Council meetings returned to the Council Chambers in Altona this week. Here is an update on the main topics discussed:
Councillor Question Time
I asked a number of questions regarding the new seaweed collection process, the Special Planning Committee meeting to consider the application for a 4 storey residential development on the corner of Merton and Queen Streets, Altona Meadows, and power outages in Altona North.
6.1.2 Senate Air Quality Inquiry
Air quality is a significant health and amenity issue for parts of Hobsons Bay, particularly with odours, dust and noise from industrial areas in Brooklyn and Altona North. At my request, the council administration put together a draft submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs for their Inquiry into the impacts on health of air quality in Australia. Refer – http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=clac_ctte/air_quality/index.htm
I moved the draft report be accepted and submitted to the Senate Committee, and am pleased the motion was unanimously supported by my councillor colleagues. The council administration also undertook to present to the Senate Committee if they have public hearings in Melbourne.
Note: The Maribyrnong City Council and Brimbank City Council also lodged submissions to the Senate Committee, and I lodged one as a councillor for Altona and Brooklyn.
6.1.3 Request for Street Name Change – Altona Meadows
The council was asked via a petition to change the name of a street in Altona Meadows that was unfortunately named after a local priest by the former City of Werribee. The priest, as it turns out, was later charged with two counts of indecent assault on two brothers, for which he pleaded guilty. He was to stand trial for other abuse allegations but died before the committal hearing.
The council administration “consulted” with the local residents about a possible change to the street name, but of the 30 responses, 21 (70%) opposed a change, and only 9 (30%) supported it. I think if the council called a local meeting and engaged properly with the local residents about the issue and suitable alternatives (including alternate street names and assistance with the burden of changing documentation etc), I think the outcome would have been different.
That said, I had to make a difficult decision – agree with the majority of residents in the street and vote against a name change, or make a principled decision about the suitability of a street being named in honour of a criminal. I voted for a change to the street name. I hope the residents in the street understand why I voted this way and am very happy to meet with any of them if they want to talk about it.
6.4.2 Proposed Increase to VCAT fees
The State Government proposed some obscene increases to VCAT fees recently, including fees for hearings involving objectors increasing from the current fee of $38 to over $1,000 by 2015. I requested that the council lodge a submission to the Department of Justice to oppose the fee hike, and am pleased the council unanimously endorsed the submission at the council meeting on Tuesday night.
It’s obvious these increases will make objecting to inappropriate developments out of reach for many residents, hence limiting and people’s access to the justice system.
6.4.3 Burns Road Industrial Estate
The Hobsons Bay Industrial Land Management Strategy 2008 identified the Burns Road Industrial Estate as a core industrial area, and included an objective to facilitate the restructure of the Estate subdivision so that it supports further industrial growth. It’s pleasing the council is finally taking the first steps to see this realised, but it’s going to be a long process.
The council will now take a number of steps and will write to all the landholders to advise them what we’re going to be doing. I am also pleased the council will be considering using all or part of the rates obtained from the Burns Road Estate to fund the necessary planning work that needs to be done for this area.