Category Archives: Blog post

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

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.


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.

Inner West declared second worst-performing merged council in NSW

The NSW government’s controversial council merger policy is in crisis, with the 20 amalgamated councils losing $1.03 billion in three years and ratepayers facing hikes in rates and cuts in services.

The second worst-performing council in NSW was Inner West Council, formed from the merger of Marrickville, Leichhardt and Ashfield councils, which has lost the equivalent of $124 million since the merger under the leadership of Labor Councillors.

The amalgamation has meant merging three different systems for rates, library services, swimming pools and gyms, waste collection, street cleaning, fees and charges for sports grounds, and computer systems.

The Council has also churned through three CEOs in four years. Greens Councillors have called for more transparency over the departure of the latest CEO and any separation payment that may have been paid, see here.

Read the full story in the Sydney Morning Herald here.

Harmonisation of Rates

As a result of the forced amalgamation of the former Marrickville, Ashfield and Leichhardt Councils policies and services from garbage to planning and rates are required by the NSW Government to be the same.

For a range of reasons that means that those of us who live in the former Marrickville local government area will all be paying more for rates, whereas residents in the former Ashfield and Leichardt will be paying less.

The total amount of rates collected by Council will not increase, and nor will services. It’s difficult not to wonder what would have happened in the former Marrickville and Leichhardt Councils would have legally challenged the amalgamations as was done successfully by a number of Liberal dominated Councils in the eastern suburbs and North Shore.  The legal challenge was supported by Greens Councilors on both former Councils, but opposed by Labor, Liberal and independent Councillors.

I successfully moved an amendment at last night’s meeting that Council information will show the dollar increase in rates for the bottom, middle and top rates so residents can see the impact of the rates rise for our area. The news rates structure will be on exhibition soon on the Inner West Council website at

By Clr Colin Hesse

Inner West council chooses housing over heritage

A majority of Inner West Councillors have voted to oppose heritage listing of the former Church of Christ building in Illawarra Road Marrickville, ignoring the independent heritage report that recommended the listing, the 63% of respondents to the exhibition of the proposal to list, and support from the Marrickville Heritage Society. 

While it is just one block in one suburb, Marrickville Councillor Colin Hesse has raised concern that the mechanics and politics of the decision has wider significance in a city where housing affordability is a key challenge for all levels of government.According to the Heritage Society this will be the third former Church in Marrickville demolished in recent years.

Councillors opposing listing argued that because the site was proposed to be used for social housing (under the Boarding Housing provisions of NSW Planning legislation) that this was a greater good.

Greens Councillors have consistently sought pro-social housing policies from Council, and from time to time we’ve been successful, but not at the expense of our valuable and limited heritage.

The long running crisis in housing is a direct result of Federal and State Government policies, not local government. The absence of a capital gains tax over the last thirty-five years of so has seen housing become a commodity rather than a need, and similarly negative gearing has promoted housing speculation.

If the NSW Government wished to it could simply mandate that housing should not be left vacant from more than 6 months, and if it did so there would be an immediate fall in rents as the many tens of thousands of vacant homes in this city came onto the rental market. While overseeing a speculative housing market, State and Federal Governments have failed to provide social housing for the many millions among us who cannot afford to buy, and for the many who struggle to pay rent.

Councillors supporting heritage listing were ClrColin Hesse and fellow Greens Clrs Louise Steer and Marghanita Da Cruz, Labor Clr Lucille McKenna and Independent Clrs Pauline Lockie and John Stamolis. Clrs Iskandar (Labor) and Porteous (Greens) were absent.

Read the full story including comments from Greens Councillors Tom Kiat, Colin Hesse and Marghanita da Cruz in the Sydney Morning Herald here.

By Clr Colin Hesse

Council CEO Resigns, Greens call for transparency over secret arrangements

Inner West Council chief executive Michael Deegan has resigned amid a breakdown in the relationship between the former Infrastructure Australia boss and elected officials.

Marrickville Greens Councillor Colin Hesse has complained that the circumstances of Mr Deegan’s departure remained largely under a cloud following secret council discussions and no public explanation.

“The Greens believe that the decision making should be as transparent and accountable as possible. This secret arrangement is the opposite of that,” Cr Hesse said.

Read the full story in the Sydney Morning Herald here.


Marrickville named in top 10 coolest global suburbs

Marrickville has been named among the 10 coolest neighbourhoods in the world by Time Out.

The neighbourhoods stand among giants like Esquerra de l’Eixample in Barcelona, Downtown LA and Sham Shui Po in Hong Kong according to the rankings devised by a survey of 38,000 city dwellers, and this year being stuck at home for the pandemic played a part in the rankings.

Read the full story here.

Two Chaps Cafe in Marrickville


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