Inner West Council meeting Update – 8 December

Tempe Traffic 

Last year the Eastern Area Planning Panel (Three people appointed by the Minister for Planning, and two Councillors, Macri and Iskandar) approved a new Bunnings on the Princes Highway just south of IKEA. Acces to and from the site is from one narrow street, Smith Street, with traffic lights to the Princes Highway. The wait is long at the traffic lights.
It has been proposed that rather than traffic turning right or left from Smith Street onto the Highway, that traffic be allowed to drive straight into Union Street Tempe. Union Street, typical of many local streets is narrow, and leads directly to Tempe Public School. Clr Macri and I have booth been working with local residents on traffic management issues, and I seconded Clr Macri’s Notice of Motion that Local Area Traffic Management examine only allowing the right or left turn into the Princes Highway from Smith Street. 
That this awful situation has come about is primarily due to the Planning Laws that give precedence to big business, and little weight to local residents. That we have a planning decision making body that is ultimately not accountable to the community is equally appalling. 
One could add that while acknowledging that hardware barns such as Bunnings are popular, the market domination of Bunnings is now at the stage of effective monopoly, and that “lower prices” in the long run are hardly likely.

Rates Harmonisation

As mentioned in earlier reports, rates have to equalized across the amalgamated Inner West Council. This means that rates for residents of the former Marrickville Local Government Area will rise significantly. The new rates structure is open for public exhibition very soon until the 7th of February. Do make your comments on the Council website. 

General Manager’s financial delegations

The Greens were not successful in reducing the delegation of the General Manager. The delegation remains at $1.5 million. This means that any contract of expenditure of up to $1.5m does not automatically come to Councillors for review. While The Greens would have preferred a much lower limit of $250,000, we agreed to support a lower limit of $500,000. Sadly this was not supported, with Labor and Clr’s Macri and Lockie supporting the higher limit.
Our concern is that while advice of expenditure is available through the website, that the presence of the expenditure on the Council Meeting Business paper offers greater awareness, and thus transparency. I’m pleased to say that I have every confidence in the probity of Council staff, but the question should more properly be oversight of expenditure by the community’s elected representatives.

Leichhardt Skate Park

There’s been a lot of fairly sensationalist media coverage of the proposed skate park, and much of it not particularly accurate. Last night’s Council meeting supported the following motion, the intent of which is to review the skate park with a view to maintaining as many trees as possible, and to ensure community input on the skate park. This motion was supported by myself and my Greens colleagues Clrs Porteous, Steer and Kiat, Labor Councillors and Clr Lockie. 

“That the Plan of Management for Leichhardt Park be readopted by council with the requirement that the development assessment of the Skate Park is assessed to the same level as a Development Application. This assessment will require that the environmental assessment and public participation for the skate park assessment must be at least the same as the requirements for a Part 4 Development Application, therefore ensuring the community is consulted and able to make submissions. The location of the Skate Park should be retained in Leichhardt Park.”

Bus shelter contract 

Council considered the contract for bus shelter advertising, and it was really pleasing that Greens Councillor Tom Kiat’s motion that Council plan a long term exit from bus shelter advertising was supported. Bus shelters should properly be provided by the NSW Government, and our community is not improved by these public places being places of advertising. Advertising certainly does not enhance our quality of life. 

Ashfield Pool Shade Cloth

There’s been feedback that the new Ashfield Pool lacks outdoor shade areas, and Tom Kiat was succcesful in his amendment to expand shade cloth at the new pool.

Inner West Council communications with residents

Greens Councillor Marghanita Da Cruz was successful with her motion to increase the frequency and improve the content of the hard copy communication from Council, including an end to the communication being used as a platform for endless pictures of Councillors. 

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Marrickville Peace group Convenor Nick Deane spoke movingly about the importance of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and Council unanimously agree to support a letter being sent to the Prime Minister calling on the Australian Government to ratify the treaty. Given that 50 nations around the world have signed onto the treaty the treaty will come into force on the 22nd of January 2021. The Australian Government’s failure to endorse the treaty undermines the campaign to eliminate these weapons of terror from the world.

It’s been a long and difficult year for many in our community, around Australia and around the world, and through some good management and good luck we’re in a better position than most to meet the challenges of the years ahead.  I wish to recognize in particular everyone in this community who’ve been able to help to fight bushfires, those many health professionals who’ve worked so hard to keep us safe, and to all the essential workers, including Council staff who’ve kept us safe and serviced. Locally I’ve been inspired by the amazing work of the Food Pantry at the Addison Road Community Centre who’ve fed those left out and ignored by the Federal Government, particularly international students and refugees. 

The challenge of global warming remains paramount however, and it’s clear there needs to be urgent action by our governments to move promptly to a zero emissions society and world. This will only be achieved through a more equal society and global community, one that’s based on peace, non-violence and democracy.

Best wishes to everyone for a happier 2021,

Colin Hesse

Greens Councillor 
Midjuburi (Lillypilly) Marrickville Ward
Inner West Council