We’ve pinched part of a dialogue from the Facebook page of the Glen Eira Residents’ Action Group, featuring Newton Gatoff and Jamie Hyams.

HYAMS: It’s (election results) not unbelievable when you look at the latest community satisfaction survey, which is run by the State Government and therefore independent of Council. 56% said Council’s performance was very good or good and 11% said it was poor or very poor (32% said it was average and 1% didn’t know). The survey represents all age groups and suburbs.

GATOFF: I’m not sure the “community satisfaction survey” is borne out by the election result, but when a community elects a majority of new Councillors, it tends to reflect a call for change – In Kingston where the Council had structure plans, collaborative community decision-making and transparent Council meetings, the electorate re-elected every incumbent who stood. Yes, there are many good things being done by good Officers in Glen Eira who get well paid to perform. The Councillors can save their chest-beating for when we have a planning scheme which is fair and a level of governance which responds to the vocal minority. This is not a private club membership; it is an honourable non-executive role which should be performed with sincerity and humility but above all in reflection of the community’s wishes. So congratulations Jamie, you were re-elected again, and I for one will be calling on all three of my ward Councillors to give as much airtime to residents who need your help as you do to celebrating statistics. My commiserations to you Neil, it is not a generous process and I realise how hard it can be 1st time around, but I would invite you to remain a voice of sense and reason in whichever municipality you find yourself in.

HYAMS: Responding specifically to Newton, yes there were only four incumbents returned, but Michael Lipshutz resigned, Kelvin Ho had only been a councillor for a few months, Oscar generally didn’t identify with Council’s successes and while Thomas was a valued and constructive councillor, as an endorsed Greens councillor, his fortunes were more closely tied to the regard voters had for his party. That leaves only five of us whose re-election reflected the community regard for the Council, and four of us were re-elected. It was a great shame that Neil Pilling, who was a fair and diligent councillor who had the respect of his colleagues, was not returned.

Newton, having read your recent and earlier posts, and also listened to your performance on J-Air radio, there seems to be a theme that the wider community doesn’t really know what’s good for them, so Council should listen to the “vocal minority”. I find this to be quite elitist and undemocratic. I’m on council to represent the whole community, not just those who make the most noise. You also attack us for having implemented height limits in all residential zones, and for not having structure plans, the main feature of which would be height limits, in commercial zones. I would think that you can complain either about us having height limits or not having them, but when you complain about both, you just appear to be criticising us for the sake of it.

You say we brought in the zones without consultation and should therefore apologise, but the zones were the direct result of consultation in the form of the 2010/11 Planning Scheme Review, and apart from one block in Caulfield North, it was a direct translation from the Minimal Change and Housing Diversity Areas and Urban Villages to the corresponding Zones. I refer you to my earlier more detailed post on this issue, posted on 10 October. Councils tend not to consult when implementing to the letter the result of a previous consultation, and certainly don’t apologise for it.

I agree that we do need structure plans in commercial zones, and implementing these is one of the priorities of our planning scheme review. However, up till recently, our policies generally provided the necessary protection from overdevelopment in these areas, and this only changed when various VCAT members took it upon themselves to disregard these policies.

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