Category Archives: Blog post

De-merger for Inner West Council should happen before next council election

Marrickville Greens – Media Release

2 February 2017

Former Marrickville Greens Councillors have called for a de-merger of the Inner West Council to happen before the next council election due in September 2017, after the State Government indicated that the policy of forced amalgamations will be abandoned and recently amalgamated council areas could hold plebiscites to opt to de-merge back to their original constituent councils.

Former Greens Councillor for Marrickville and current Local Representative Advisory Committee Member, Max Phillips said: “The extensive consultation conducted by Marrickville Council prior to the amalgamation made it clear that the majority of residents were opposed to the amalgamation.”

“Given the amalgamation was forced on the community by the state government, there is no real need for a plebiscite to de-merge the council, but if one is required, then it should be conducted well before the next council elections to ensure the de-merger happens as soon as possible and a democratically elected council is established.

“The Administrator should freeze all work towards the amalgamation until the future of the council or councils is sorted out,”he said.

Former Greens Councillor for Marrickville and current Local Representative Advisory Committee Member, Melissa Brooks said: “It is a great pity that Labor, Liberal and Independent Councillors did not agree to the Greens proposal to hold a plebiscite prior to the amalgamation or pursue legal options more vigorously.

“The state government has been dishonest about its amalgamation process from the start, if they seriously want to repair the damage they should enable a de-merger to happen quickly and not delay until 2019 for nor good reason.”

Sylvie Ellsmore – Greens candidate for Sydney

Marrickville Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore is the preselected Greens Candidate for Sydney in the 2016 federal election.

You can find Sylvie on Facebook here. Visit the Greens for Sydney campaign website here. Read more

Council calls for stronger tenants’ rights

Post by Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore, Co-Chair of the Marrickville Council Affordable Housing Committee

I was proud earlier this month that Marrickville Council endorsed a detailed submission to the Residential Tenancies Act review, an important review of NSW’s key rental laws, developed through the Affordable Housing Committee.

The submission calls for a shakeup of current tenancy laws, to provide stronger rights and legal protection for tenants, including those living in share housing.

Read a copy of the submission HERE.

Council’s submission details the stark reality of the housing unaffordability crisis in the inner city and inner west, with an increasing number of people living in rental accommodation for the long term, rents continuing to rise much faster than CPI, and less than 1% of rental properties now considered ‘affordable’.

Council’s submission calls for an end to “no grounds” evictions – which would ensure that renters have a stronger right to stay in their homes, and there must be a valid reason for them to be evicted.

The current laws are not only unfair, but help drive up rental prices, because a landlord who wants to massively drive up the rent in one hit can simply kick out a tenant who doesn’t agree, and re-advertise at the higher rent.

For more information about the Greens work on housing affordability please see the campaign page.

MAKE A SUBMISSION TO THE COUNCIL BOUNDARY REVIEW HERE!

You are encouraged to support your local council and make a submission on the proposed amalgamation of Marrickville, Leichhardt and Ashfield Councils.

Click on this link to sign our sample submission and add your thoughts about the proposed amalgamation:

https://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/issue/save-marrickville-council/councilboundaryreviewsubmission/

Marrickville Council to be forcibly merged?

18 Dec 2015

The Baird Government has confirmed their plans for forced amalgamations of local councils across the state, in the face of growing community opposition.

According to the State Government’s plan, Marrickville Council will be merged with Ashfield and Leichhardt Councils. This is despite clear indications that residents in the Marrickville LGA do not want their Council to be merged and strong public statements by the Liberal Government before the election that they would not force amalgamations.

Member for Newtown Jenny Leong says:

“Residents expect good local representation. Under this plan the size of LGAs will increase dramatically, but the number of Councillors won’t. That will give residents less access to their Local Councillors, reducing the ability for local advocacy.

“Marrickville Council is known for delivering local services that cater to our community. We fear that those localised services, like Council run-childcare, community festivals – and the Magic Yellow Bus – are under threat.

“Our local community is known for being active and engaged. We know residents will not stay silent while the Baird Government attempts to take away their local council.

“Our office will be working with our Greens Councillors on Marrickville Council and residents to ensure that our message of “No Forced Amalgamations” is heard loud and clear at the public inquiry through the Boundaries Commission.”

