Author: Liz Bell

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire acted quickly to remove electoral signs on Wednesday after being swamped by complaints about illegally-erected advertising. In an email to candidates last Monday, the council said that while it “recognises that electoral signage and advertising is a pivotal part of a candidate’s election strategy,” candidates must be aware of the shire’s sign policy. It warned candidates that illegal signs must be removed by Monday this week. But on Wednesday, the council rushed out a further email, stating that non-compliant signs will be removed “today” and all responsible candidates will be notified by the shire’s infringement enforcement department…

WHEN Mt Eliza student Zoe Craig, right, decided to try to raise $500 for mental health programs by signing up for the Melbourne Half Marathon on October 26, she hadn’t planned on reaching her limit so quickly. Within a day of starting her fundraising just a few weeks ago, the 17-year-old student had exceeded her original goal and increased her target to $1000. That too was reached within days, and the amount has increased steadily to now sit at just over $1700. “My goal is now $2000 but, with a month to go, hopefully I will have to change that…

CRIME in Frankston and Mornington Peninsula is on the rise, with sex crimes, burglary and drug-related offences all increasing in the past 12 months. Overall crime in Frankston has risen 12.5 per cent in the last financial year, while the peninsula’s reported crime is up 9.6 per cent. In Frankston, sex offences increased by 70 per cent to 481, burglary and break and enter was up 24.6 per cent to 1180, and drug dealing and trafficking up almost 25 per cent to 242. Of the 79 local government areas in the state, 75 had an increase in crime over the…

A MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire election candidate has defended his right to place a full-page newspaper advertisement naming candidates who support his “down with rates” campaign. Briars ward candidate John Woodman said he was not breaching any Victorian Electoral Commission rules by placing the ad, which lists candidates who have indicated support for a reduction in rates and council debt. But the move has drawn strong criticism from several candidates, who claim the move is “electioneering” and “unethical”. Candidates were made aware of Mr Woodman’s plans after he distributed a pamphlet asking them to tick “yes” or “no” to rates and…

ENVIRONMENTALIST Steve Karakitsos says the sale of the Melbourne Business School in Mt Eliza will worsen the area’s dwindling natural environment and lead to species loss. President of the South Eastern Centre for Sustainability, Mr Karakitsos, said the redevelopment of the site will contribute to the loss of “precious” habitat, which was a recognised factor in species loss. The 8.9 ha property in Kunyung Rd has been bought by Ryman  Healthcare for $40 million and will be redeveloped into a luxury retirement living centre with independent living apartments, pools,  cafes, care hospital and theatre. The site is opposite the Kunyung…

THE RSPCA is investigating a “horrific” case of cruelty in Rye after a young brushtail possum was caught in a steel-jawed trap tied to a wooden trellis. It is unknown how many hours the distressed animal was forced to hang by its crushed paw at the vacant holiday house before a nearby resident saw it and reported it to a peninsula wildlife shelter. Brenda Marmion, of the Crystal Ocean wildlife shelter, Rye, said the trap was a shocking example of disregard for native wildlife. The possum was barely alive when its plight was discovered and it had to be euthanised…

TWO Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors have been accused of misleading the state government which gave $588,000 towards extending the Rye boat ramp. Nepean MP and Rye resident Martin Dixon, who has announced his intention not to run at the next election, told parliament that It was “misleading of the council” to advise the Andrews Labor government that there was community support in Rye to add a fourth lane to the three-lane ramp. The Liberal MP said the grant was based on the council’s assurance to the government that the project had broad community support. But the community was, in fact,…

ROSEBUD carpenter Hamish Hardeman is well on his way to taking on the world in the increasingly popular sport of GT3 car racing. The quietly-spoken 23-year-old won the Porsche CT3 cup challenge at Philip Island after a six-round contest against participants from all over the country. Hardeman, who has been racing for about six years, developed a passion for the sport as a child when he followed his father – who raced an MX5 – to the tracks at Sandown, Winton and Philip Island. While he started off racing motor bikes, by the time he was in secondary school Hardeman…

NEW Zealand’s largest retirement village operator, Ryman Healthcare, has snapped up Mt Eliza’s waterfront Moondah Estate for almost $40 million, with plans to redevelop the property into a retirement village. And they are looking for help from Mornington Peninsula residents to give the village a name that is in keeping with the history of the iconic site. The 8.9 ha property on Kunyung Rd, Mt Eliza was placed on the market in June in an international expressions-of-interest campaign and was expected to fetch more than $20 million. At the time CBRE sales assistant Bianca Butterworth said that price [$20 million]…

THE Premier Daniel Andrews was among four politicians and more than 400 guests at the annual peace symposium at the Ahmadiyya Muslim community Australia’s Bait-ul-Salam mosque in Langwarrin on Friday. The Ahmadiyya muslims, a movement which describes itself as a “fast-growing international revival movement within Islam”, has been hosting the peace symposium for the past 13 years, with the aim of promoting an understanding of Islam and other faiths. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Australia national president Imam Inam-ul-Haq Kauser said the symposium provides a “unique platform” for leaders of all faiths to sit under one roof and discuss ways to…

