Report on March 8 Council Meeting

[By Sue Bolton] Issues that were discussed at the March 8 council meeting included:

Access to the main pitch at CB Smith Reserve – The soccer ground at CB Smith Reserve is the best in Moreland but access to it is very restricted because it is used by National Premier League teams. It is meant to be Fawkner Soccer Club’s home ground but it doesn’t feel like it. FSC had more access to pitches before the new soccer ground was made, when it was a smaller club. Now its membership has almost doubled to 400 members and it has less access to pitches. The last straw was when FSC was told by council that their senior women’s team would be denied access to the main pitch. I got a  motion passed for Fawkner Soccer Clubs senior women’s and men’s teams to both have access to the main pitch and to review the management plan for the ground in order to give more pitch access to a community soccer club. I believe that council should prioritise grassroots community clubs over professional clubs.

Development around Neighbourhood activity centres (Planning Amendment C159) – Council voted to pass the C159 planning amendment to limit development in the 11 Neighbourhood Activity Centres. We voted for a 4-storey mandatory height limit in the Neighbourhood Activity Centres and rejected a proposal from council officers to allow 6-storey buildings on “strategic development” sites. It’s good that the amendment passed because it will give more protection to residents, but it could have been much better.

The amendment gives protection for residents in the Neighbourhood Residential Zones who live next door to the Residential Growth Zone (which allows 4-storey buildings) but it doesn’t give adequate protection for residents who live in a single storey house/unit in the General Residential Zone next door to the Residential Growth Zone. Most of the area north of Bell St is in the General Residential Zone so this issue is important. I intend to keep pushing for more protection for residents who live next to or live within the Residential Growth Zones so that the change can be more gradual.

I tried to get an amendment through to make the minimum lot sizes of 12 metres by 35 metres mandatory so that developers can’t build 4-storey buildings on lots that are too small. A 4-storey building on a small lot size means tiny flats without amenity. I failed to get a seconder for this.

Community shed for Fawkner – Fawkner Community House has been campaigning for a community shed for the last 10 years. The idea is that there be a community shed which would include a tool library and allow people to have access to tools and work individually or collaboratively on projects. It was always envisaged that it would involve both men and women and all age groups and be available after work and on weekends as well as on weekdays. FCH were offered the old athletics pavilion at Charles Mutton Reserve, but at the last minute found that the conditions from council would make it unusable. I moved a motion at the March council meeting for the council to find a dedicated space for the community shed. In the days leading up to the meeting, some of the councillors became wobbly, arguing that it should be a men-only shed. In the end my motion passed, so now there is a definite commitment by the council to support a community shed.

Safer cycling on Sydney Rd – A motion was passed for council officers to produce a report on safer cycling on Sydney Road, Similar motions have passed before and not resulted in any serious action, but now that there is a plan create super tram stops on Sydney Road in the next couple of years, there is a new opportunity to consider options to improve cycling safety on Sydney Road.

Pentridge Masterplan – Following on from previous motions that I have moved, the council voted to critique the Pentridge Masterplans and to approach the state planning minister Richard Wynne to request permission to amend the Pentridge Masterplans without the support of the developers. All but one of the Pentridge Masterplans were designed by the developers without any public consultation. These were then approved by previous state planning ministers. Heritage Victoria is not required to notify residents when an application comes through to destroy heritage. It is only since residents came together to protest against a 19-storey tower on the corner of Pentridge Boulevarde and Stockade Avenue that I have been able to get the council interested in opposing over-development and destruction of heritage at Pentridge.

The resolution passed unanimously but some worrying comments made in discussion by councillors Ali Irfanli and Annalivia Carli-Hannan. They said that they had been taken on a tour of Pentridge by one of the developers, Shayer, and expressed sympathy with the developers for the amount of money they had spent on “maintaining” heritage.

Outsourcing of rubbish collection – Since the time of the Kennett state government in the 1990s, many council services have been outsourced. Moreland council has a set-up where the rubbish collection south of Bell St is contracted to Citywide and north of Bell St is carried out by council staff. The waste collection contracts will expire at the end of last year. I am committed to opposing contracting out where possible and would like to see the waste collection contract be brought in-house to preserve workers jobs and working conditions. Council was meant to vote on the waste contract at the March meeting but unfortunately, councillors voted to make this agenda item confidential. I don’t believe that such important issues should be debated behind closed doors so I moved opposed the shifting of this item to the confidential section of the meeting. None of the other councillors voted against it being made confidential.

Charles Mutton Reserve – A motion was passed to create a masterplan for Charles Mutton Reserve in the southern part of Fawkner. The reserve currently includes the Northern Saints AFL club, a cricket club, a bowling club and an athletics track. There is a current plan to replace the athletics track with several netball courts. This is a potentially great sporting precinct which needs a masterplan to work out the best way of utilising the space. There will be public consultation about the masterplan.

Commemoration of 100th anniversary of anti-conscription campaign & role of Brunswick-Coburg residents – Council voted to give $3500 to assist a local group with organsing activities to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the anti-conscription campaigns in 2016 and 2017. .Brunswick was the heart of the anti-conscription campaign and many of the anti-conscription activists were jailed in Pentridge Prison in Coburg, including famous suffragette, Adela Pankhurst. Australia was the only country in the world to have a vote on conscription. This is an important example of a massive people’s movement which won against the establishment.

Oak Park pool – Council has granted the contract to build a new Oak Park Aquatic Centre to replace the ageing Oak Park Pool. This is a very expensive project at $26 million but the pool would have to be closed if a new pool wasn’t commissioned.