Quiet start, noisy finale


Blairgowrie Yacht Club Monday 22 February – the year’s first community meeting. A capacity house, which got its fill of healthy food and news of progress in the shire, especially works completed and on foot in the local ward, Nepean.

COUNCIL Watch has great affection for coastal council meetings. One is usually able to find a seat where, if the subject at hand becomes a drone, the waters of Port Phillip lull the senses.

The evening started with a presentation on what was occurring in the ward – much of which had the nautical flavour one would expect on this narrow neck of land, with oft-wild Bass Strait on the port side and the tranquil bay gleaming to starboard.

After the meal break came the business, preceded by housekeeping – apologies, conflict of interest and so on – then word that the peninsula’s municipal emergency management plan had passed its three-yearly audit yet again.

Then mayoral commendations and letters under seal were presented to the peninsula’s Australia Day honours recipients.

This newspaper has previously recorded the recipients – eight prominent citizens, including business people, community workers and one whom CW feels it is fair to describe as an ancient mariner – but must report that the presentations were made far from the audience and in a subdued light.

After questions – one asking whether closing Rye tip will mean higher tipping fees while illegal dumping continues unabated – came the mid-year “Reforecast report” setting out how budget savings of $2.693 million have been allocated.

One spending area is a further $300,000 on “dumped rubbish cleaning, prevention and education programs”, leading CW to wonder whether the total spend in this area is achieving anything at all. Entire lounge suites are turning up on beaches.

Other shire priorities are buying land, detailed design of street lighting – part of the carbon neutral policy – road and car park maintenance, tree management and high-pressure cleaning of major activity centres.

The report that accompanied this item went into shire budget figures in such painstakingly precise detail it was difficult, later in the meeting on another matter, to comprehend how some councillor allowance figures could be, as stated by councillors, so inaccurate.

But that is a matter for another report.

Next, protection of two important areas of the shire, Beleura Hill in Mornington and the Birdrock/Clarkes Ave precinct in Mt Martha, were dealt with.

Stripping away the required bureaucratic and technical language, proposals for these two precincts are generally supported after minute examination and receipt of public submissions. Such matters are not rushed.

The Arthurs Seat Skylift matter was back, for another change to plans. This one was an aesthetic matter, being the roof colour for both bottom and top gondola stations, from “Whitehaven” in the Colorbond range to a new hue, “Mangrove”, a recent addition to the kaleidoscope.

This came warmly recommended by planners, who said it was “considered to represent a superior outcome, given the lower reflectivity value associated with the use of a more muted tone”.

And, they continued, “Mangrove” was “more complementary to the landscape setting of Arthurs Seat” – an aesthetic bonus previously applied to the colour – bright blue – they supported as appropriate for the gondolas that will soon glide unobtrusively up and down the escarpment.

With only a notice of motion to go, CW thought he was in for an early night. It was not to be. From this point in the agenda it was on for young and old.

So often in council meetings these days, the best is saved for last – or, if not the best, the most exciting. You must now, dear reader, turn to the news pages for the notice of motion and a plethora of matters of urgent business.

First published in the Mornington News – 1 March 2016


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