Marrickville Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore says:

“Council has surveyed residents again and again about the proposed mergers, and every time the community has said no.  Residents want the services and jobs Marrickville Council provides protected.

“Marrickville Council is the second largest employer in the Local Government Area. The State Government’s agenda is about cutting jobs, shrinking the real size of Local Councils by forcing us to cut the services we provide and reducing ‘red tape’ for developers.

“It’s important that the Mayor and all Councillors on Marrickville Council stand strong and do not roll over, making it easy for the Baird Government to inflict this forced merger on our community.

“Local Councils should not be the plaything of the Liberal Government. The announcement of such a huge reform just before Christmas makes it clear that the Liberal Government understands this is a deeply unpopular reform, even within their own party.

“This fight is far from over. The Greens will continue to take a strong stand with local residents to say ‘Amalgamations No Way!’.”

For more information on today’s announcement and the NSW Greens’ response read this statement from Greens Local Government Spokesperson David Shoebridge.

Community groups’ use of halls protected

 

The Greens on Marrickville Council have defeated a push by conservative Councillors to increase fees for community groups and local not for profit groups who use Council’s community meeting rooms and town halls.

Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore said, “Marrickville Council currently has a policy of providing our community meeting rooms to local not for profit groups at a lower rate than commercial groups. Council also offers a limited number of fee waivers or free use of Council halls and spaces, using strict rules and an application process.

At the 1 December 2015 Council meeting Conservative Councillor Victor Macri, supported by Liberal Clr Rosana Tyler and business Independent Morris Hanna, unsuccessfully tried to overturn a Council decision to “… facilitate the use of [Council] town halls and community meeting rooms by local community groups and not for profits at minimal cost where possible [and] not increase fees …. without consultation with those groups that may be affected.”

Clr Ellsmore said, “Of course community groups and local not for profits are charged lower fees than commercial or out of area groups.

“We have had Council study after Council study[1] telling us local community and resident groups want more access to our town halls and meeting rooms, not less. The pressure on community groups has intensified over the last few years, with the State Government moving to charge commercial rents for use of its buildings, when previously it provided free or low cost access to community services.

“It is positive that the majority of the Councillors have rejected a suggestion of significant fee increases for not for profits last night.

“Council is currently investigating ways to attract more commercial users of our Town Halls – for local weddings and commercial events for example. Investigating these options will help Council raise some additional income. However, in doing this we cannot and must not push our local community & resident groups aside. Our Council halls should be for residents, first and foremost. They are community assets, and the community has a right to use them,” Clr Ellsmore said.

A copy of the hire fees for local not for profits is available on the Council website: http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/en/outandabout/venues-for-hire/community-venue-hire-fees/. Not for profit hirers are charged $42 per hour, with regular hirers charged a lower fee.

Hire fees are publicly advertised each year, and residents are invited to make submissions before fee structures are adopted. The current Council policy does not differentiate between types of not for profit groups – but groups which are local get priority. The definition of not for profit covers local bushcare groups, book clubs, community services, charities, local political groups, wine tasting societies, religious groups and more.

More information:                 Clr Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213

[1] See for example the “Recreation Needs Study” (2011) which found that access to small and medium sized meeting rooms was a key need in the community (available to download from http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/Documents/Marrickville%20Assets/recreation%20needs%20research%20strategic%20directions%20for%20marrickville%20report.pdf). See also the “Pressures Facing Local Community Services Organisations 2015” Report provided to Council on 17 November 2015, which found for the second year running that access to affordable premises in the Marrickville LGA was one of the most pressing issues facing local community services.

Marrickville Council Gender Equity Push

Women Councillors on Marrickville Council have stepped up the push for gender equity, with the establishment of a women’s committee and a range of other actions to promote gender equality and “unconscious bias”.

Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore said, “Local government is a very challenging environment for women Councillors and Council staff, particularly younger women.

“The motions passed at Marrickville Council at the November Council meeting commit us to not only be more active on issue affecting women in our community, such as domestic violence, and to be more actively working towards equity in Council staffing, but also address issues for our elected women Councillors. If we want politics to change, this is vitally important.

