This post concerns what happened at the final council meeting of last year (December 17th). In response to an earlier Request for a Report, the following motion was put and carried. We draw readers’ attention to the fact that Hyams, Esakoff and Lipshutz voted against the motion. We also highlight the fact that what purports to be the actual motion/resolution is NOT what Delahunty said. Two significant words have been omitted from 3 (a) and 3(b) thereby totally changing the outcomes and meaning of the resolution. The entire motion as presented in the now accepted and doctored minutes reads:

Crs Delahunty/Magee

That Council notes:

1. A further part of the process for the amendment of C60 is the consideration / approval of development plans which will involve further community consultation.

2. The first development plan has already been submitted to council and will be the subject of community consultation in early 2014.

3. The report sought to address the area surrounding the Caulfield Racecourse as a whole not just the area comprising C60 and as such further requests:

a. That the recent traffic study conducted on Queens Avenue, Caulfield East including the area around the Neerim Road intersection and the Sir John Monash Drive intersection,

b. That the recent traffic study conducted on Eskdale Road Caulfield East showing the impact, if any on the local street of the changed traffic conditions on nearby Kambrook Road; and

c. That any studies of pedestrian movement along Queens Avenue be examined for potential improvements to safety and accessibility.

4. That the Minutes of this Item incorporate the Resolution of 9 April 2013 in full and the Planning Conference held on 4 April 2011 in Attachment 2.

When Delahunty moved this motion she included in Clause 3 (a and b) the phrase “be provided”. In other words, Delahunty’s motion was asking that the traffic reports which have already been done be given to councillors, or possibly even be made public. By omitting these words from the minutes the entire resolution is exiled to some never-never land of inaction.  Yet, not one single councillor at last night’s meeting commented upon this omission. We have to wonder if Delahunty herself would have asked that the minutes be corrected.

The full significance of all this becomes obvious when one follows the ‘discussion’ that took place on the motion and the pathetic and duplicitous arguments proposed by Hyams, Esakoff and Lipshutz. Here’s what happened:

DELAHUNTY moved motion. Magee seconded.

DELAHUNTY: stated that some traffic studies had been done in the ‘Caulfield East area’ and that ‘a number of residents have contacted’ her about the traffic and she doesn’t want to be ‘dismissive’ of these people.  Said that she thought that residents need ‘actions now’ and that it’s ‘wise’ to understand ‘what might occur in the future’. Wanted this done in a more ‘informal discussion’ and ‘incorporated into community consultation’ and wanted the community consultation committee involved in this. For now, she just wanted that councillors ‘get more information about’ traffic studies on top of what was done in 2011.

MAGEE: Magee did not speak to the motion.

HYAMS: began by saying ‘it’s not so much the substance’ of the motion but the ‘timing’. Said that there would be lots of ‘changes’ to the area and that noone could say that they were ‘all right’ and that there were still going to be ‘a lot’ of changes in the next couple of years especially to the ‘road structure’ and that council had ‘put in’ a ‘lot of conditions’. Thought that all this ‘might be a bit premature’ and didn’t want to have ‘all this effort’ put into ‘producing reports’ when it could all be ‘out of date reasonably soon’. Conceded that it’s important to ‘keep an eye’ on things but wasn’t sure ‘whether this is really the time to do this’.

SOUNNESS: started off by saying that the C60 is ‘controversial’ and that residents were worried about what was ‘going to happen’ and how it was going to work. Said that the processes are ‘confusing to the community’ and therefore there was a ‘need for help to explain to the community’ what is happening. ‘It’s a process of being clear and transparent’ and that’s the role of council. Developers can work within their own area, but the changes and processes should be made clear. Thought that the motion was a ‘good way’ that ‘council does do its communication’ and that the community consultation committee would be ‘a very good place’ to explore all the options. Reiterated that this was ‘confusing’ and that there is ‘uncertainty, there is doubt’ and ‘Council has a role in trying to mitigate that fear’.

ESAKOFF: agreed with Hyams in that the motion is ‘too premature’.

LIPSHUTZ: agreed with Sounness that there was ‘angst’ in the community and although Delahunty’s motion is something that ‘should happen, but not right now’. Said that the ‘first step is to let the development plan come through’ so the community ‘can see’ what’s there. Only then should council ‘look at the whole precinct’. What’s happening now is that the motion proposes to look at roads without knowing what the whole precinct is going to look like. ‘When it does come in things may change’. Residents need ‘to know from an informed position’ and ‘doing it now is not an informed position’. ‘What we should be doing is allowing it to happen and then have consultation’ once the development plan is in so that then ‘everyone can become involved’.

