29 October 2016

Unprogressive old men pursuing their own agenda...

...not that of the ratepayers.
A recent email from  a constituent described the Council as such  after observing a meeting.
While sometimes I refer to my colleagues as a retired gentleman's club I do my best to work cohesively with them. However, it is evident to anyone who attends a meeting that we do not reflect our demographic. From what I can tell at least half the people who pay rates in Unley are women, some are immigrants, many are young and some so young they can't yet vote.  I wonder if Unley will ever achieve a 50:50 gender balance and hope to also see younger people putting their names up for election?  It would be great if those who were interested could work together to  learn more about the runnings of council and have the skills to be competitive at the 2018 election. Who is interested??

25 October 2016

If the children are obese, blame the dogs!!

Last night's debate on the Motion to change the dogs off leash exercise time to 4pm in the non-daylight saving months was an absolute farce. The staff consultation and subsequent report had been conducted in a very professional manner. The 127 respondents were almost all in favour of changing the hours in about a dozen parks where the dog off-leash time starts at 5pm. While I spoke in favour of the motion and Don, who seconded the motion, also gave some valid arguments they were not enough to over ride the failed logic of Cr Hughes. He spent time telling fellow Councillors that:
  • Children and dogs can never be in the same park at the same time unless one or the other group is fenced off
  • That 127 respondents was an inconsequential response as Unley has 5,000 dogs (we usually get 3 responses about the rates from 18,000 homes)
  • The parents go picnicking in the parks at 4pm in July
  • This small change would prevent children from exercising and be the cause of obesity in children in Unley
Only one other person spoke against the motion!! Cr Rabbitt, Hewitson and Smolucha spoke in favour of the motion.
Cr Schnell proposed an amendment to reduce the time span so that it would only be for winter months, Cr Sangster seconded this motion. This motion was put and passed 7:5.
This then became the Motion and when put the numbers were 6:6 giving the mayor the casting vote. Despite what he had heard and the officer's recommendation he inexplicably voted against the motion and the entire proposal FAILED.
Cr Hewitson spoke for the motion, voted for the amendment and then against the final motion. Cr Schnell did not vote for his own amendment.
And in the end the people have lost, the people who asked if they could have their dogs off leash a few minutes earlier. These people are Mums and Dads, often with children in tow who take the dog to the park to socialise with other each other and for the dogs to do the same. They mostly walk to the park and the exercise is mostly keeping everyone trim. A pity a few short sighted Councillors have destroyed this initiative without  a second thought.

23 October 2016

Full Council Meeting: October 24th 2016

The agenda is full of things ready for decision. The include:

  • Distribution of the Unley Life: Cr Hughes is concerned that some elderly  residents in apartments or residential care may not have access to this publication PASSED
  • Sunday Road Closures For King William Rd; Cr Koumi is asking staff to investigate some option for this concept. PASSED
  • Delibaerative Polling: what is it and how might it work in Unley's consultation processes? This is a motion from Cr Palmer PASSED
  • Proposed Changes to Dogs Off Leash in Parks (see separate blog) LOST
  • Conservation Grants Policy Review: some minor changes are proposed PASSED
  • Development Assessment Panel  Annual Report 2015/16: some interesting comparisons can be made. Concurrence with officer's recommendations has gone for 89% to 81%. However, fewer appeals have been lodged and none that were have been upheld.PASSED
  • Establishment of a Strategic Property Committee: It is hoped that this committee can identify properties that would be strategic for the UCC to purchase and even more importantly to sell. The report call for Councillor nominations as well as a chairperson.PASSED with Cr Koumi as Chair and Cr Palmer, Cr Smolucha and Cr Hughes as committee members.
  • Review of the Draft 30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide 2016 update: Staff and councillors fee that the proposed document would see significant and probably unpopular changes to the City of Unley if implemented in its current form. Suggestions have been made to continue to afford the current development planning better protection. PASSED
  • Age Friendly Footpath Implementation Issues: A few changes to design a recommended. PASSED 
  • Brown Hill Keswick Creek Funding: CONFIDENTIAL

Art Exhibition; Hughes Gallery

If you are an art expert this might not be the one for you: but if you like supporting people who have discovered something that makes them feel worthwhile and are interested in art then it might be. The Broughton Art Society have their 2016 exhibition starting the 4th of November.
Free Range
Broughton Art Society
48th Annual Exhibition

