my two most recent submissions to council

July 28, 2017

I have been busy writing submissions and numerous other things, however one I didn’t post in the hope it wouldn’t fore warn some councillors that the Nursery Mattered… alas they voted down to actually supply the nursery and eco centre we  were promised when first asked to accept an environment levy. Alas I shouldn’t be surprised and am always hopeful that we can as a Council stick to our word to our community.  This has now happened on two major occasions, first when we were surveyed about the Special Rate Variation and now on the outcome from the Environment Levy you and I all pay to have our precious environment cared for. in the cast of the nursery, what was worst for me is  that a non resident councillor spoke so vehemently against it based on one attendance at a meeting that a number of us had been attending and supporting for 8-10 years.

So here are my last two submissions, sadly mine was the only one received by council for the Operations and delivery program draft and as today is the last day for the community halls one I can only hope I am not the only person attempting to save our community halls from sale or as they’re calling it rationalisation.

The Facilities submission is due today, I emailed mine last night and am hopeful we can achieve a good outcome on saving our halls. If you’ve not had a chance to look at it, log onto Liverpool LIstens, I know they will accept a late submission if you take the time to get one in. With the changes to Section 94 (developer) contributions, money from there can NO LONGER be used to build community centres and the like, so future buildings will all have to come from grants and rates. Some of our older buildings are on prime real estate and the reality that once they are sold they are gone forever should raise some interest.

here they are:

submission re council facilities 27.729.5.17

Delivery and Operational budget submission

Don’t forget the National Tree day planting is at Brownes Farm in Hoxton Park this sunday, council always throws a good BBQ and entertainment for the kids, so come along, plant a tree or three and have a lovely day out in what is being promised a pretty spectacular 26 degree day.

 

See you there


Honouring agreements or being opportunist

June 29, 2017

I did the unprecedented thing last night, I walked out of council making the comment as I went that the money councillors spend is NOT THEIR OWN.  I know I say this often about council, state and Federal politicians because the belief they own our money is a furphy, while they might have care and control in the day to day, it’s not their money and there is a degree of honour attached to all things we take to the community and act upon. While there are numerous times over the past years things have been changed without the support or knowledge of the community two major items spring to mind here in Liverpool.

First is the promise that was made when we were being asked as a community to agree to the special rate variation. I attended all the community information sessions relating to this issue and was swayed by the promise that with the SRV we would not be borrowing money, that the SRV would fill the void. One councillor at the time said : over my dead body will this be extended or continued” clearly he’s still alive and happy to live in the knowledge he lied (or simply forgot) to the community who trusted him to stand by his word. Then again he was not alone and we all know that little nugget was not of gold as we might have expected but a load of “sh*t” as it turned out. Onto the second most recent, the one that had me leave council last night. Again this is something I’ve written about before, I stand passionately as your representative on the Environmental Advisory Committee and have lobbied long and hard that what was promised in the initial request to apply an environment levy was delivered. There will always be people who have a differing view of what should and should not happen in  council, lord knows we’ve had more than one delay in implementing promised outcomes but on this I stand firm. We said we would provide to the community and environmental centre and community nursery as part of the funds collected… we have the money set aside. However there have been those, interestingly the same person as I mentioned above, who have continually and deliberately stymied the delivery of the promised centre, time and time again. To be clear, there have been sites selected, there is money to build and set up what can and would have been a self funding cost neutral centre over time. You have already paid for it from your enviro levy.  We have engaged consultants who, while pointing out some minor overcomable concerns endorsed  the building…. UNTIL our former CEO, saw the bucket of money and wanted it absorbed into general funds and commissioned ANOTHER consultant report that interestingly highlighted some other option as an outcome. The old expression money can buy any opinion you want may be truer than I had ever thought or perhaps its interpretation, I guess I’ll never know. There are only two community reps who have been on the EAC for the entire time. Last night after attending 1 (ONE) meeting new councillor Rhodes spoke in council as the ‘authority opinion’ against the centre… while others said they’d never heard of a successful nursery, I suggest they look at Sutherland council and Wollondilly, Sutherland Council recently issued a video singing the praise of theirs (link below).  Cllr Harle used his chairpersons vote to break the tie and  support  some of the members on the floodplain committee- not the EAC but now combined committee (interestingly led by the same bloke as above) to oppose as he has always done, spending the money as was initially promised. The vote was 7 for and 7 against with Cllr Harles casting vote going twice to the negative.

