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…

 


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


Submission Liverpool CBD DCP

December 6, 2016

Signe 2016 outdoorsHi all, I know I am posting this after the close of submission, however I do believe if you are quick you will still have your views considered.

 

I will post my submission here, sadly there are so many things one could comment on but time and reality have to show in my lack of brevity on even only a few: click here or on the submissions page.

 

Sign off


Submission re Georges River Precinct

December 2, 2016

Hi all,

 

I have finally finished one of the submissions to council due on Monday. I will add the link here and the whole document on the submissions page. I accept there are parts of it that are aspirational, hopeful even but in my opinion if we don’t ask we won’t get. I truly believe that while development and providing housing is essential as our city grows however it has to be more than how many humans we can push into every square metre of residential space. Of course as always you might have different views and that’s fabulous, even better if you share them here others can see your thoughts as well and maybe consider putting in a submission of their own     click.Here

Just for the record although I’ve suggested 30 story building limit, I’d personally prefer lower, however the precedent has been set  in LIverpool already so creating an issue where the Land and Environment Council ends up making all our decisions isn’t desireable either…. so I’ve compromised. 😦

there is another due on Monday and with a little luck and timing I’ll get that done and posted as well.

 

have a good weekend

 

Sign off


Council meeting

November 24, 2016

Signe Westerberg Headshots FAV (26 of 102)Where to begin, First I guess is the behaviour of our councillors has improved markedly, seems removing the chief procrastinators worked. Thanks to those who didn’t endorse them I guess!
Councillor Balloot thankfully removed his ridiculous proposal to drug test all Liverpool Council staff and councillors. Some of the newer councillors will need to do some research when it comes to issues that are brought back for discussion, sadly none of the new members of council attended prior to their ascension into council and last night showed how out of touch some of them were in relation to issues that have been addressed on several occasions. This is not new of course, many of those seeking your votes never bother to actually attend council meetings prior to wanting to be councillors and the trend for them to forget council exists once they lose their seats is also the norm, Former Cllrs, Mannoun, Ristevski, Gillani, Napolitano, Lucas, etc etc no longer attend on a regular basis if at all. A couple have shown up once or twice, but the majority walk away like they never cared anyway.  In most cases this is actually good news in my opinion and clearly life does go on.

There was a couple of issues that are worthy of note: The passing of David Pack, a long time contributor to all things Liverpool, 14 –yep 14 matters of confidence. The voluntary Planning Approval allowing retrospective adjustment of DA’s by buying out council. A contribution of $230,000 from Lateral estate (Skyhaus) to go towards Collingwood House renovations.  While I am supportive of contributions to things of such import as Collingwood House, I am as I have mentioned numerous times not happy that for a few dollars changes can be made to a DA that significantly change to height/character/impact of a development after such changes have actually been made. This building was approved at 28 Stories, ridiculous as is, and basically for $230,000 they can add 23 more apartments and 3 more stories. Cheap if you consider 23 apartments at let’s guess $650,000 a piece… cheap cheap don’t’ you think? Please note I’m guessing the cost of the apartments, lets face it, the views would be something to pay for I can imagine and I could be well off the mark, but the point remains. Then to have Cllr Rhodes suggest we should use that lousy VPA to fix the issues the building itself creates is a stretch too far. Seriously, we should pay for their mistakes????? come on let’s get real and those impacts on surrounding homes, streets etc etc $230,000 is a drop in the bucket.  If we as a council have not considered all those issues in the planning stages we have some serious issues on council imo and I’ll be damned if I think we residents through any contribution should be left to pick up the tab.

Mayor Waller went to considerable length to advise why she feels it inappropriate for the chair to comment on issues before council, while I think the formerpowermadmayor had waaay to much to say, she got elected as a representative of the people and the occasional comment when warranted is in my view appropriate. That said Wendy did only stand for the chair position so perhaps she didn’t want to be in a position to comment… either way she does zoom through the agenda, sometimes a bit too fast. Many in the gallery struggle to keep up and worse some of the councillors do to. It would be nice if she slowed down the actual yays/no’s a little so the gallery could see who actually voted which way before on to a new topic.

The link to the business papers is below, a couple of things that are really important I’d like to highlight. There are three major planning proposals/master plans on exhibition at the moment, two about the River developments and the other the CBD. As it is your rates that will eventually be used to support/maintain/fix issues relating to these major projects I can only stress the importance of your comments and submissions. I will be working on my submissions in the coming week or so and will post them here. Please consider having a close look at what is on exhibition at the moment and make comment. You can do this simply by emailing your views, doing the surveys’ through Liverpool Listens or write your views and post them to council. This doesn’t have to be a huge or lengthy detailed submission, dot points will do, just have your views heard. Keep in mind the proposal to have 40 story buildings on the old Cablemakers site is just one to consider and there are so many more, please take the time to have a look, comment and be heard.

