to all councillors. There’s even one notation where Delahunty asked what is going on with the tree register and the committee (12th March, 2013).

PS: We can even go as far back as the 13th August 2012 to find the Significant Tree Register on the agenda of the committee. Tabling the ‘minutes’ of these committees is also a monumental task it seems since it often takes up to 3 months for the few words to be placed before the public.

3rd December 2012

6th March 2013

6th May 2013

Tree Protection

The Committee discussed the draft tree protection papers and reviewed drafts prepared arising from the last Local Laws Committee meeting. Extensive discussion arose regarding amendments. The members agreed that a scoring system was not appropriate.

The Committee discussed and recommended a number of changes to the draft local law and the tree evaluation process.

Action: amend draft law as recommended by the Committee – Jeff Akehurst, Robyn Taft

 

Classified Tree Register

The latest drafts of the Tree Protection Local Law and associated documents were discussed.

The main issue discussed was the right of appeal/internal review.

Further work required – agenda item for next meeting.

Action – Corporate Counsel to attend to amendments and provide advice on review mechanisms.

Classified Tree Register

The latest drafts of the Tree Protection Local Law and associated documents were discussed.

The main issue discussed was rights of appeal/internal review.

Further changes were requested to be made to the draft to incorporate provision for appeals.

Action – Corporate Counsel to attend to amendments.

Alcohol free zone for Centre Road Bentleigh

The Councillors discussed the merits of having an alcohol free zone in Centre Rd Bentleigh, which had been requested by local traders.

The Committee agreed that the matter would be referred to the Council for discussion.

Alcohol free zone – Bentleigh

Report considered regarding installation of alcohol free zone in Centre Rd, Bentleigh. Committee agreed that Victoria Police are best placed to deal with alcohol related behaviour. They have the powers and training to deal with this issue. Council may be able to act as owner of land rather than through a Local Law.

Action- Corporate Counsel to investigate the possibility of erection of signs prohibiting consumption of alcohol on Council land.

 

Alcohol free zone

The committee discussed the implementation of an alcohol free zone in the Bentleigh shopping strip area. It was considered that behaviour under the influence of alcohol was a matter for the Police, not for local government.

No further action.

Local Law 326 – permit for use of Council Land

The Committee discussed various options with respect to amending Local Law 326 . Those options were:

To revoke Local Law 326 and draft a new provision which would provide for priority of use to allocation holders but otherwise for substantially unfettered access to Council parks and gardens subject to certain limitations or

(ii) The incorporation of guidelines for the application of Local Law 326.

The Committee agreed to recommend the incorporation of guidelines for the applicationof Local Law 326 which guidelines would provide assistance in determining the activities that would be regarded as a breach of the Local Law.

The Committee agreed legal advice should be obtained on incorporation of the guidelines into the local law.

Action: obtain legal advice – Robyn Taft

Local Law 326 – Activities where permit is required

Report considered. Further work required for next Local Law Committee meeting.

Action – Corporate Counsel to redraft proposed guideline.

Local Law 326

Draft guidelines to support Local Law 326 were discussed.

Further amendments to the draft were proposed in order to make it clear as to how that provision is to

be interpreted.

Action – Corporate Counsel to draft amendments to guidelines.

  Smoke free zones

Discussed the possibility of introducing smoke free zones. The State Government has raised the possibility of action on a State-wide basis rather than municipality by municipality.

Action – Corporate Counsel to provide advice to the next meeting on current situation with State legislation on smoking prohibition.

Smoke Free Zone

The State Government has foreshadowed legislation on smoke free areas. Committee agreed to wait until the legislation was amended and re‐visit then.

Action – Corporate Counsel to advise Local Law Committee when legislation has been amended.

  General Business

  • • A Frame signs on cars; and
  • • Meeting procedure.

Action – Corporate Counsel to confirm unroadworthiness status of vehicle with an A frame.

AFrame Signs on Cars

Report considered. Report detailed various legislation that relates to this issue.

Committee agreed that the introduction of a Local Law was not warranted at this time.

This issue to be monitored for possible future action.

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