Why is it that Glen Eira is so out of kilter with every other council, especially when it comes to providing information to residents on vital issues, or even providing decent, informative answers to public questions.

On Tuesday night, several questions were asked in relation to meetings with the Minister (Jacinta Allen) on Skyrail. Here is one question and the response –

“Jacinta Allan met with the Kingston City Council on Thursday 21 April to discuss level crossing removals through their area. Has Ms Allan or the LXRA met with GlenEira Council to discuss crossing removals through Glen Eira, and if so what was the outcome of those discussions?

The Mayor read Council’s response. He said:

“At the invitation of the Minister for Public Transport the Mayor and the Chief Executive Officer met with her on 8 March 2016. Councillors and Council Officers have met with representatives of the LXRA on many occasions. Such meetings have involved the exchange of information and views. Council has, on each occasion, taken the opportunity to strongly advocate for community consultation on the grade separation projects.”

What is staggering about this reply is:

  • The failure to answer the most crucial part of the question (ie outcomes of discussion)
  • Why it should take a formal public question for council to even acknowledge that a meeting has taken place

Thankfully, not all councils are as secretive as Glen Eira. Kingston put out a Media Release within days of their meeting with the Minister. Here is what they had to say –

Kingston Council meets with Transport Minister to pass on community concerns

26 April 2016

Kingston Council met with Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan last week to raise community concerns about the Level Crossing Removals project.

Minister Allan, Mordialloc MP Tim Richardson and LXRA representatives visited Council’s Cheltenham offices to hear directly from the Mayor and councillors and discuss upcoming community consultation on the project.

“The meeting was incredibly productive and we were able to pass on community concerns and advocate for a well-planned strategic approach that makes the most of this once-in-a-generation infrastructure project to deliver great long-lasting results for our community,” Mayor Tamsin Bearsley said.

The Minister confirmed in principle that the next stage of community consultation, due to take around the middle of this year, would include detailed information on different options available at each individual site including environmental impacts, engineering analysis, acoustic reports and estimated costs so our community can make an informed decision and have their opinion clearly heard and taken into account,” Cr Bearsley said.

The Minister’s visit followed recent calls from Kingston Council for improved community consultation by the Level Crossing Removal Authority before any decisions are made about level crossing removals in the area.

“We presented a short video from the Chelsea and Bonbeach Train Station Group to show positive approaches and ideas being generated by our community that are alternatives to a skyrail,” Cr Bearsley said.  

“Minister Allan had also been briefed by local MP Tim Richardson on the heritage issues surrounding the Mentone station and the unique sensitivities along the Frankston line due to the close proximity of Port Phillip Bay.”

Mayor Tamsin Bearsley said councillors had received strong community feedback opposing a skyrail option for the Frankston line and criticism of recent public consultation sessions held by the Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA).

“Kingston Council will continue to work closely with our community, the LXRA, local MPs and the Minister to ensure our community is kept well-informed and actively involved in this project.”

The Victorian Government’s list of 50 level crossings for removal includes seven in the City of Kingston – Centre Road Clayton on the Dandenong line and six level crossings on the Frankston line.

Source: http://www.kingston.vic.gov.au/About-Us/Media/Media-Releases/Transport-Minister-visit

Another public question asked on Tuesday night was this –

A group of around 20 residents met Jacinta Allan last Thursday 21/11/16 at 10.40
am outside Kingston City Council following a meeting regarding Skyrail for the
Frankston line. The Kingston city Council CEO John Nevins, Mayor Cr Tamsin
Bearsley, Mayor Cr John Ronke and MP Tim Richardson can also attest to
Jacinta’s promise to meet and finally meet and respond to unanswered
correspondence and questions with our community. She indicated she was happy
to meet and to organise a meeting through Tim Richardson (or presumably our local
member). Will the Gleneira Council please follow up on this invitation and cite this promise?

And Council’s woeful response?

“If, as you say, the Minister for Public Transport has said that she is happy to
organise a meeting through the Member for Mordialloc then it would be best for
you to contact either the Minister or the Member for Mordialloc directly. You may also wish to direct your request through either the Member for Bentleigh or the Member for Oakleigh who are other members of the Government with grade separations happening in their electorates.”

PS: it is also worth pointing out that the 100 or so public questions which were taken on notice from the previous council meeting are not included in the minutes – as required by the Local Law!!!!!

PS: here’s a photo we received in conjuction with a comment. It shows a trailer parked (in a No Standing Zone) as part of the LXRA operations and presumably without a permit. Yet, council in its responses to public questions claimed that only 5 permits had been granted for ground works. The trailer has been there for well over a week! Thus, how much faith, credibility, can residents place in any response they receive from council?