Browsing: Council Watch

Council Watch

Venue: Hastings Hub, 22 June 2015. Fine buffet, but spartan for the discerning vegetarian, with carnivores far more generously catered for. A restrained dessert; sugar addicts could fall back on soft drink. A dearth of orange juice. THIS being Cerberus ward’s turn to host what is now its sole annual community meeting, parish news was to the fore. There was a big footpath scheme for Somers, good news on the Stony Point rail line’s level crossings, bad news on hoon motorbikes in Hastings (they’re getting worse) and more good news on the Warringine boardwalk. The popular boardwalk, destroyed in last…

Besgrove St bunker, 7pm Tuesday 9 June. Stalwarts cooled (literally) their heels until doors were unlocked. Initial absence of biscuits remedied personally by C Cowie CEO. THIS was a meeting as action-packed as Audie Murphy’s war, or the Westerns he made later in his safer role as an actor. And, as action-packed events are usually accompanied by the munching of sweets, the meeting was marked by the rhythmic movement of syncopated jaws masticating mints. First up was five footpath proposals, ranging from Mornington to Sorrento through Mt Martha, Dromana and McCrae. Total cost of the proposals: $1.22 million, dealt with in about…

SHIRE councillors have abolished the council committee that deals with major planning matters on the Mornington Peninsula. The Development Assessments Com-mittee (DAC) was scrapped via a late-night Notice of Motion at the council meeting in Rosebud on Monday 25 May. Planning matters will now be dealt with at ordinary council meetings. The motion was put up by Cr Hugh Fraser who has pushed for what he calls the streamlining of council processes and procedures since last October. This was when the balance of power on the council changed following the election of Cr Tim Wood, who replaced Frank Martin. When…

Mornington Peninsula Shire community council meeting, Rosebud Memorial Hall, 25 May 2015. No personal account can be given of the meal, but it was up to the usual high standard, according to usually reliable sources. THIS is a Council Listen rather than a Council Watch, as your correspondent was absent from the meeting. But there’s always the shire’s recording, which is posted on its website a few days later. So let’s soak up the drama and atmosphere without actually having been there. Unsealed car parks appeared a straightforward agenda item until it was pointed out the shire had more than 250 across…

IN ROSEBUD, “a dark and stormy night” was threatening. This, the much-derided first sentence of the 1830 novel  Paul Clifford was apt, even though this night was merely dark, pre-meeting. The popular English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton followed up his opening purple prose with this: the violent wind was “fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness”. Phew! We had Neons. That’s winter on the Mornington Peninsula, too, the cold darkness exacerbated by a distinct lack of biscuits for those warming their frozen fingers on a cuppa before the meeting. But CW digresses, and will digress…

Monday 27 April. Venue: Main Ridge Community Hall. A good crowd. The usual healthy pre-meeting buffet was provided. Council Watch fell to the temptation of raspberry cakes served with, or as an alternative to, fruit salad dessert. No whipped cream, fortunately. AS befits a stoush in the week we marked the centenary of Gallipoli, councillors came out of their trenches with metaphorical bayonets fixed. The action was brisk on a number of fronts. There were casualties, mainly flesh wounds, in a couple of skirmishes. It started even before question time, with a punchy petition from 253 residents living near the…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire’s contentious Municipal Charge, now $180 per domestic rate notice, is to be reviewed, shire CEO Carl Cowie told the 13 April council meeting. Responding to a question from Joe Lenzo of Safety Beach, Mr Cowie said the review could result in a change to the flat-rate charge starting in the 2016-17 financial year budget. Mr Lenzo had asked if the shire would “consider discontinuing this regressive and unfair tax”, collecting it instead by increasing the rate in the dollar. He had provided figures showing its disproportionate effect on the less well off. The highest dwelling rate, excluding…

Monday 23 March. Venue: Mt Martha Life Saving Club. Briefings at 5pm, meal at 6, council meeting at 7. Salmon and salad for a pleasant change and a naughty second helping of dessert. A very good crowd, overflowing available seating when the meeting started. Extra parking at nearby shops for latecomers. CHANGE can creep up on you, or crash through like Brendon McCullum taking hold of the bowling in the run to a ton. Was it change at the council meeting when the redoubtable Fred Crump of Mornington got away with an 84-word question on illegal rubbish dumping? No matter. The…

Community meeting, Monday, 23 February. Venue: Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club. An outstanding chocolate cake was served (with real cream) following the usual very healthy repast in honour of Cr Tim Rodgers’ birthday. Cr Rodgers took home the edible “Happy Birthday” message that had adorned the cake. No candles were seen – but surely few more than two score would have been needed. CHANGE is upon us apace across the shire, in small ways and large, with (so Council Watch believes) a couple of humdingers on the way. New shire CEO Carl Cowie’s review of the shire was due to…