4 November – 26 November 2016
EXHIBITION OPEN: Mon-Fri 10am-4pm
Sat 19, Sun 20 & Sat 26 November, 10am-1pm

7pm Friday 4 November  2016


Dogs 4pm v 5pm

This week will see the culmination of the initiative and hard work of a group of people who use Page Park to allow their dogs off leash exercise in the evening. They realised that the time available for their dogs to socialise during the winter months was significantly less than that available in the summer months, due to daylight saving. After an initial deputation to Council and a Motion on Notice  from me, amply supported by my co-councillor, Don, the matter passed for public consultation, not only for Page Park but for a raft of other like parks. The response from the public saw nearly 200 responses, most of which were in favour of moving the start time back from 5pm to 4pm from the 1st April to the 1st October. This matter will debated again by Council this week.
There will, however, be  opposition from some Councillors as it will reduce the time that small children can play in the park if they are unwilling to share their space with dogs. In Page Park's case there is no playground, there are 2 dog free parks within a very short distance, and few small children use the park in the early evening.  It may well be an outcome that this will be approved in some of the recommended parks and not others.

It's not easy being green.

If you have passed the Civic Center this week you should have noticed the new green wall that now surrounds the sign on the front wall.

The garden is 3.2m high and 6.8m wide comprising of 480 plants. It has a rain sensor at the top of the wall so that the irrigation switches off on rainy days. The plants will continue to grow and cover the supporting structure.

 Outcomes of the project include;
•Create a welcoming entry statement to the Civic Centre Building
•Cooling of building façade in summer afternoons (Research and observations in Australia show that green walls reduce wall surface temperature by 10ºC )
•Demonstrate ways to find more green space in non-traditional places.
•Air quality improvement

21 October 2016

Great letter from Cr Michael Rabbitt

I hope you all took the time to read this letter in the most recent Eastern Courier. He has summed up the circumstances of the recent flood (which is now believed to be a 1 in 35 event) extremely well.

Flooding talks

DISTRESSED residents in my ward who experienced flooding during the recent storm events believe that, had councils adopted the Stormwater Management Plan to build a dam in the upper reaches of Brownhill Creek, their homes would not have been flooded, yet again, because of the rural run-off.

They also asked, "How many more times do we have to go through this trauma before something is done?" Regrettably, I was not able to provide a satisfactory response, as (1) councils rejected the proposal for a dam, and (2) we are still waiting on a suitable funding arrangement with the State Government.

16 October 2016

What about E-voting?

The Local Government Association meets this week to discuss the above matter as a motion put to them from a Council. They must decide if the LGA should pursue a study into this and bear the cost. It is my opinion, following the debacle that was the Census, to leave well enough alone. If we want to make a change lets make voting compulsory and give it the same status at the other levels of government!

And again!!

Rather than make a comment on my original blog to what I wrote last week to the  Property Council's idea I am writing this. Nevertheless, I would love to see some comments on way or the other. Today's Sunday Mail has Hussein Abiad's  (Dept Mayor for Adelaide) response. This  draws a line along Gepps Cross Rd, Portrush Rd, Fullarton Rd, Cross Rd and South Rd as a suggested boundary for what I assume he would be calling Adelaide City Council.  My thoughts on this are the following:

  • How many Councillors? We're always being told that 12 on Council is too many. This would leave the entire City of Unley, as we know it, with one representative
  • How do businesses get the representation they're always trying to get on the current ACC? They would have far less say
  • How would we get people to vote when they will be even less likely to know the candidate?
  • How do we stop Council from being a breeding ground for would be politicians?
  • How much would we need to pay the Councilors given that the workload would render the position a fulltime job?
  • How do we ensure that the representation reflects the demographic of the people?

14 October 2016

Museum:some new exhibitions

Terrible Tales of Unley: Exhibition Launch Wed 26th Oct, 5pm to 7pm Free, no bookings required. Unley's dark side exposed! A semi-permanent display.
The Tintin Exhibition: open from 4th October to 24th November; Launch event is on the 17th October at 10;30am.
is at 80 Edmund Ave, Unley

Page Park: dead trees

A resident brought to my attention the two dead trees in Page Park. The arborist team has assessed the trees and are waiting for the land to dry out sufficiently so they can bring in their truck. Both present no danger to people at this time but will be removed in the next couple of weeks.

12 October 2016

Amalgamations: here we go again!!

Once again Council amalgamations seem to be on the agenda in South Australia. The Property Council's  report in Monday's paper was not off to a good start when it quoted projected savings after the voluntary amalgamations that occurred over 20 years ago. The projections looked good at the time  but a report as never been written into what the actual savings were. If the comments in today's paper are any indication they certainly did not leave happy ratepayers behind them. According to the report the monies saved were in less CEO's, fewer Councillors and shared services. Well, Council's already share services where cost savings can be achieved and are always looking for new opportunities to do so. While many would argue that the CEO is well paid and we, as Councillors, don't do it for nothing, in the general scheme of things this, at least in Unley, would save less than $400,000. This amounts to  $200 per  property. If we were to compare to new South Wales or Queensland the new CEO of an amalgamated Burnside and Unley (as a hypothetical notion) would want  double and the Councillors would be paid as if they were doing a full time job. Even with half the Councillors the savings would be negated very quickly, in fact the costs would increase.
If the state government actually believes fewer Councils would be more cost effective then they need to have the courage to realign boundaries on communities of interest and pay little or no heed to existing boundaries. In the end it won't be cheaper and your rates will continue to go up and you  will also have lost the local in Local Government. You will be voting for your Councillors on Party lines and you'll get the same type of people as you see in our current politicians and not the type of people you have now. We might argue and debate but everyone of us has your best interests at heart and not our own.

