I want more

June 10, 2017

Do you think you’re getting value for your rates dollars?

May 26, 2017

We have three days to let council know what we want out rates spent on, if we think there needs to be more money spent on maintaining parks, if your roads need replacement or repair. If you say nothing you will get nothing, if you don’t let council know what your priorities are they are not able to ensure funds are made available to ensure your ‘will’ is done. Its your rates money primarily paying for the things in the budget.

As you know there is a draft budget and delivery program on exhibition at present, its a hefty document and can be read on line via the council website or the “Liverpool Listens” website. Please take a few minutes to see what is being proposed and what is on offer, support it, reject it or simply add to it, but you must do something. We cannot complain about things we want that aren’t done if we don’t get involved in the process. I am presently working on a document that will highlight some of the structural problems with the document and I am probably a little more aware than most of the challenges and aspirations attached to this document however every year only a few, sometimes only one of us, sends the council their thoughts and hopes, wishes and plans.

If you think your local park needs a little more attention, let council know that you support more staff being employed to service those parks, if you think the local community centre is well run or needs a little attention let them know. If you are happy to pay more in parking meters tell them, or not. But you cannot complain later if you say nothing now. We paid out 33million for an entrance to Westfields, aka the mall, there is now a civic centre proposed for the Scott Street site, are you happy with council borrowing almost another 100M (82.9 to be clear) to build a civic centre?

On the Liverpool Listens site is a terrific map where you can click on the link and it will show you what is proposed in that location, whether it is a bus stop, road works, park embellishments what ever and you can see for yourself. This is a fabulous addition to the process and I strongly recommend you having a look. Liverpool Listens (click here)

You may need to register but it doesn’t’ take long and when you are finished there is a link to directly advise council of your views and opinion. No need for a lengthy document you can do it straight on line or you can prepare an emailed style of comment.

Here are the links:

click here for Draft Delivery and Operational document

click here for Liverpool Listens

I strongly recommend you have a say, I have some fine tuning of my suggestions to be done before I email it in, and will post it here on the submissions page.

We have almost 200,000 residents and last year I think the council only received 6 submissions, please don’t let this be the case again, these are your rates dollars and you need to be involved, you need to be heard and you can’t really complain if you sit on your hands now.

The only downside for me is I don’t get to read them, I do see the summary once submissions are received and ready for endorsement or denial by councillors.

Have a good weekend, I may see you at the Liverpool Animal Shelters open day tomorrow and please spend a few minutes (more if you have the time) and have your say.

Address your submissions to:

The Chief Executive Officer

Ms Kiersten Fishburn

Liverpool City Council

Locked Bag 7064

LIVERPOOL BC 1871

 

Delivered VIA EMAIL TO lcc@liverpool.nsw.gov.au

Reference: 2016/2702


Budget and Delivery Programs

May 18, 2017

Hi, It’s been quite a while since I posted, lots happening however there are a few things I’d like to update you on.

Forums have changed, sadly without discussion with the attendees, along with the format for community forums have changed. Some changes are positive however the frequency is one of the less positive. While we used to meet every month now they are held every three months and the locations have increased. Council has prepared a detailed list of the venues and dates and having attended all 6 in April the increase in attendance was approximately 1/3rd. Many of the old participants were not in attendance and it will be very interesting to see if this remains so, whether the numbers will increase or lessen and the format endorsed remains to be seen. The new forums are run by councillors, Labor and LCIT party councillors, the positive being that 6 councillors now attend the forums where previously only 2 sometimes 3 showed up of the 11.

Drawing attention to the fewer forums events (now being quarterly) means that now as the Budget and delivery program are on public exhibition the usual community engagement amounts to just one public event being presented and that was held tonight at Carnes Hill community centre. Having been away for some time during the last month this almost escaped me too, thankfully a call this afternoon alerted me to the program and I and 5 other attendees were taken through the basics. I urge everyone to get a copy of the documents and take some time to read through them. As always there are some positives and a few questions I”ll need to consider, however after many years of requesting both forward projections and past years data this has been provided.  The staff in attendance were more than happy to answer questions and each offered to be contacted directly with other concerns.