MORNINGTON Peninsula residents are being asked to support an aqua aerobics fundraiser for a Tyabb mother with multiple sclerosis. Twelve years ago Susan Abbey was diagnosed with the neuro-degenerative disease that has robbed her of things most people would take for granted. Sadly, her diagnosis has recently been upgraded to secondary progressive MS, which means a steady decline until permanent wheelchair dependency. Ms Abbey’s friends have rallied around her and formed Susie’s Angels, a fundraising and support group to raise money for medical aids to make life easier for the 41-year-old. Organiser Sarah McMahon said Somerville shoppers would be familiar…

POLICE are looking for a brazen thief who stole a car, cash and personal items after ransacking the bags of staff at Woolworths’ stores in Frankston, Mornington and Mornington East last week. The man, who was captured on CCTV at all stores entering the staff area and taking items, first offended during the day at Frankston on Wednesday, where it is believed he also took a Woolworths uniform. The next day about 2.30pm he entered the staff area at Mornington Woolworths, where he again went through staff personal belongings. When interrupted by a female employee, he told her he was…

A MORNINGTON Peninsula horse group is hoping to raise enough money through a training workshop to provide rescue workers with specialised knowledge and more equipment to deal with large animal rescues. In the past four years there have been at least two serious accidents involving horses on the peninsula, with one horse needing to be winched out of a swimming pool in Mt Eliza in 2012, and more recently, a horse falling down a well in Hastings. Sadly, that horse died. Alan Costello from Mornington Peninsula equine landcare group, which is sponsoring the workshop, said CFA and SES emergency workers…

A BALNARRING laneway designated as a road in an early 1900s subdivision, but now zoned green wedge, will be sold to a neighbouring Turner Rd land owner for $22,000. But not everyone is happy with the sale, with a submission from a Myers Rd vineyard with restaurant and cellar door complaining that the sale will remove an important “buffer” between it and a neighbouring chicken farm. The laneway, owned by Mornington Peninsula Shire, is not used for vehicle or pedestrian access, but is heavily vegetated and subject to an environmental significance overlay. The 12.7m wide, 713.7m long strip of land…

A PLAN to sell a section of tree reserve to the owner of an adjoining property for $83,000 has been knocked back by Mornington Peninsula Shire after claims it was “under valued” by more than $200,000. The 275 square metre strip of land at 2A Langford Rd, Sorrento, was transferred to council ownership in 1978  from VicRoads (then the Country Roads Board) as part of a subdivision of the surrounding land. But recent plans to remove the tree reserve status and sell the land to its neighbour for $77,000 plus costs have failed, after councillors voted to seek a valuation…

TWO Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors who attended a United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris late last year have fulfilled their requirements to report on the trip and itemise their expenses. Councillors Hugh Fraser and the mayor Graeme Pittock spent 10 days in Paris and attended several other sessions, including the climate summit for local leaders and seminars on renewable energy, smart cities, waste, urban agriculture, low carbon development and water and climate finance. At the Monday 11 July council meeting, Cr Pittock said it was worth noting that there had been no conference fees, no public transport costs, and…

INVESTORS snapping up prime Mornington Peninsula land for apartments and townhouses are facing opposition from a council divided over development amid claims of electioneering. After lengthy debate at the Monday 11 July council meeting, councillors voted to overturn officer recommendations to support proposals for 14 townhouses in Bentons Rd, Mt Martha, and two separate applications for six two-storey townhouses and 14 townhouses, both in Green Island Av, Mt Martha. Residents applauded as Briars Ward councillors told the meeting they had a duty to protect the neighbourhood character of the peninsula’s towns. However, their celebrations might be premature, with council officers…

THREE leading Peninsula conservation groups are calling for an immediate halt to construction of a “dangerous” and unsightly concrete-stepped seawall at Sorrento. Nepean Conservation Group president Ursula de Jong is furious work has begun on the “steps to nowhere” structure and says there has been inadequate community consultation. She says the NCG, the Nepean Historical Society and the Port Phillip Conservation Council are opposed to the development “from environmental, historic, place sensitive and safety perspectives”. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) began work this week on the seawall structure, which will include a “meeting point” of coloured…

A LEADING state government environmental monitoring agency is playing down about erosion on Mornington Peninsula beaches. Alarm is mounting over the loss of sand at several beaches, including McCrae, with claims that sand loss is due to weather and the deepening of Port Phillip shipping channels. Paul Millsom, of McCrae, has accused authorities of ignoring the threat and not doing enough to protect the coastline (“Bay beaches face diminishing returns”, The News 28/6/16). Port Phillip Baykeeper Neil Blake echoed Mr Millsom’s fears, drawing on data that suggests the increases in tide heights are substantially greater than predicted by consultants’ reports prepared…

GARDENERS using nets to protect fruit trees are unwittingly causing the painful and illegal deaths of wildlife every year, says a Mornington Peninsula wildlife carer. Michelle Thomas, from Animalia Wildlife Shelter in Frankston, says sugar gliders, possums, flying foxes and birds are often cruelly trapped in nylon netting and cannot chew or fight their way out. Instead they face an agonising and slow death as they struggle, often breaking limbs and suffering stress and exposure in the sun. Ms Thomas, a registered wildlife carer, cares for up to 3000 animals annually, from as far as Brighton to Portsea. She wants…