10 October 2016

Unley Library Festival; 5th Nov

The 5th November is the day Unley Library will celebrate its 50th Birthday.
It starts with  a 3D astronomy experience  session at 4pm on the 4th with 'Earth's Wild Ride' and then vintage cartoons and Disney's original Jungle Book.
On the 5th Oxford Tce will be closed for a Vintage Fair.
Sounds like a little bit of fun for everyone.

06 October 2016

They imagined all the money that could be saved.

Trip hazards in the footpaths
How long is too long to get then fixed?
From this
How big does the trip hazard have to be before it is worth fixing?
These are the vexing questions that Council is facing as we near the end of the paving of footpaths. This programme has a mere 18 months to run until all footpaths in Unley are paved. This program was to have taken 25 years and it has taken 35 years. Original reports indicate that the Councillors at the time were told that once the footpaths were paved they would not need replaced for at least 50 years.
They imagined all the money that could be saved.
At the current time Council spends $1.3million on paving footpaths each year and $500,000 repairing them. By 18/19 that should free up the $1.3 million to do something else?
It will as long as you, the ratepayer, will tolerate 20mm trip hazards in streets that have low levels of foot traffic. Many Councillors have indicated that this is too high and that anything over 10mm should be fixed in a reasonable time frame (say less than 6o days), and then the price for maintenance starts to escalate.
To this!

04 October 2016

Should we all just get along?

There seems to be some disquiet recently after Council meetings that we appear to be a little dysfunctional. The tone of a meeting is the direct responsibility of the Mayor and he must take some responsibility for this. Then there is the rest of us, what is our responsibility?
I would argue that my responsibility is to;

  • Keep my self informed of Council business
  • To read all the material supplied to me by Council diligently
  • To form opinion based on fact
  • To listen and learn to what the community has to say
  • Not interfere in the work of staff
  • Give my opinion and support to Motions based on the above
I am often the only one who votes against a motion, sometimes I have a few more supporters, but I will not vote with the majority if what they want is, in my opinion, not in the best interest of Council.
It seems to me that there are elected members that do not always do  all of the above, it is these that are causing the problems that Lachlan perceives so clearly from the chair. The problem is that it is these very members that can not see the failings in themselves that cause the issue. It is time for some tough talk, one to one to let the offenders know what the issue is and what needs to change.
At the last Council meeting one member had a direct, an unfounded, shot at me as I was on Council when the Unley Shopping Centre was sold. We were debating the finish time of meetings. Relevance to the topic; nil. To set the record straight we sold the Shopping Centre because running such a facility is not the core business of Council and  we needed to retire debt. 

Roadside Memorials; Is Council Overreacting?

Hope you read the article in the Sunday Mail yesterday? While I would have thought that the writer's article pretty well summed up the sentiment of the meeting it has caused quite a stir in the media. While the article was not sympathetic to Council's adopted policy the letters to the Editor published today are. While I would have left well enough alone Council has been recalled to debate the matter again. I am yet to see the new motion that has been proposed but will debate on its merits when I do. For those who are interested the meeting is at 6:45pm tonight.

02 October 2016

Unley Central Precinct Development Plan Amendment

We’re seeking your feedback on proposed amendments to the Unley (City) Development Plan.
The Unley Central Precinct is the heart of our City. Even if you do not live or own property in the affected area, your views are an integral part of this amendment process.
Feedback will be received until 5pm, 18 November 2016. (here)

Events Season Update

If you are looking for something to do over the summer why not write a few of these events into your diary?

  • Guitar Festival (sorry this one has gone but you would have had to be in  residential care facility to enjoy it.
  • First Light Morning Dance Party: Sat 14th January  2017
  • Every Generation Festival
  • Ignite  Unley:Nov 11th Page park (Zootopia), Dec 9th Gilbert St, Goodwood (street party), Feb 14th, 2017 Ridge park (local musicians and food trucks)
  • Meraki Festival: Sat 26th Feb at the Soldiers Memorial Garden (health and well-being activities all day)
  • Unley  Gourmet Gala: Monday 16th Jan 2017