Sadly and no real surprise was that not one councillor chose to attend to listen to the concerns and questions of residents. NOT ONE!! Either they couldn’t be bothered, there was a briefing session or someone forgot to tell them lol. I’m guessing with the council meeting on the 31 it is possible for there to be a briefing session, disappointing if  that is the case but possibly not as disappointing as the idea that none of them could be bothered. Alas I’m sure someone will enlighten us.

Having missed the last council meeting (6 since 2007) I’m a little out of the loop on some things however all is pretty much back to normal and I will be darkening your email doorsteps again, hopefully regularly.

Don’t’ forget NOW IS THE TIME  to lodge your concerns and questions in relation to council expenditure and incomes over the coming year. If you don’t make the effort you can’t complain if the council spends your rates money contrary to your expectation. With the plans for a VERY EXPENSIVE Civic Centre in train, proposed debt/borrowings over about 10yrs of over $100million on top of the infrastructure backlog in the hundreds of millions. Parking costs will increase, rental of council properties will increase, so it’s time to have a close look, consider the fairness and ensure the equity for all residents .

Thanks to the 5 staff members who were in attendance, I’m looking forward over the coming days to drill further into the detail and prepare my submission, I believe it’s due on the 28th. (clearly I need to check lol)

Watch this space, thanks to those who enquired about me and my lack of postings.

 

 

 


Time Flies – now back to business.

March 27, 2017

While many may be thinking I have disappeared the truth is quite the opposite. Council has changed forums from 2 to 6 and so far this month I have already attended 4 with varying results and have another 2 this week. I know a number of people who are dismayed at the changes without consultation with those who attended the previous forums and for me the decision as to their effectiveness is not yet known. I know that where I used to attend 2 and was welcomed, one councillor (as chair) has decided he would not enforce the ‘you’re not welcome you don’t live here’ clause in the new terms of reference. Lovely isn’t it, as a concerned and involved member of the community (and not just the one around my house) I am deemed an unwelcome addition. Funny I would have expected those kind of comments from the last majority however surprised the new is continuing the ‘them and us’ notions of the past. The eastern and 2168 panels are to be held this week and it will be interesting to see how they go. As I said I am reserving judgement for now, some attendances have been good and others not so, more importantly at some it is noticeable that former attendees have not been in attendance, dividing the areas may have something to do with that. It is also interesting to see these panels being chaired by councillors with staff as supporters. More interesting is that a number of these councillors never saw fit to actually attend any of the former forums but do so now as they get to chair and decide who is welcome and who is not. I do have to say at one if I had heard the word “guys” one more time I might have screamed, our penchant for americanising our language is one thing but 20-30 times in succession is a bit much. It will be interesting to see how these pan out, as has been identified a couple of times the community can request that they are held more frequently than the proposed quarterly and how that will impact on some residents is yet to be seen.

This week is the council meeting, I regret poor health prevented me attending the last (not too bad missing only 5 in 9 yrs) so I am now reading through both last months and this month’s papers in the hope I’ve not missed anything too important. That said items in confidence are again numerous this week, there are 7, and while it is not unusual for there to be a dozen on the agenda, the idea that information (of the non commercial inconfidence style) is being with held. One cannot clearly make out what each of the items in confidence are referring to and the act seems to give license to way too much information being withheld from those who are actually paying for it, we the rate payers.

I am pleased to see a couple of items near and dear to my heart on this agenda, the Tree replacement questions are incredibly important and our lack lustre approach to removal of trees in development sites has for too long gone unaddressed and the councils penchant for replacing trees with shrubs has been questioned by me on numerous occasions previously. Or in the case of this picture and entire tree removed rather than preventative work done in the first place. Worse is it is unlikely this tree will be replaced at all. 😦

There are a few things we as a community should be closely watching and commenting on in the wider community, the councils 2027 strategic plan is on  public exhibition until Wednesday and this is your opportunity to comment… while at the same time the Greater Sydney Commission public comments are due. This is particularly important as in many (all) cases this unelected, unrepresentative group of people get to override the elected members of our councils and make decisions that will impact our futures, how development and growth impact on generations still to come. While I am confident not all their decisions will be bad for us, who elected them, who asked that this group of most likely well meaning but completely unrepresentative of our community gets to make decisions as to what gets dumped on us next?

