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. ūüė¶

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


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


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. ūüė¶

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


Well that was an event

October 14, 2016

Signe Westerberg Headshots (38 of 102)Wednesday  was the first council meeting of a new 4 year term of council. At least from the get go things looked like they were  going to be  interesting. There may be some new faces and some new ideas however some of the old bad habits persisted

From what would or could have been a fairly innocuous/standard meeting for the most part it began with a little left over poor behaviour from Cllr Hadchiti a bit of one upmanship one might say. The ever zealousness of the newbies and the stubborn left overs from the previous past were on show from the beginning, right up to the calling for division.

It will take a while as new councillors learn the tricks and tips for stealing proposals, the few liberal leftovers became masters at this in the previous term even though they don’t like it now it’s being done to them.

I tweeted throughout the meeting and managed to stir the eyre of one of the new councillors who didn’t like the hashtag she’d been assigned. While I’d like to take all the credit, even when waiting outside while the confidence motions were in play, I was being asked about her aggressive confrontation by other members of the gallery her saw her pointing her phone at me, the same term was used over and over. ¬†Clearly as time goes by another perhaps even more appropriate tag will become evident ¬†but in a gesture of goodwill¬†I advised her that I would retire it so as not to offend. That said, my quote that the previous Mayor had stepped down in order to spend more time with his family, was not something I made up, it was in the press, he announced it in council so the while the hashtags may still be up for debate, his planning to spend more time with his family was more than accurate.

Anyway, there is more to council than a councillor spending her time reading my tweets while supposedly acting as a councillor defending the rights, needs and passions of the community. Mayor Waller resumed the role easily and as in the past fairly from what I could tell. For council to work effectively the councillors need to focus on what is in the communities best interests and not their own and only time will tell if this is how it pans out.

There were as always a number of items covered under confidentiality and unfortunately when we were called back in a number of the issues were already plowed through and we weren’t about to hear the results. It is well clear that I don’t like issues removed from the public glaze however I am of the belief that with a little diligence, care and respect the community can be included on important issues such as sourcing of services. All should be available today when the transcript is made public on the council website.

Listening as one new Councillor undertook the reassignment of committees, I christened it the “Balloot” as this is exactly what he did over the past couple of years and a way to completely dominate the councilors attendance on committees, only this time leaving the Liberal Councillors out of much as opposed to the past where the Labor Councillors were left out. In fairness in this instance there wasn’t a complete exclusion as in the past and if everyone actually shows up we may see a reasonable balance in attendance. The amendment that all councillors could attend and have voting privileges is and should always have been the case and is appropriate.

It was nice to catch up with a number of members of the community and a big thanks to Paul for bringing back some of my corflutes from the election. ¬†As the numbers stand now there will or could be a clear majority on many issues, however we’ve seen those alliances move in the past and only time will tell. Congrats to Ali Karnib who finally, after many many attempts was declared the Deputy Mayor, it will be interesting if and when he is called upon to chair the meeting as he is very well known for his lack of conversation and discussion throughout the past 8 years, so much so at the last of the previous council meetings Cllr Hadchiti voiced his desire ¬†to support whatever it was Ali was talking about simply because he’d finally spoken out on something LOL.

We have a  long way to go, we will have to watch closely as the councillors settle into their new roles, the balance of some younger voices could be a good thing, especially if they temper their passion with a good ability to learn from those who went before them, especially as none of them had been regular attendees in the past. Now the big task of recruiting a new CEO or confirming this acting one if he applies. Michael has been a fair and even handed acting CEO from what I have seen and I wish him well in whatever he chooses to do, be that step back into his previous role, move on or even apply.  I had heard that Propel had been on the confidential part of the proceedings however for now I am not privy to the outcome, when and if I hear more I will most certainly share.

Onward and upward, 4 years goes pretty fast and a lot can be achieved or messed up so keep watching this space, I will be back in the rhythm of writing more regularly fairly quickly, however it has been nice to have a bit of a break. As always these are my opinions and views, if yours differs don’t hesitate to let me know and I will share them here for one and all to see.

 

Till next time…

 

Sign off