“Politics is often blokey and adversarial. However, unlike State and Federal Parliament, in Local Councils the bloke who decides to lose his temper and scream at you can be sitting less than a metre away. This behaviour is rarely pulled up by the chair of the meeting. We wouldn’t stand for it in another workplace, why is this kind of aggression accepted in politics?” Clr Ellsmore said.

Marrickville Greens Councillor Melissa Brooks has previously spoken out about bullying on Marrickville Council*. Clr Brooks said, “The behaviour of many Councillors is still a shock for people who witness Council meetings.

“Bad behaviour, aggression, heckling and yelling is normalised. And this behaviour is overwhelmingly driven by the male Councillors.

“If we want more women to run for Council, or for current women Councillors to think of running again, we have to seriously discuss these issues and take active steps to change the culture. It is sector-wide problem,” Clr Brooks said.

The measures were passed at the November Marrickville Council meeting with the support of Greens, Labor and the female Liberal Councillor. It was opposed by the two former conservative Mayors, Clr Mark Gardiner and Clr Victor Macri.

 

More information:       Clr Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213, Clr Melissa Brooks 0409 235 802

Click here to read the OPINION PIECE by Councillor Melissa Brooks “Time to end the male-dominated bullying on our councils”, April 29, 2014

A copy of the motion passed by Council is below.

At the last NSW Local Council elections (2012) only 27% of the elected representatives across the state were female. There was no increase in female representation since the last elections (2008). 1 in 3 (ie 33%) of the current Marrickville Councillors are women, and Marrickville has had two female Mayors (for a one year term each, one Green and one ALP). The current Deputy Mayor is Liberal Councillor Rosana Tyler.

The Greens are the only major political party in NSW to have achieved gender equality in elected representation- more than 50% of our Local Councillors in NSW are women and 50% of Greens NSW State MPs are women.

In terms of women’s employment and elected women Councillors, Marrickville Council has stronger gender equity than the average for Councils. A majority of staff are women, though only 1 of 6 current senior managers are female. Marrickville Council has previously had one female General Manager for a period. The measures passed aim to move to at least 50% gender equity in Council staffing including at senior/ management levels.

A copy of the report outlining the staffing statistics can be found on the 17 November Council meeting papers at http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/en/council/elected-council/business-papers/.

At a NSW state level, the heckling and abuse targeted at the (female dominated) Greens Council contingent at a 2014 NSW Local Government Conference led to the Australian Local Government Women’s Association to write to the President of Local Government NSW “seeking confirmation that the heckling and bullying behaviour (towards some of the delegates) that occurred at last year’s conference 2014 and that the Code of Conduct is fairly applied and delegates be treated with respect by the Chair.”

 

 

**MOTION PASSED 17 NOVEMBER 2015, MARRICKVILLE COUNCIL

 

C1115 Item 13 50:50 VISION – COUNCILS FOR GENDER EQUALITY PROGRAM – FURTHER INFORMATION

 

Motion: (Brooks/Ellsmore)

 

  1. THAT Council endorses the final program for activities to promote gender equity contained in this report with the following additions:

 

  1. The establishment of a Marrickville Council Women’s Committee. The committee is to include: co-chairs or rotating chairs – with the positions to be held by elected women Councillors; two or more community representatives; and at least one female representative of staff. The Terms of Reference for the committee will include the promotion of gender equity in the civil, civic and political life of the Marrickville LGA and within Marrickville Council;

 

  1. Council to include in its standard reporting for gender equality in staffing measures of opportunities for women staff to undertake higher duties or secondments, including part-time staff; and

 

  1. THAT Council receive a further report recommending detailed Terms of Reference and membership of the Women’s Committee, to be considered at a Council meeting in the first quarter of 2016.

 

Gender 20:20 Program actions from the report, $15,000 budget:

 

  1. Unconscious Bias Program (for Councillors and staff)

 

  1. Supervision – gender issues (course in cooperation with Federal Workplace Gender Equality Agency)

 

  1. Female Speakers Program “Lunch and Learn” as well as Breakfast sessions led by women will be held monthly on a range of topics and areas of expertise (with neighbouring Councils)

 

  1. 5 year career plan group (Council staff)

 

Motion Carried

For Motion: Councillors Barbar, Brooks, Ellsmore, Iskandar, Leary, Phillips, Tyler and Woods

Against Motion: Councillors Gardiner and Macri Absent: Councillor Hanna

 

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