[By Sue Bolton] The issue of destruction of heritage and high-rise towers on the Pentridge site has become a hot issue locally as residents have discovered the scale of what is being planned by the developers, with little opposition from council.
A particular focus for opposition has been the plan for a 19-storey tower at 21 Pentridge Boulevarde and plans to build several holes through the prison wall for big roads, including plans from council to chop down a heritage Spotted Gum tree to facilitiate one of these roads for the developer.
At the last council meeting, I wanted to move a motion for a moratorium on any development applications until the Pentridge Masterplan had been reviewed, but I found out that there is no legal means getting a moratorium (the undemocratic nature of our state planning laws), so I had to move other resolutions.
These included calling on the minister to reject the application for a 19-storey tower, seeking clarity form Heritage Victoria on the developers’ outstanding obligations to create a museum and implement a heritage interpretation, calling for preservation of the mural painted by prominent Aboriginal artist Ronald Bull, seeking a review of the Pentridge masterplan with submissions from the community and that council find an alternative route for a road through the prison wall to save the heritage Spotted Gum tree. These were all carried.
I also managed to move an amendment to a report about a heritage application to build an 8-storey tower that recognised that height had a negative impact on heritage.
Pedestrian crossing in Louisa Street, Coburg
Last year I moved a motion for a pedestrian crossing on Louisa Street, Coburg, near the Woolworths store. Unfortunately the council officers recommendation was passed that there be no action on a pedestrian crossing until 2021-22. There will need to be a resident campaign to get any action.
Council voted to improve street sweeping, weed management and street litter bins.
Aged care services
Councils in Victoria run the Home and Community Care services. In a deal between federal and state government and the Australian Local Government Association in late 2012-early 2013, it was agreed that in return for state governments fully funding NDIS, the federal government would take over the Home and Community Care services. It will be turned into a fully outsourced voucher service like the NDIS will be and like what is happening to TAFEs where public money is given to dodgy private providers to compete with public TAFEs.
We’ve already seen how this voucher system for services has destroyed our public TAFE system and will be used to undermine public disability services.There’s been no public discussion about the federal government’s plans to turn the Home and Community Care scheme into a voucher system. The voucher system is simply a sneaky means of privatisation which could result in people not being able to afford to pay for the service.
I moved a motion for the Moreland council to take a stand and oppose the outsoucing of this service. The motion was defeated with only myself and ALP councillors Meghan Hopper and Michael Teti voting to oppose outsourcing of this service. The councillors who voted against the motion were from the ALP Right, Liberal Party, former DLP councillor, an independent and a Green. The Greens mayor abstained.
I am not going to give up on this issue. I feel strongly that these services should not be privatised and I intend to talk to groups in the community about this issue.
Assessment of potential heritage places in Moreland
To begin the preparation of a heritage strategy and in the process of doing that, identify further potential heritagte sites in need of protection.
Minister to review residential zones
It was reported that the current planning minister will review the residential zones that were introduced in 2014.
Coburg public toilets
The council officers’ report concluded that there was no need for additional public toilet facilities in the vicinity of the Coburg Mall. This is despite information collected by residents to show that Coburg has less availability of public toilets than other Moreland activity centres and the collection of over 600 signatures on petitions. My amendment prevented the final resolution from making the claim that the toilet facilities are adequate, However, I didn’t succeed in getting any substantial action on public toilets in Coburg into the resolution.
I moved a resolution to support the parents, children and teachers at Strathmore Secondary College in opposing plans to build an off-ramp for the CityLink-Tulla widening project which will go up to the boundary of the school and with the potential for things dropping from vehicles, landing on children playing on the sports oval.
Regulation of car stackers
A motion was passed calling on the state government to regulate car stackers. Car stackers are a relatively new feature of developments and are becoming more common. Some problems are the noise of operation and safety issues.
Opposition to disbanding of Safe Schools program
Council voted for my motion calling on the federal government to stop is attacks on the safe schools program.