OK to be clear this rant is NOT ABOUT A NURSERY, I am not a gardener, I am passionate about the environment and I am even more passionate that integrity and honour is upheld and if WE PROMISE AN ENVIRO/NURSERY WE NEED TO DELIVER A NURSERY/ENVIRO CENTRE. I accept that all people concerned are entitled to different opinions, I am however also very clear in that what we promise we need to deliver on all things great and small. Clearly there are going to be and were differing views on this, I respect that.

My second big issue of the day:

I am also aware many of you will be hearing the media conversations in relation to the Greens, the party I represent locally and think it is probably worth explaining what the media is not. I do this as an individual, not the convenor/spokesperson of our local group

  1. Greens members join a state party, there is no Federal membership to my knowledge just an affiliation of all groups to the greater.
  2. Greens NSW has a strong leaning towards equity and supporting our 4 pillars. (Listed below)
  3. Greens NSW expect our representatives on all levels of Governance to represent the views of the membership/therefore their voters and supporters, they don’t have conscience votes and they are spokespeople not decision makers.
  4. Decisions they need to represent are debated throughout the membership before becoming policy, we meet regularly to hammer out our positions and reach consensus. Like sausage making the process isn’t always pretty but the outcome superb.
  5. Greens NSW discussed the potential shortfalls for local schools on the Gonski 2.0 and made it clear, many of us directly to all our Fed Senators and most certainly to our state senator that we did not support Gonski 2.0 (Seriously too many of our local public schools were going to be significantly worse off under the Turnbull changes)
  6. Our senator acted in direct support of the membership decision.
  7. there are calls for the National Greens to look closely at the decision to stand our State senator down, (basically not include her in discussions in the party room) as our convenors have indicated publicly we don’t see it in correlation with our constitution.
  8. There are comments that this is the NSW Greens or the Greens nationally imploding, this is not true, I have witnessed unprecedented support for our Senator and condemnation of the public outburst and leaking that has allowed what could have been discussed civilly and sorted out as a grab for media and power. Worth noting those who are doing the leaking are getting off scot free.
  9. Most people who have supported the Greens over time, have done so because we stick to our principled and environmentally focused agenda. The one we publicise and advertise as we advocate. We carefully evaluate the impacts on the greater population and always aim to bring better outcomes for the majority not the few.
  10. Equity is a right, education should be readily available for all and not based on your ability to pay more.

In summary, when you elect an MP or a Senator, it is not unreasonable to expect that they (regardless of the party) represent the needs of the people who elect them, that is the state from which they come and are elected to represent. If more senators did this, again regardless of the party, would we be seeing the Great Barrier Reef being destroyed, would we be seeing wholesale destruction of our forests, would we be seeing massive foreign ownership, would we see coal mining growing instead of renewable energy options etc etc ? From what I have observed Mr Brown has had a long standing personal issue with our Ms Rhiannon, he regularly throws comments that incite and cause a media storm, sadly his once respected view is becoming nothing more than a bitter old man who doesn’t like to play in the sandpit anymore. Is he seeking relevance? who knows but his outdated and sad attempts are not doing him or the party any good.

Of course all these views are mine, based on what I have witnessed myself, you are free to disagree, comment even, I’ll print it here as you write it. I welcome discussion, even that of those who have a completely different view and I respect differences as long as they are debated with respect and goodwill. Clearly my opinions are just that, I’m sure others will have their own. I bear no ill will to those with whom I disagree, only that all opinions should be aired freely for others to make up their own minds.

As always, send your views, add a comment or voice your concerns… Clearly I do, so am happy to ensure you have a platform to do likewise.

 

 

 

 

The Four Pillars of the NSW Greens:

Ecological sustainability | Social equality and economic justice | Grassroots democracy | Peace, nonviolence and disarmament

 

Sutherland council video 7/6/17 on Sutherland council Facebook page.

In this week’s Mayoral Message Mayor Carmelo Pesce visited our Native Plant Nursery to chat to Bushcare Coordinator Jonathan Watson and his staff about the importance of native plants for our local environment and ways in which the community can contribute.

Look out for your native plant voucher which entitles you to two free tube stock each year in your July rates notice.

For more information on Sutherland Shire Bushcare and how to become a volunteer visit bit.ly/2sQGx7D


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