Council slashes funds

A lobby group finds finance for childcare centres has been cut by $400,000

 FREEDOM of Information documents obtained by a childcare lobby group show Glen Eira Council has been stripping funding from childcare centres since 2006.

Save Local Childcare Coalition spokeswoman Bronwyn Burton said the documents show ‘‘the council has slashed a $500,000 investment in 2006/07 to $95,000 in 2009/10’’.

A petition to save the Elsternwick Children’s Centre will be handed to the council this month.

More than 900 residents and traders have signed the petition after the council announced the closure of the Kooyong Rd centre in May. The building’s owner, Alfred Health, said it could not extend the centre’s lease beyond December. The council, which has ruled out buying the building or finding a replacement, voted in October to lobby the State Government to ensure land continued to be used for child care.

In a letter sent this month, Glen Eira Mayor Margaret Esakoff reiterated the council’s interests to Alfred Health. Alfred Health chief executive Andrew Way said the board of directors was ‘‘cognisant of the problems caused by the uncertainty’’ around the centre. ‘‘The board of directors has asked me to explore with the Victorian Department of Health ways in which this uncertainty can be overcome more quickly than the currently anticipated timescale of June/July,’’ he said.

 COMMENT: Our new members of Parliament should take careful note of this report. Glen Eira’s tactics have always been to ‘pass the buck’ onto State and Federal Governments or taking the Clayton’s approach of ‘action’ such as ‘advocating’ and ‘making representations’ to authorities.  Perhaps if State and Federal funding to Council was also cut by $500,000 then the blame game would stop and Council would be forced to budget appropriately and responsibly.

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Drain blame game  

Climate changes after flow map revealed 

GLEN Eira Council has slammed Melbourne Water’s drainage system and defended its response to flash floods which wreaked havoc across the city. Mayor Margaret Esakoff has called for a r eport into the February 4 event, and is seeking ‘‘urgent attention’’ from the water authority and the Government to improve main drains to reduce repeated flooding. 

The report will cover damage to Glen Eira properties, response times, Melbourne Water and the council’s drainage maintenance programs and Melbourne Water’s plans to reduce flooding in riskprone areas. It follows nearly a decade of council lobbying after Melbourne Water released a map of areas which would experience ‘‘overland flows’’ during intense rainfall because the capacity of the drains would be exceeded. 

‘‘The flooding of housing and businesses which occurred on February 4 closely matched this map,’’ a council report said. More than 100 Glen Eira homes were significantly affected. Cr Michael Lipshutz said Melbourne Water needed to ‘‘get its act together’’. ‘‘We are seeing climate change and we’re seeing more flooding in our areas,’’ Cr Lipshutz said. 

Cr Esakoff had admitted that the council had not adequately responded after outraged residents slammed its ‘ ‘ slow and uncoordinated’’ reaction. But at last week’s council meeting, she did a backflip, saying: ‘ ‘ Since then, information reviewed showed that this was not the case. The council was not slow to respond’’. But Melbourne Water floodplain manager Phillip Neville said Melbourne’s drainage system ‘‘does a great job’’. ‘‘We saw in excess of a one-in-500year storm in some parts of Melbourne,’’ Mr Neville said. ‘‘ An event of that magnitude would stretch the capacity of any drainage system.’’ 

THOUGH authorities have touted the recent flood as a ‘‘one-in-500-year storm’’, Glen Eira residents will tell you otherwise. Downpours cause repeated flooding in parts of the municipality, including the underpass on Normanby Rd near Caulfield racecourse and Boyd park in Murrumbeena.

Councillor Michael Lipshutz said his neighbours had been flooded four times in 12 months while Cr Jim Magee’s Bentleigh street has been flooded twice.  

In 2000 Melbourne Water, responsible for nine drainage systems in Glen Eira, released a map identifying areas expected to flood because the capacity of drains would be exceeded. Those areas include streets west of Orrong Rd in Ripponlea, streets either side of Hawthorn Rd south of Glenhuntly Rd, between Glenhuntly and Koornang roads in Carnegie, and between Murrumbeena and Poath roads in Murrumbeena. Melbourne Water floodplain manager Phillip Neville said when new properties were built, ‘‘ they’re built to a standard which would lessen the consequences if flooding does occur’’

COMMENT: We repeat our previous questions. How much of the flooding is a result of lack of maintenance of COUNCIL’S DRAINS and not Melbourne Water’s? How much of the flooding could have been avoided? Will Council produce a map of the drains under its responsibility? And if Council performed so ‘adequately’, then surely it can’t be mere coincidence that in the Tender Section of Saturday’s Age newspaper we find this advertisement: “Contract No.: 2011.014 Provision of Reactive Drain and Pit Cleaning Services

Requirement: Provision of stormwater drain/pit cleaning, jetting and root cutting services using a purpose built combination vehicle to supplement Council’s own service. Three year contract with an option on the part of Council to extend for a further period of two years”.

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Letters to the Editor

Take public open land discussion seriously  

GLEN Eira Council (councillors and administration) should be publicly pilloried for their appalling response to the Victorian Environment Assessment Council discussion paper on public open land. 

Glen Eira, which has the least public open space in Melbourne and numerous highly paid executives, should have been able to put together a detailed submission that was more than a hastily written onepage letter that lacked substance. Neighbouring councils and individual residents prepared detailed submissions – why didn’t Glen Eira Council?