REMOVAL of the carbon tax should curb any rate rise next year, according figures drawn from the Victorian Auditor-General’s report for 2012-13. The federal Labor government’s tax, abolished by the current federal Coalition government after it was elected in 2013, is the fourth largest driver of rate increases, the report, Rating Practices in Local Government, stated. The three bigger items were “maintaining services/cost shifting”, “general/other costs” and the state government’s landfill levy. The report was compiled using figures supplied by Victorian councils. Both federal and state governments “cost-shift” services on to local councils, often to achieve savings in their own…

Council meeting at Besgrove St, Rosebud, 12 August, 7pm. Small gallery crowd; tea, coffee and biscuits provided. THERE were a few new faces among the usual gallery veterans at 2015’s first council meeting on 27 January. Three of the faces were there to ask questions about the RACV proposal to build a five-storey addition to its Cape Schanck resort. Five storeys! Thirty metres! Council Watch visualised such a monster rearing up out of the flat Cape Schanck landscape beside Boneo Rd. Cape Schanck resident Phil Gledhill asked if all councillors had “fully informed themselves” of the impact the building would…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is under pressure to cut its rates as the state government promises to force councils to justify any increases above the rate of inflation. Councils will be required to send their budgets to the Essential Services Commission for permission to raise rates above inflation under Labor’s new policy. The shire’s 2015-16 budget is well under way. Officers are assembling the data on which our rates and charges will be struck – under the experienced financial eye of new shire CEO Carl Cowie. For the first time in perhaps a decade, those who put their views annually to…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire spent more than $6 million on consultants in the 2013-14 financial year. The figure has been provided to council watcher and southern peninsula resident Barry Robinson, who for several years has been asking the shire how much it spends on external advice. It is not a complete response, but a significant change in what appeared to have been a policy of denying info to ratepayers over a number of years on a wide range of issues. In 2013-14, $6.24 million was spent on consultants. As to being given more detailed figures, shire sustainable organisation director Bruce Rendall…

NEXT year could be the most lively and productive year Mornington Peninsula Shire has had in a long time. A new chief executive officer, Carl Cowie, and councillors appearing to bury their differences are welcome developments. Here are a few items, dealt with briefly, for councillors and officers to consider over the summer break. The subjects can be classed as boring but important: no soaring visions, just matters of tidy housekeeping. An astonishing amount has already been accomplished but there’s more to be done. Rates They have been going up at well over the rate of inflation, more than doubling…

Mornington municipal office. A full agenda. Notably, the first council meeting attended by the shire’s new chief executive officer, Mr Carl Cowie. By David Harrison IT WAS new shire CEO Carl Cowie’s first public appearance at a council meeting and, so far as Council Watch knows, his first peninsula public outing, full stop. Mr Cowie is the shire’s first new chief executive officer this millennium and the first new CEO for all councillors bar Cr David Gibb, who has sat in the chamber since at least 1999. Mr Cowie arrived in the chamber without fanfare. He sat quietly at the…

Mt Eliza Community Hall, Monday 24 November. The usual fine nourishment followed by some feisty debate in a meeting that ran over time. DID Council Watch detect a frisson running through the meeting as it ranged across topics from growing fruit and vegies on your nature strip (who owns them?) to who chairs council meetings? Was the frisson in any way associated with anticipation about the meeting two days later, at which the new shire chief executive officer was to be announced? The councillors all knew the new CEO’s identity and were commendably, annoyingly for CW, zipper-lipped. Perhaps the secret…

THE Graham Pittock conflict of interest case, now concluded, has pulled the focus squarely on to the deep dysfunction afflicting Mornington Peninsula Shire Council over the Southern Peninsula Aquatic Centre. The case began with a 2012 allegation of conflict of interest – anonymous, as is allowed, to the secretive Local Government Investigation and Compliance Inspectorate – and ended last Friday with a fine and costs order. Almost a modern-day “Jarndyce and Jarndyce”, for those who read Dickens. For more than two years Cr Pittock was prevented from voting on the financially huge and physically expanding SPA, such is the cracking…

Council meeting Monday 25 August, Rye Civic Hall. Presentation on Point Nepean development proposal, a fine dinner, council meeting highlighted by the swearing-in of new Red Hill ward councillor Tim Wood. THIS was The Moment, especially for residents of Red Hill ward. Effectively disenfranchised since former councillor Frank Martin fell ill in December 2013, we hinterland wardies were keen to see new man Tim Wood, declared byelection winner on Saturday, sworn in and taking his seat at the council table. Word was that the induction was not to occur until 8 September, but councillor-elect Wood is a man in a…