I don’t think many people are aware of the numerous and enormous impacts things like the Moorebank Intermodal, the Badgerys Creek Airport, CSG mining and the New ever disgraceful Worlds Largest Incinerator (at Eastern Creek)  will affect our air, our water and our climate with all that pollution and concrete. As a community we really do have to rally against being the dumping ground for abhorrent development, no matter how pretty a bow of environmentally friendly they tie to it. None of those projects are good for the environment, not for your health, not for your kids health and their kids to come…  It’s a little like Cllr Balloots Affordable housing question a month or two ago, he titled it Affordable housing, but on reading it, it actually addressed not one concern that would make housing more affordable, it did however if it had not been withdrawn at the last minute, benefit developers very well. Far too often today are we being sold environmentally beneficial projects that in fact have no benefit to the environment at all… the label helps sell the project but on closer reading in too many instances it actually has the opposite effect. It not unlike the present federal government’s push to reduce taxes to big business, one, it would be nice if they paid appropriate taxes in the first place but removing them under the guise that it helps business employ more workers is just bunkum, it most certainly does improve their  bottom line and that of their shareholders but when did you hear of a company increasing wages? when did you hear that they employed more workers and not put off people/downsize or move off shore? As for small businesses they won’t get any benefit at all and if you read the bureau of statistics figures more small businesses operate locally than big ones and they could really do with a few more customers, you know by increasing the support for those unable to find work or those unable to find enough work so they can spend locally, raising wages, supporting penalty hours, so locals could spend at the local stores and actually boost employment and productivity. This is a subject I could talk about for hours but for now I need to work on my submissions and work on things that will actually benefit my community.

Thanks to those who enquired after my non attendance at the last council meeting, all is well and your concerns appreciated.

See you at the council meeting on Wednesday, or the Eastern forum on Tuesday, 2168 on Thursday…

 


1st council meeting for 2017

January 31, 2017

2016 Signe OutdoorsTomorrow night is the first council meeting for 2017. Don’t forget they begin at 6pm sharp and are generally more interesting if you know what is on the agenda.

http://liverpool.infocouncil.biz/Open/2017/02/CO_20170201_AGN_320_AT.PDF

So far the agenda isn’t too taxing and there are a couple of items of particular interest, one being NOM01 being put forward by Cllr Balloot… “That as Liverpool is growing and demand is increasing for affordable housing Council should investigate ways to cut red tape and reduce the time to earmark and prioritise lands for new housing developments in an effort to counter the crisis of housing affordability hitting Sydney currently.”

So where is the question about affordability…? He’s most certainly wanting more houses approved and faster but in reading his question and that of the reply nowhere is mentioned the actual percentage of actual affordable housing needed, nor the manner in which to achieve or even cost factors involved in providing AFFORDABLE HOUSING. It sadly screams to me of calling for one thing in the name of another for the benefit of the developer and nothing for the residents in need of affordable housing. Liverpool and surrounds has a real need for housing that is affordable but nothing in this request for expedience is there a provision to provide anything other than more houses – faster, which in fact does not raise or technically provide affordable housing. What we should be calling for is a provision of a set amount of housing being provided that is actually affordable, but developers won’t jump on board and providing more housing may raise the availability of housing but nothing in here suggests how to make it more affordable. (rent capping or even a hint of it isn’t to be found anywhere)

The other is the New Precinct meetings being proposed quarterly or as needed… this will pretty much mean the abolishment of the community forums of which you know I regularly attend and find a particularly engaging manner of getting residents together. It will be interesting to see if there are any changes made to the proposed format. I note that a Cllr Chairperson is to be nominated which is a bit of a laugh when you consider only Cllrs Harle, Shelton and recently Haggarty ever attend. Well that’s not quite true a couple of other councillors managed an appearance prior to an election here and there but they are not what one would call high on the agenda for the majority of councillors. I imagine there will be some toing and froing for chairing some in the ‘more desireable’ locations but only time will tell. Sadly every-time the council chooses to ‘play’ around with the format of the forums it has a huge cost in the way of attendance and the sceptic in me sees this as more of the same. I”m not sure how the Rural forum attendees are going to feel about their meetings being reduced to quarterly as they have in recent times had good attendance monthly.

