We urge all residents to peruse the so-called revamped Community/Council Plan and the proposed Budget to be decided on Tuesday night. After all the submissions, community forums, consultants’ reports and public presentations, nothing but nothing that residents highlighted as major concerns, has been adequately addressed and rectified. Projected increases in rates and charges remain the same; expenditure on vital infrastructure such as drains, roads, footpaths remains unchanged. All that has changed is some token motherhood statements about ‘investigating’ the possibility of introducing a Development Contributions Levy (!!!!!!),a Tree Register, and a Community Garden. The ‘measures’ of course basically entail a ‘report’ or ‘investigation’ or ‘review’ back to Council. We don’t need a crystal ball to know that these reports will state that:

  • These things are too expensive to (re)introduce, or
  • There is no available land in all of Glen Eira suitable for community gardens, etc.

What residents need to note in regards to rates is that in 2011/12 we were charged 3.0932 cents in the dollar. This year (to accommodate the 6.5% increase) this has jumped to 3.2425 on each property. Funnily enough, the MRC continues to receive a very handsome subsidy for all its land and occupied property. They are charged “a rate of 76% of the General Rate in the dollar which would otherwise be payable in respect of the land”. Ratepayers are therefore subsidising the MRC to the tune of 24%!!!!!!

These redrafted documents make it absolutely clear that this administration and its councillors have no intention of listening to residents and acting upon community views in a responsive and responsible fashion. Consultation has been, and is, nothing more than an empty, and costly, public relations exercise.

PS: we’ve decided to go into a little more detail to illustrate precisely what’s wrong with this ‘new’  “Action Plan”. We will examine some of these in the order they appear.

Added: “Review and update Council Policy “Exclusion of Specific Developments from the Residential Parking Permit Scheme” to implement measures to ensure multi dwellings provide adequate on-site car parking.” The listed ‘measure’ is: “Report a revised policy to Council.” Please note the vagueness of the language – “measures”, “adequate”. How “adequate” will be ascertained and evaluated is of course unstated. Further it remains nothing more than “policy” rather than full integration into the Planning Scheme.

Added: “Implement capital program including traffic calming measures in local streets informed by the Transport Strategy, Road Safety Strategy and the Local Area Traffic Management Priority System.” All well and good. But if the budget has actually reduced expenditure on these areas then all the policies in the world remain useless documents. 4 speed humps per year for the past 6 years does not fill anyone with confidence that traffic management is a high priority for this council.

The action proposed is: “Actively plan for a mix of dwelling types underpinned by the Minimal Change/Housing Diversity policy and also by encouraging a mix of one, two and three bedroom dwellings in larger medium density proposals”. The ‘new’ measure reads: “Ensure Minimal Change and Housing Diversity policies are working by directing most dwellings to Housing Diversity.” Apart from the fact that the ‘measure’ and the ‘action’ are not integrated, there is no intention in this to even consider the possibility that the Housing Diversity/Minimal Change policies are ineffective, if not straight out discriminatory. We’ve already been told that nearly 50% of new dwellings do not go into housing diversity!

Added: “Refuse under Manager Delegation all applications which are deemed non-compliant with Council’s Minimal Change Area Policy”. Well, hallelujah!  Does this mean that previously applications that weren’t ‘complaint’ were actually given permits? And what about Housing Diversity Areas? These are, as per normal, totally ignored in the Action Plan.

Added: “Investigate the feasibility and applicability of introducing a Development Contributions Plan Report”. The stated measure is: “Report provided to Council.” Reminds us of a wonderful ethnic expression – “only donkeys go backwards”!

Finally, there is much, much more that we could have included but the result would be pages and pages. We again urge residents to find out for themselves how their views and aspirations have once again been totally ignored or watered down so that they become meaningless. Spin and inaction remain at the top of the list for Glen Eira administrators and councillors.  All the issues which residents highlighted – planning, traffic, open space, governance, etc. – are untouched and unsolved, whilst the same old agendas of pro-development, more and more taj mahals, and increased rates are very much alive and well in our municipality.