Newly elected Red Hill ward councillor Tim Wood may not be able to begin his duties until 8 September, despite Local Government Minister Tim Bull advising there was “no impediment” to him being sworn in on Monday 25 August and beginning work at that evening’s council meeting. Red Hill ward has effectively been unrepresented since last December, when former ward councillor Frank Martin fell ill and took extended sick leave. He resigned in May. According to Cr Hugh Fraser, “Management has fixed the taking of the Oath by the person declared elected for Red Hill Ward as an item of…

Shire CEO Michael Kennedy will apply to get his job back after councillors decided Monday last week in a shock decision to advertise his position rather than to reappoint him. In an email to staff the day after the councillors’ decision, Dr Kennedy wrote: “I firmly believe that I am the very best person for the role of shire CEO.” Councillors made their decision after what is believed to have been a long and at times bitter meeting. Sources say that only three of the 10 councillors at the meeting voted to reappoint Dr Kennedy for another term. He has…

MORE than half of the 17 candidates in the keenly contested Red Hill ward byelection have been denied the chance to meet representatives of six ward residents’ associations and a shire-wide “post office” organisation. Only those candidates with an address in the ward – which takes in some 45 per cent of the Mornington Peninsula – were invited to put their views to a meeting last Thursday of the Red Hill Ward Consultative Group. One “local” candidate, Barbara Porter, did not receive an invitation as it was considered she does not spend much time in the ward. The groups that…

RED Hill ward voters will have a shire record 17 candidates to choose from when they cast their ballots for a new councillor on 23 August. The long list of names on the ballot paper is seen as a major win for the democratic process which in 2008 saw candidates in six of the then 11 single-councillor shire wards returned uncontested. Former Red Hill councillor Frank Martin entered council unopposed that year. He faced two opponents in 2012, one of whom is standing again this time. He resigned recently because of ill health. This election’s huge field is a disparate…

AS GAMBLES go, building the Southern Peninsula Aquatic Centre ranks with the punt of the Iowa farmer who, hearing a voice whisper “If you build it he will come”, ploughed in his corn crop and built a baseball field. Shazam! Up popped baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson (deceased) to flesh out the plot of ‘Field of Dreams’, an American fantasy film of 1989 starring the forgettable Kevin Costner. The “build” quote has transmogrified into “Build it and they will come”, a nice entrepreneurial spin line used to reel in the gullible. The question: “Who will come to the SPA?” demands…

VOTERS participating in the August poll for a new Red Hill ward councillor are being urged to “look for character and ability and try to see through the inevitable running mate strategy of politicised groups”. The tips for choosing the right candidate come from David Gill, a one-time shire president of the former Shire of Mornington and member of the Balnarring Beach Community Association. Mr Gill, who has criticised state government planning policies on the Mornington Peninsula, told The News on Monday that “at this stage I won’t be a candidate”. At this stage, it will be a three-way contest…

A BY-ELECTION will be held Saturday 23 August to fill the vacancy on Mornington Peninsula Shire Council created by the resignation of Cr Frank Martin. The outcome of a postal ballot will decide the new councillor for the Red Hill ward position held by Cr Martin for the past six years. Cr Martin resigned in May due to recent poor health. He was first elected in 2008 and served as mayor in 2011/12. The Red Hill ward – established in 2004 as part of the shire’s amalgamation – and includes Red Hill, Red Hill South, Main Ridge, Balnarring Beach, Somers,…

AN EXTRAORDINARY thing happened at last Monday’s Development Assessments Committee meeting. Apart from approving the proposed Arthurs Seat Skylift proposal, councillors voted unanimously to approve another matter, which the previous week they had unceremoniously thrown out. Or did they approve something significantly, or even slightly, different? It seems not. Here is the 26 May Notice of Motion from Cr Tim Rodgers (Nepean ward), which got the thumbs-down: “That the matter of Planning Application number P13/1830, in respect to Lot 5, 3080 Point Nepean Road, Sorrento be heard and determined by Council and not under delegation by Council officers and on…

Venue: Hastings Hub. Briefings as the entrée, followed by a meal, then the council meeting. A good crowd, that dwindled noticeably after dinner time. Apologies: councillors Graham Pittock and Bev Colomb. Cr Martin had resigned the previous Tuesday so only eight councillors present. IT WAS a meeting of two distinct parts, but with an air of tension over Part One, possibly emanating from councillors, who knew Part Two could well be lively. And so it was. Allow Council Watch to set the scene. The prologue: shire meetings are recorded via wi-fi microphones. These have been troublesome for months. They failed…