Please come up and say hi if you are at the meeting tomorrow night – I try to sit where I can watch the majority of the councillors, how they vote etc

Remember these are your rates being discussed, distributed and dissected it’s in your best interest to know where they are being spent. I also tweet during the meetings, if you aren’t connected to twitter you can still read them as they appear to the right of this post throughout the meeting. Again, I would like to congratulate Kiersten Fishburn on her appointment as CEO. I have always found Kiersten fair, engaging and willing to listen to the community so to me that is a real win for the community especially compared to the formers.

See you tomorrow… council chambers, to the right of the Liverpool Main Library doors at 6pm.

Sign off


Good Bye 2016

December 31, 2016

Image0211Here we are at the end of what can only be described as a weird year. Too many of the people on our planet have taken a huge right turn and it’s not pretty. Greed has taken over and self serving politicians seem to dominate the landscape.

How is  this an unusual and weird year…? Let’s start with the Brits, they managed to completely confuse themselves by voting for an exit to the EU… waking up the next day like they had a hangover and wondered what happened. The US went nuts and voted for an egomaniac and we in Australia raised the profile of a bunch of hateful liars who are intent on spreading poor even incorrect information to scare the community into thinking everyone is out the to get them. I remember growing up in a somewhat different time, most of my recollections of the 60’s and 70’s are memories of everyone getting on with the day to day and if a neighbour needed some help they just did what they could. To pretend there weren’t racists about would be naive, however as a child of an immigrant and being reasonably aware of our difference I cannot say I ever felt fear for my safety or even that my neighbour hated me and my family… yet the politicians who peddle the hate and fear of today do exactly that. We are supposed to be a more informed and educated society but the reality is, waaaaaaaayyyyy to many people get their news from shock jocks or media with an agenda. Whether that is self serving or worse controlled by media giants who want more control and less fact reaching the community. It’s time we as a community stood up and said enough is enough. We have many issues affecting us locally that have been ‘sold’ to the community as beneficial but when push comes to shove no one can define the benefit or produce the information required to ensure we do get the purported benefits.  The Moorebank intermodal will not be good for Liverpool, yes it will bring a few jobs and a few companies who rely on freight but it will also drive away potential businesses as our roads will be in gridlock the majority of the time. That’s without touching the hefty impacts such a development will have on the residents of Liverpool and our surroundings, be it air pollution, damage to our precious waterways, even the liveability of our city. Our council has spent hundreds of thousands of our rates dollars to ensure the community is aware and I can pretty much guarantee that percentage wise a very low number of people truly understand the impacts or worse even know about them… some may be aware of the reported benefits, even though the supporting documents cannot prove any such benefit. Same goes for the Badgerys Creek airport. I cannot get past the fact that if the airport is bad for the residents of Mascot and surrounding suburbs how in the hell is it going to be good for the residents in one of NSW’s largest growth areas? Especially when we won’t even have a curfew or the same restrictions afforded Mascot and Sydney’s drinking water will be directly under the flight paths. This doesn’t even touch on things like the impacts of digging coal out of the ground around the state and the immediate damage being done to waterways and the local communities. We are being sold a pup and so few actually seem to care.  The climate is in a bad way and without dramatic changes right now it’s closing in on irreversible and we, all of us, need to step up….

On a personal level I have much to be thankful for this year, my family are pretty well and cared for and very loved. The people with whom I associate are informed and passionate about the communities in which we live and the planet as a whole. Most of all they care.

There are of course things all of us need to consider changing, adjusting or being more aware of and to me that is just normal…I am grateful for the many readers who have taken the time this year to read and respond, even those not wanting to have their information shared. I am grateful for the change in local councillors and that some of  the worst have not returned. I am hopeful for a more inclusive year where more people get involved in local issues.

