Inner West Council meeting UPDATE 24 Nov

By Clr Colin Hesse

Globe Wilkins Pre-School

Many of you will be aware that Council has for many years run the award winning Globe Wilkins Pre-School at Wilkins Public School. Increasing population pressures on space at Wilkins Public School have reached a crisis point. Following a fantastic campaign by parents at the pre-school the NSW Minister for Education visited last year and agreed to construct a new pre-school building on-site. More recently the community has become aware that the NSW Dept. of Education is requiring a tender process for the operation of the pre-school.

What’s really clear is that it’s the quality education that parents want, not simply any pre-school built on site.

Thank you to Greens Clr Tom Kiat and Labor Clr Anna York for bringing a motion to Council last night that calls on the NSW Government to dispense with the tender, and to allow Council to continue to deliver the best pre-school education in NSW. A big thank you too to the parents who’ve never given up. You make a huge difference, and without you I’m sure the service would be lost. It would be wrong to forget the staff too, without whose work our community would not be campaigning for this pre-school.

Thanks also to Greens education spokesperson David Shoebridge for asking the Minister for Education in Parliament to commit to the Council run Globe Wilkins service, and for the ongoing advocacy of Labor Member for Summer Hill, Jo Haylen, and Greens Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong.

I regret that once again Clr Macri and Clr Passas argued that the service could “not be afforded.”

The pressures of development and an increasing population featured in two of the more local matters before last night’s Council meeting.

St Peters

The first, the amended Development Control Plan for Precinct 75 in St Peters, the former Taubman’s paint factory site, has had no support from residents or Council staff, and yet was approved for development by the NSW Government.

The site, between Edith and Mary Sts, and backing onto Roberts St, has been approved for mixed residential and business. The Development Control Plan gives more precise guidelines to the developers, however Council staff must develop these guidelines within existing NSW Government planning legislation.

This means, for example, that despite the NSW Government’s planning bodies arguing for 40% green space for Sydney, this site will have 15%. That is the maximum Council can mandate.

Thank you to St Peters resident Janet Dandy-Ward for speaking last night, and for all the residents who’ve commented or emailed. Council supported the DCP as a protection against a worse outcome, but there’s no doubt the planning system in NSW gives little protection for existing residents, nor do those laws ensure quality housing that will meet the needs of our changing environment or build toward a fairer society.

Dulwich Hill

For more than twenty years Dulwich High School and Marrickville (now Inner West) Council had an agreement to share what is known as the Graham Green. During school hours the field has been locked off for the enjoyment of school students, and after school hours the school is locked off from the field to allow residents of all ages to play, meet or simply enjoy some time in a green space.

The growing population of our area has seen students numbers increase, and with the failure of successive NSW Government’s to provide timely infrastructure the school has run out of class rooms. At the beginning of the year it became apparent that the school would need to place at least one demountable classroom on the green.

With security requirements the school argues that green must be locked off permanently to the public.

With a view to a constructive engagement between local and state government I moved, in consultation with local residents, that Council discuss redeveloping the former library site and other Council buildings, with the Dept. of Education. The ask was that the NSW Government build a new community hall in Seaview Street, and that the airspace above be used to construct new classrooms. This would also require the NSW Government to remove the demountable classroom as soon as possible from the Graham Green, returning open space to the students of the High School and the community. Labor Clr Mark Drury moved in place of my motion that Council fully examine legal avenues around the Green at this time, and I agreed to defer my motion. I seconded Clr Drury’s motion and it was passed unanimously.

Racism Not Welcome Campaign

The Inner West Multicultural Network, of which Inner West Council is a member, has developed a campaign that seeks to get the message out that “Racism is Not Welcome.” 

Thanks to Clr Pauline Lockie who bought this motion to Council on behalf of the campaign, and who spoke powerfully about her own harsh experiences of racism growing up in NSW.

As a result of the motion we’ll see street signs installed across the local government area featuring the words “Racism Not Welcome.” This is an invitation and a reminder that we should all be conscious that racism is unacceptable, and that we all have a role in reducing racism in our society.

Thanks to the speakers to Council; Dr Juliana Jamaluddin, Kween G and Craig Foster, and to all the fine folk at the Addison Road Community Centre for your involvement. You are changing our world.

Budget

There are significant pressures on Council’s budget, not least the impact of Covid-19. Council is playing its part in stimulating the economy be undertaking various civil works including footpath upgrades and tree planting. 

There have been significant additional costs in the amalgamation of the three former Councils, but at this time those are not quantified.

GM Selection Panel

As reported in the media, the General Manager of Inner West Council resigned recently, and as required by the Local Government Act, Council is moving to select a new General Manager. There has bee some discussion in social media about the make-up of the panel, and while it’s problematic to go into any great detail about the panel what can be said is that the Act doesn’t specify whom the panel should comprise.  The new panel has one representative of each of the three political parties elected to Council, and one independent. It certainly does lack gender balance, and that’s not okay, however why that didn’t occur this time is related to the complications of individual Councillors personal lives and the internal discussions of the parties.

Bibs and bobs

Greens Councillor Tom Kiat’s motion seeking solar panels to be installed on top of the car park at Ashfield town centre was successful, and hopefully productive discussions will take place soon. Greens Councillor Rochelle Porteous also successfully moved that community consultation take place on the agreement under discussion between Transport for NSW and Council regarding the Western Harbour Tunnel construction and its effects on a number of community parks in the Balmain/Rozelle area.