A very good turnout at last night’s Camden ward ‘Meet the Candidates’ forum. Congratulations to all candidates for showing up, namely – Delahunty, Pinskier, Hermann, Sounness, Silver, Fayman and Strajt. Questions focused on the following:

  • Community safety – with some members of the audience arguing that Glen Eira is very safe. Candidates responded that crime statistics don’t bear this out and that if even some residents feel unsafe that it is council’s duty to listen and consider their concerns. Ms Pinskier said that she was opposed to CCTV cameras and ‘angry’ about guns in parks which she is absolutely against.
  • One resident from Redan Road, Caulfield East asked why Delahunty and Sounness voted against 92% of residents’ wishes in regard to council’s traffic management ‘solution’ for the street and why emails weren’t answered. Delahunty responded by saying that the measures introduced were in response to ‘safety’ issues and that she makes no apologies for that.
  • Another resident asked how much money council had raised in the past few years from the open space levy and how much of this money had been spent in acquiring new open space in Camden. Sounness replied that there is a process in place where officers look at what is available for purchase and then determine how to proceed. Given the high cost of land at the moment councillors have to decide if any purchase is ‘value for money’. Delahunty then outlined what council had spent money on – ie Riddell Parade, Eskdale Road, and the purchase of an Aileen Avenue property (to be settled in November).
  • Next question was directed to new candidates about the changes to the public questions protocols and whether they thought this was ‘discriminatory’. All new candidates stated that they were opposed to this change and Pinskier favoured full streaming of council meetings. Silver added that he thought there should be a limit on the number of questions per individual because council could then run until 3am! The resident also asked about why the ‘red fence’ of the racecourse was still up and why council allowed this. On the fence question Sounness stated that he thought it was part of the racecourse only to be corrected that it was both council’s and the MRC’s responsibility. Delahunty conceded that council should get moving on this issue and that it was ridiculous that people couldn’t ask questions like this at council instead of a forum.
  • Another resident asked the new candidates for their definitions of ‘neighbourhood character’ and ‘overdevelopment’ and how they could ‘guarantee’ (as Silver stated on his facebook page) that there would be ‘sensible development’. Silver responded that his definition of this is ‘family friendly’ development with proper apartment size to fit 2 adults and 2 children and the need for gardens. Fayman was concerned about waiving of car parking places and thought that 3 or 4 storeys along main arterial roads was justifiable as were one bedroom apartments near university. Strajt spoke about population growth and how councils that joined forces would be best placed to resist overdevelopment. Hermann called overdevelopment the most important issue facing the community and undertook to get fully ‘up to speed’.
  • There was a question on preferences and whether this was done on political grounds. Delahunty said that she put those who had real estate advertising on their boards as last. Silver thought this was a ‘slur’ and that there was no ‘impropriety’ or ‘conflict of interest’ concerns. Hermann thought it was time for fresh faces and that’s why Delahunty and Sounness were put last on her voting card.
  • Another questioner was interested in governance and brought up the issue of notice of motion, recording of council meetings and general transparency and accountability and whether the local law would be changed as ‘first item on the agenda’. Silver said it was ‘up there’ but not his first item and didn’t know whether these suggested options ‘would work’.  Sounness, Hermann, Delahunty were all in favour.
  • A further question was on the large number of developments in Elsternwick, especially the shopping strip and whether candidates felt it was appropriate that this rate of development continues. Also queried was the future of the Elsternwick library. Strajt talked about the system failing and the need for wholesale changes so that councils have more control. Sounness said he would like to see 4, 5 or 6 storey development in some areas so that people can get to know each other and that where there is ‘density’ that it has to be well designed and ‘comfortable’. Hermann was concerned about traffic in Elsternwick and overshadowing and if elected would do all she could to change this. Delahunty said that structure planning could control the ‘rate of change’ as was pointed out by Wynne. Said she will ‘wear’ the criticism as council hasn’t done any structure planning and that when the Coles development happens this will ‘stretch’ the rate of development even further. Structure planning will help and that ‘should have been done a long time ago’.
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