We do however need to ensure we are better informed, I was surprised when discussing politics with someone yesterday the amazing lack of knowledge associated with politics in this country. The associate and her colleagues had no clue that the likes of Pauline Hanson, Leyonhjelm etc make very good money out of running for federal seats. Especially if they get their 4% and don’t actually win a seat  as they get to keep the money and not have to work for it. Don’t get me wrong every political party earns at a Federal election once they reach 4%, the bigger groups who actually get people elected use that to fund lots of things within their party. We Green’s operate a little differently in that in NSW the local groups manage the funds and they generally finance future elections and the running of the  group and local issues. This I understand is very different to that of even Greens in other states and it is exactly why we at FLG were able to donate a bit of money to ensure 30 local families weren’t hungry this Christmas. For NSW Greens groups the goal is to raise awareness around issues and policies that are of importance to our communities not necessarily ‘winning’ seats although that is indeed beneficial when it comes to actually ensuring change in how politics is done in this country. Our Greens politicians are all hard working and extremely dedicated, that makes me very proud when some things we do achieve benefit the whole community.  All our local group members here in Liverpool and Fairfield do what we do as volunteers and we don’t pay staff or excessive costs for campaign materials etc. We actually manage to run our elections very cheaply and work towards ensuring politics is full of people with a passion for change not a passion for a well paid job, which sadly appears to be the goal of many other individuals and parties and something I personally rally against. The idea of scoring a well paid job followed by a golden handshake in my opinion brings out the worst in people and we should be expecting better.

Thank you all for your contributions and  your patience with my less than regular posts this year, it has been a big year in that elections are time and energy expensive.

I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year.  2017 is shaping up to be a  big year, thankfully not an election one for us so we can focus on some of the local issues that are of most import to our local community.

Stay safe and I will see you in 2017.

 

Sign off


Last 2016 Council meeting and more

December 18, 2016

Christmas treeJust when you thought things were going to quieten down for the summer break I decided to read the minutes from last Wednesday’s council meeting. lol

9 Items were discussed in confidence, that is 9 this month 14 last month that council considers so secretive we need to be left out of any of their discussions or detail. While I accept there are things that need to be protected, like a residents name and  personal details etc, how many times can we be left in the dark and told its okay?

Mayor Waller however does plough through the agenda quickly and so far none of the meetings have ventured into the 11pm finish zone as they did in the past.

A couple of things that I paid particular attention to, of course one being the selection of the New CEO… we are yet to be told who will be managing our hefty business and all I can say is that while most of us were not privy to who were in the final three, it seemed very clear that some members of the LCIT political party were well aware. In fairness I had guessed that the present acting CEO was likely to be amongst them and her being called to speak was confirmation, however even the other candidates arrival was through a different set of doors to ensure we, the paying public, had no clue.  All I can say is appears that secrecy was not necessarily kept for all of us and when I dug a little deeper with the LCIT members they quickly realised I was perplexed that it appeared they had confidential information not available to the rest of the ratepayers.  They did say along with the ACEO, the former CEO of a named local council  and a woman were the other two… Until the formal announcement is made I guess we’re left wondering.  I do hope that if not successful the present A CEO remains in council, she is a valued member of staff from what I can see and appears to have a genuine community engagement focus, something I most certainly value as a resident. I am also very hopeful of a truly competent and capable addition to our staff.