PILLING: thought the motion had enough ‘merit’ for it to be passed.

DELAHUNTY: said that she had ‘changed what I originally wanted to ask’ as to whether there was an ‘additional work’ and there wasn’t because the traffic studies had already been done. Said that the motion isn’t asking for additional or any consultation but the methods of consultation are the focus. Wanted to ‘include the whole precinct’ and not just one area. Wanted to know how council or the consultation committee could ‘increase the scope’ of consultation. Wanted some ‘scope’ to ‘understand pedestrian movement’ along Queen’s Road because people had notified her about ‘safety’

MOTION PUT AND CARRIED – ESAKOFF, HYAMS, LIPSHUTZ VOTED AGAINST.

COMMENT

Residents should consider very carefully WHY Esakoff, Hyams and Lipshutz voted against a motion that requested information on traffic and parking. Their nonsense argument of ‘premature’ is an insult to the intelligence of residents. This is akin to saying ‘let’s wait til the tsunami hits and then see what our emergency plans are like’!!!! Utter rubbish! When the MRC proposes 2,046 units, with no provision for on site visitor parking, no real and plausible explanation of what is going to happen to the displaced MRC members’ car parks on race days, and when Monash is booted out of its current car parking arrangement at the racecourse and staff and students have nowhere to park, then residents have every right to ask that information is supplied BEFORE any of the disasters happen. Making matters worse, nothing in the MRC parking plan, and absolutely nothing from councillors, talks about the flow on effects of both parking displacements and the hordes of new residents congesting an already over-congested area.

Further, if council has actually done some traffic analysis of nearby streets then how can this be ‘premature’? The accompanying report states unequivocably that the Development plan was already in council’s hands. Hence, Lipshutz knows full well (if he bothered to read it) what the plan entailed. If by chance he wasn’t privy to it, then this is just another black mark against an administration that keeps its councillors (or some of them) completely in the dark until things are sufficiently ‘massaged’ and vital decisions are made on the basis of LACK OF RELEVANT INFORMATION.

Regardless of whether or not all councillors had clapped eyes on the Development plan by December 17th, any information that may shed further light on decision making must be available. Council will be deciding again in a piece meal fashion – development plan, by development plan. Who knows when the next Development plan for the second precinct will be forthcoming. But in the meantime, the MRC will already have ‘cemented’ the residential component of the project and the traffic mayhem will have been let loose on unsuspecting residents.

A truck could literally be driven through the gang’s arguments. Lipshutz wants to ‘wait’ for plans for the ‘whole precinct’. Somebody should tell him that the documents DO REVEAL the plans for the ‘whole precinct’ – however briefly! Also included in this first Development Plan are 3 documents relating to traffic management for the entire area. But, and this is a big BUT, the MRC have basically only looked at 4 streets and not Queens Ave, Sir John Monash Drive, Eskdale Road, etc. If council has done what the MRC ignored then this is crucial information that should be given not only to councillors, but provided to the public at large.

What Lipshutz, Esakoff and Hyams are in fact doing, in our view, is to push the MRC agenda. We have no idea when the subsequent development plans will be released. It could be years away, but in the meantime, the residential precinct will be underway and traffic chaos will ensue. And that’s what Lipshutz, Esakoff and Hyams are basically arguing for. Let’s wait and see they say. Our view is ‘forewarned is forearmed’. And once this particular development plan is rubber stamped by the gang, whatever follows will be too little, too late. The wheels will be set in motion and undoing what’s been done becomes an impossibility. You can’t undo something after the fact. Traffic analysis of all the area, especially those streets not included in the MRC development plans, are essential to decision making now. They are essential for the public to understand what will happen and will provide residents with the grounds for objections – that of course assumes that the council investigation is indeed ‘objective’ and honest. We have our doubts.

Governance overall continues to be a major problem. How many more times will minutes create fiction out of fact? How many more times will this councillor group allow inaccurate and distorted versions of what really occurred to enter into the formal record and thus aid and abet the continual rewriting of history?

But most important is the very fact that these three councillors are Trustees. This inevitably calls into question whether or not they really have the interests of residents at heart, or are basically MRC stooges. Remember, they and Newton are responsible for C60; they and Newton are responsible for setting up a Special Committee where 4 councillors (a minority!) decided the fate of thousands, and they are responsible for the failure to listen to the community. This latest incident is only further evidence of why their actions, their words, and their hidden agendas, require a full Royal Commission.

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