 

Minutes of last nights meeting should be online sometime tomorrow…

As always if your views differ I’m happy to put them up here for all to see.  Your opinions are as valid as mine so I encourage you to use this opportunity to get yours across.

 

til next time

 

Sign off

 

http://liverpool.infocouncil.biz/Open/2016/11/CO_20161123_AGN_308_AT.PDF


Time to take stock

November 9, 2016
Signe Westerberg HeadshotsFAV  (78 of 102)I’ve decided that it’s time to turn on some classy music, sit back, thank the gods/goddesses I’m not in the US and look at what we all witnessed today. It’s probably more than what we witnessed tonight but what we’ve been watching for many months now.
Like many I dismissed Donald Trump as the lunatic I think he really is, without taking time to consider that the system is simply failing the people, the workers and the children. Sadly the same is happening here. Those in most need are the ones the middle to right of politics ignores the loudest, they are yelled at, called leaners, reduced to beggars if they cannot support their children satisfactorily. Made feel less. All the while we are the ones who sit back throwing verbal stones of disgust at what our own government is doing to refugees in Nauru and on Manus. I wanted to throw things at the television today when Pauline Hanson began singing the praise of the hate and disunity that has engulfed the US, you know the land of the free, home of the brave etc etc and today it moved closer imo to Nazi Germany than the supposed land of hope and freedom. Not unlike Germany of the day, to be in politics in the US it takes money, lots of it, Hitler was a wealthy man, who like many wanted more and more and those who are left to pay the price and while I’m not suggesting the US is about to install gas chambers, no one who voted for Hitler in the beginning would have dreamt he would eventually do this in order to fulfil his personal desires, not only for wealth but for sovereignty, ideology and hate.
 
So the question is what can I learn from this travesty? What are the lessons we need to learn and what can we do to ensure that our people aren’t left one day facing the same uncertainty and fear that must be touching many of the people of the US tonight. I know this sounds melodramatic and perhaps a little over the top but we have politicians who could more easily than you think, walk the same line, tread the same path and in doing so lead us to the same sorts of  distress and uncertainty.
I read lots today, one thing that resonated with me was a discussion on FaceBook regarding the types of politicians and the direction our own politics is heading. this of course for me is standard reading to a point, I’m what one couldn’t deny politically active perhaps even obsessed. I have stood a number of times to represent my community and I have to admit in the back of my mind I’ve been concerned that perhaps I didn’t’ come from the right situation, not educated enough, certainly not rich enough and it occurs to me, maybe the ordinary, working class person like me is exactly what we need in politics… we’re losing the politicians that were the beginning of the Labor party, the workers, those who knew and understood the needs of their fellow workers, what it was like to struggle at times to make ends meet and let’s face it neither Clinton nor Trump would have a clue, not Turnbull, Abbott and the list goes on and on. Privilege begets privilege and we need more people representing us that actually live the same lives as we do, they know what unemployment feels like, what it’s like to have a sick kid and know that taking the time off work won’t bode well for our employments situation. The fear that removing Medicare and free health is not an inconvenience but a tragedy, a genuine worry. I think we can to a point dismiss those who might fit the bill but sit on the back benches of parliament doing as the party machine says, not willing to stir the pot, expect and demand more.  I’m proud to say my local group is truly representative of today’s community, we have people from all walks of life, people just like you and me who live day to day trying to ensure the future for their families is better than theirs. Many of us are genuinely concerned for the future we are leaving our kids and grandkids and we are working towards making that better. ( all the while being labelled the loony )  The good news is we’re going keep going, we are going to continue to raise the bar in politics, we unlike the old parties have a structure that is guided by the membership not those in ‘power’ so we’re always being held to account. I’m sure we will have many conversations over the coming days, weeks, months as we watch the US become whatever it is destined to become with such a huge change in leadership. It is however the lessons we learn that will separate us.
To digress before I go, today I attended a council advisory meeting at the Library that encourages us as a community to engage in the changes, proposed in the DCP (Development control plan) for the CBD and I encourage everyone to have a look at that and the proposed plan for the Georges River … it’s important, and we really need to speak up, after all the costs of the proposed developments have to be paid for and while Liverpool Council’s  architect attempted to assure me we have pegged rates, the reality is that if our rates are redirected to remedy situations or developments we do so by taking them from somewhere else like services and upkeep.
Back to my music, reading and preparing the submissions to council I need done. If of course your opinion about today’s post or any differs from mine, let me know, better still comment, share your views, your feelings on today’s outcome etc.
Sign off