The other thing that concerns me a little is that as your representative on the Environmental Advisory Committee a position I have proudly maintained for a number of years now, the committee is being amalgamated with the floodplain committee, something not all members necessarily favoured. That said we held our last meeting of the EAC last week and the chairperson, Cllr Harle declared he was a member of the Liverpool Action Group,  two other members  failed to declare their membership of the same group, no big deal I guess as the councillor has always been supportive of the environment,  however on reading the minutes of the last council meeting for 2016 it was announced that a former councillor  was now on the new floodplain committee, he too is a member of LAG and a long time vocal opponent of the EAC and the use of funds. For your information we  have been having a number of discussions regarding the use of the Levy. I believe as one of the longest standing members of the committee that the funds are ‘bound’ to be used specifically for environmental use, including the establishment of a community nursery and environmental centre, as you have heard me mention on numerous occasions. Our former CEO Mr Wulff appeared hell bent on absorbing those funds into a general revenue fund for use somewhere else in council, clearly stated during one council meeting. Getting the original business papers and original funding documents are proving quite a chore and have been on the request list for almost a year.I am sure there are good reasons, I’m just not sure what they are. I cannot tell you why there is so many delays however we would have had the nursery up and running a year or more ago if it had not been for the constant roadblocks put in front of the committee and now we see the former councillor may again be in a position to renew his efforts to stymie the entire environmental program if he so chose. (this is well documented here as I’ve written extensively on this before)  If, as is the norm, all members will have the ability to vote on issues before the committee LAG will now have 4 members who could potentially vote in a block and undermine the rest if the elected members. I would like to hope I am wrong however two of those members have already indicated they would like to see the funds used elsewhere rather than on the Enviro/Nursery. Just so you are aware, the nursery was to allow council to save money (our rates) by propagating and growing local species of plants and trees for use in the LGA rather than buying them commercially and the enviro centre was to be set up so members of the community could see/experience different types of home lighting, wall treatments, water saving devices etc etc  could work in their own homes with the added bonus of some of the rooms could be hired out by members of the community as a n offset for any costs. It’s disturbing to see the focus being redirected against such things, that could benefit the entire community. While I agree that one argument for more staff is valid, it is not impossible for that to be achieved as well as the Enviro/Nursery where the community could benefit from in situ examples that only a purpose built facility could provide. I have heard that a number of staff positions have lay empty for some time shows that either council is unwilling to fill them or worse no one wants to work in Liverpool.  Clearly I am not privy to the details however I would like to reassure you, as your representative I will fight for the levy money you pay goes exactly where you are paying for it to go, restoration and maintenance of the environment and to fulfil the established goals under which it was granted. No doubt if I have misunderstood the intent of some of the members or staff, they may certainly post their view here for all to see. For the record I have worked with some of these individuals  in the past and bear no malice towards any of them, I just don’t understand how one local group can potentially garner so much power in any one committee.

Council is a complex place, we have numerous matters on public exhibition presently or just closed, we need to ensure that the community is well represented and heard and I applaud the fact we can comment and am disappointed that so few actually do.

Another issue discussed was the repurchase of part of the former council chambers site. AKA No: 1 Hoxton Park Rd.   This was approved by councillors and would mean from what I could gather mean some of the staff may return to the old site if we can purchase it for the maximum cost of what we sold the entire block.

As I tweeted during the meeting council approved the renewal of the netball courts for the competitions they have secured for the coming two years. Questions were being asked as to why the courts were in such disrepair and to be frank there are a number of us who wouldn ‘t mind the answer to that question as well. All those supposed repairs done under the watch of the previous council I’m afraid, and hopefully not impinged on by the #formerpowermadmayors (I still love saying that)  stadium agenda. I guess we will never know but it is nice that the thousands of Liverpool women (mainly young women) netball players will participate in and attract a good number of visitors to our local businesses.

This is just the tip of the council minutes and I will leave it to you to have a closer look if you are interested.  http://liverpool.infocouncil.biz/Open/2016/12/CO_20161214_MIN_309.PDF

What I would like to do however is thank all our fabulous staff for their diligence and commitment throughout the year, thank them for their efforts and wish you and all of them a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous New Year. A few have left over the year and a couple will not be returning next year, some for babies others for different reasons and I wish them well.

I may not  have written as often as I should this year, be it  busy with elections etc, or saddened we’ve lost friends and I have been a little remiss in recognising efforts and achievements however we have the most amazing city, the people are second to none and we live harmoniously in good cheer and respect. I look forward to spending time with you all in the New Year and wish you safe and happy holidays. (Reserving the right to pop back in if there is something I need to share, ie a submission due on the 21st)

As always these are my personal opinions, based only on what I’ve heard and seen myself, if you have a different perspective or view, please share it and I will post it here. The more people sharing information the better imo and I would be the first to post it here if more detailed or accurate information were made available.

Merry Christmas from all of mine to all of yours.

 

Sign off