[By Sue Bolton] Issues that came up at the July Moreland Council Meeting were:
After hours respite service – We had a fantastic victory at the July council meeting when the council unanimously voted for my motion to fully reinstate the after-hours respite service for the parents and carers of children with disabilities. Council voted in December to axe the after hours respite service for carers without asking questions about the impact on carers who are also full-time workers. The service began phasing out from June 1st.
This was a terrible cut because these families cope with extreme stress dealing with full-time work, caring for their families, negotiating with services for disabled family members, and sometimes caring for elderly parents as well. These families are usually exhausted already without having to also campaign against cuts. Luckily, some parents were prepared to speak up so we built a public campaign to ensure that councillors understood why the cuts were so negative for parents. After parents raised questions in the June council meeting and then a month of campaigning, we won the full reinstatement of the service at the July council meeting.
Review of Pentridge Prison developer master plans – There has been a local campaign to get the Pentridge Prison developer master plans reviewed. Residents hope that this will give an opportunity to save a heritage site and reduce the overdevelopment on this site. This agenda item was deferred to the August council meeting.
Solar panel overshadowing – There are now many conflicts between residents who have solar panels on their roofs and developers who plan developments which will overshadow solar panels. Currently, the state’s planning laws don’t allow councils to use overshadowing of solar panels as a reason for rejecting development applications. This means that the council has used VCAT decisions as a guide to what it can reject or accept with overshadowing. VCAT allows up to 50% of overshadowing of solar panels before it considers rejecting on that basis. The July council meeting voted to request that the state government urgently introduce statewide guidelines on potential impacts on solar panels.
Street tree removal associated with planning permit activity – There are processes and practices in place that identify and investigate the appropriateness of street tree removal associated with development. This includes seeking advice from Council’s Open Space Maintenance Unit and refusing planning permit applications that require the removal of significant street trees or negotiating changes to development proposals to enable retention of street trees.
Moreland Industrial Land Use Strategy (2015-2030) – Moreland has now adopted a policy on industrial zones. Some industrial zones in Brunswick have been re-zoned to mixed use zones, but the core industrial zones have been preserved with a view to saving blue collar jobs. However, this preservation of the core industrial areas was ignored a couple of years ago when council voted to re-zone the old Bunnings site on Gaffney St to allow the big Coles supermarket to be built on the site.
Bluestone infrastructure assets – Moreland has a policy to preserve bluestone heritage. There is concern from residents that the heritage value of bluestone assets is not being addressed properly by council and that the supply of bluestone pitchers is running out. Councillors called for a report that quantifies the stock of bluestone pitchers available to repair bluestone structures and also record the bluestone assets that aren’t covered by the infrastructure department, such as bluestone buildings.
Homelessness in Moreland – With the visible increase in homelessness across Melbourne, including in Moreland, I moved a motion calling for a report on the extent of homelessness in Moreland and to consider practical proposals that council could adopt to help people suffering from homelessness.
Dog waste disposal – Council voted to trial the provision of biodegradable dog waste disposal bags in several locations for six months.