THE sprawling Mt Eliza campus of the Melbourne Business School is being marketed to overseas buyers, with its private beachfront access and buildings expected to fetch as much as $20 million. The school is selling the 8.9 hectare Kunyung Rd property, partly due to falling interest in regionally-based business courses and a plan expand the school’s Carlton site as a “world-class centre for business education”. MBS media manager Emily Fear-Gook said the “landscape” for business education had changed since the 1980s when the school moved some of its courses to the peninsula after merging with the Mt Eliza Business School.…

JAN Dance is determined to turn the tragic death of her sister from motor neurone disease into a story of faith and hope. Her sister Sue Whyte died in 2011, four years after being diagnosed with the illness. Jan says the diagnosis, when Sue was 54, was hard to accept, as her sister was a “beautiful soul” who was adored by many. “I was her younger sister and I can say we never ever had an argument, she was just a beautiful person and was always kind,” she said. Jan and her brother Jeff did all they could to stay…

PLANS to build a footpath that have divided the peaceful village of Somers are becoming increasingly hostile, with opponents launching their own legal challenge and accusing the council of taking sides. The long-running dispute has also put the Mornington Peninsula Shire’s special charge schemes under the spotlight, prompting an investigation that recommended abandoning one scheme, reviewing others and deferring nine. Shire CEO Carl Cowie last week described the issue as “vexed” and said dividing townships was not the intent of the scheme. As previously reported in The News, the Somers footpath scheme signalled the shire’s intention to change the way…

AN eroding coastline has experts and residents calling for urgent action to protect the Mornington Peninsula’s beaches and avert a costly drainage disaster. While coastal erosion has long been a problem on the peninsula and millions of dollars being spent on mitigation works including sea walls and groynes, recent storm damage has heightened concern that not enough is being done. Port Phillip Baykeeper Neil Blake has compelling data that suggests the increases in tide heights are substantially greater than predicted by a consultants’ reports prepared for the Port of Melbourne Corporation before the 2008-2009 channel dredging work. He has created…

MORNINGTON sailing enthusiast Cheryl Schumaker is a self-confessed “late starter” to the sport but that hasn’t slowed her rise to the top, becoming the first female commodore in 70 years. However that doesn’t mean big changes at the club. Ms Schumaker has a vision for the club that’s in keeping with its strong focus on community involvement, sports promotion and inclusion. “At one time the general perception was that sailing clubs were for the rich people down the street, but that is changing and our club is an example of that – welcoming and inclusive,” she said. “I started sailing…

A TRIP to Canberra this week by Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Graham Pittock on top of him already spending more than $10,000 in “professional development” has again highlighted concerns about the vagueness of the councillor expenses policy. Cr Pittock is rubbing shoulders with political leaders at this month’s National General Assembly from 19-22 June. On Monday last week, council approved Cr Pittock’s request to attend, despite the mayor already having spent $10,091 on “professional development” this term. Cr Pittock will attend as an official representative of the shire at the estimated cost of $2678 allocated to his conferences and seminars…

ROSEBUD residents have won the first step in their battle against a multi-unit development, with Mornington Peninsula Shire reversing plans to support the proposal when it goes to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in August. At last Monday’s meeting, residents pleaded with councillors to reverse their support for the application, arguing that traffic congestion would make the area unsafe and higher density would be out of character and lead to costly environmental problems. The 12,141 square metre site at 46-469 Waterfall Gully Rd, at the junction of Bayview Av, has had a long planning history, with the shire originally…

A MORNINGTON Peninsula artist has an ambitious plan to sell his three metre by two metre canvas for $1.6 million. Philippe de Kraan says his online “offer” is receiving attention around the globe. The Gathering, an eye-catching expressionist work in bold, bright colours, took de Kraan almost four years to complete using a miniature paintbrush. While most people who have viewed the work would have difficulty scraping together that kind of money, de Kraan said interest from overseas was encouraging. “The news is getting around and I’ve had feedback from people in London and Dubai,” he said. “I’m very confident…

MORNINGTON Peninsula councillors are divided over a revised code of conduct that discourages them from making personal attacks on each other and sets out the process for dealing with bad behaviour. However, shire CEO Carl Cowie told The News he expects that the version of the code of conduct adopted at last week’s special council meeting will be signed by all councillors before the end of June. On Friday, the mayor Cr Graham Pittock said that while he did not agree with some of the amendments, councillors had no choice but to sign the code and “just agree to abide…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is about to appoint an in-house lawyer to provide “risk-based” solutions for its legal dilemmas. The “corporate counsel” will report to the chief financial officer – currently Matthew Hubbard – and be responsible for legal advice and representation on a such issues as planning, commercial contracts, property transactions, governance, employment law, freedom of information and privacy. While no salary range had been provided, The News believes an in-house lawyer is considered to be more cost-effective than the bills being clocked up by the shire from private lawyers. Shire CEO Carl Cowie sees hiring a lawyer as being…