The ongoing saga of the intended ‘relocation’ of Caulfield Park ovals and the originally proposed removal of 39 trees should be a lesson to all Glen Eira residents. What has been made clear is:

  • The lack of straight talking and honesty from this administration and its councillors
  • No such thing as community consultation and certainly not adopting any community suggestions
  • When found out telling porkies simply change the argument and find another bogus excuse
  • Councillors, as always, remain superfluous appendages to the plans hatched by officers
  • Open space is becoming the exclusive preserve of sporting clubs under this regime
  • The environment, and especially trees, and tree management come in as very low on the list of priorities for this council

The arguments for the proposed expenditure of what we anticipate to be close to $800,000 have changed continually. Yet, in the fine print of various documents, the truth emerges – that is, if the poor resident can even find, collate, and then consider the implications of the buried, nebulous figures. Presented below are statements extracted from the last three Quarterly Reports. Taken together they provide the raison d’etre for what is happening now.

September to March 2013 – Summer season 2012/13 one social cricket club did not request an allocation. Team numbers down this summer season, the reduction was mainly with junior cricket teams.

Summer 2013/14 season team numbers dropped from 235 to 204, (31 team decline) the decreases were:• Softball 1 senior men’s, 3 senior women’s & 2 juniors

• Cricket 2 senior women’s and 23 juniors

Winter 2013 season team numbers have increased from 249 to 272 (23 teams) the increases were:

• 13 soccer teams

• 4 AFL teams

• 6 lacrosse teams

We do not take issue with the need for sporting fields as such. What we do take issue with is the lack of transparency by this council, the continual dissemination of deliberately misleading information, and why residents should always be the last to know what the real corporate vision is, the costs involved, and the deviousness with which plans are implemented. This is all best summed up in the latest email from the Friends of Caulfield Park!

Dear Mary

Thank you for coming clean yesterday about the real agenda driving the enlarged ovals.

We now know that it is not insurance and the buffer zones, they were simply a pretext; it is about cramming in as many junior soccer ovals as possible and cutting down trees that the kids might run into.  Further, it finally clear that the intent is to use the sports area at night since there is, for the first time, the stated intent to put in lights.  As usual, there was no consultation and it is certainly not in line with the Master Plan.

So it turns out that in objecting to the justifications given for cutting down the trees that we have been chasing a trail of red herrings while those in the know sat and smiled.  No wonder this Council keeps us all in the dark!  The paradigm of mushroom management is obvious.

Also, a benefit of enlarging the playing fields that is given in the Council website news update is typically misleading.   It compares the present number of available junior grounds with what could be achieved under the administration’s proposed plan. The real comparison should be with the number that would be available under the FoCP plan.  The difference would be far smaller.

We looked back at your election flyer where you stated that you will “work hard to preserve the beauty of Glen Eira, to increase the livability of our wonderful suburbs”.  How can you reconcile these undertakings with supporting the transformation of one of Melbourne’s premier parks, a park not owned by the Council but administered in Trust, into a treeless green wasteland?  Instead of the treed ovals of the past, we are left with interlocking treeless areas with a few saplings round the periphery.  Perhaps you can rationalise it, but those people who elected you have a much harder task.

We realise that the insurance need was a red herring, but we did as I believe that you suggested and we contacted the MAV about the insurance situation.  We were reliably informed that while all councils have an obligation to protect the safety of users of property for which they are responsible, there is NO set directive about buffer zones and no specific insurance requirements about buffer zones. Furthermore, contrary to what may have been said, there are no discounts on premiums as a result of having these buffer zones.

It seems to us as though the Administration is either deliberately misleading Councillors or is simply providing selective information to support its programs.  Certainly each time we demonstrate the emptiness of a justification to cut down these trees, a new one pops up.

Kind regards

Spike Cramphorn

Secretary FoCP

PS: the latest FoCP email

Dear Mary,

Thank you for your phone call.  You are right the phrase to “come clean” is not appropriate in this context and does not reflect what I intended to convey.

What I should have said was that after talking to you and looking at the Council’s new information, the total amount budgeted, and the amount allocated for this portion of the work, it had become clear to us that the the Council’s intent had always been to expand this area to accommodate lots of junior football fields whilst talking cricket ovals.  We then surmised that the uncommitted amount in the budget was for night lights and felt that we, the Friends of Caulfield Park had been unable to learn any of this until as late as possible.

It has been said that the FoCP are always negative, but this is only because we, the only representatives of the informal and casual users of the park, are left out of any consultation process on matters that affect Caulfield Park.  When there is a material departure from the  Master Plan, as in this instance, we believe that this is not appropriate and that often, with some minor adjustments, we could achieve much better outcomes for all.

None of this was attributable to you personally and I did not intend to convey this.  To the extent that it appeared to do so, I apologise without reservation.

Yours sincerely,

Michael

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