At a robust Council meeting last night a rescission motion to stop the Oval car park and retain the Whistler Street car park was lost 5/4 with the Liberal majority now pursuing "proposals from interested parties for the construction of the oval car park ..... and long term lease of the existing Whistler car park site for a mixed use development." This followed various representations from precinct groups, with a clear message that locals did not want this project to proceed.
At a meeting called by the Premier Mike Baird on April 9 with chairs from the precincts (6 precincts were present), there was agreement amongst the chairs that the clear view of the majority of the residents is that, as a consequence of the current confusion, the long history of changes in strategy by the Council and the potential financial risks associated with building a new car park under the oval, no decision to proceed with any car park development should be considered until after the next local Government elections.
Addressing the Council meeting last night Terry Le Roux, Chair of North Harbour Precinct, said there was no immediate need or imperative to take action on the Whistler St site or build new car parking capacity - it was entirely discretionary. “There is currently understandable confusion among the residents on this issue. Making a decision to delay and hold over any further work would demonstrate to the community that the Councillors are listening to the residents”, he said
Clr Steve Pickering, who moved the motion to call for proposals, said “We know there is concern and polarisation of views in the community. So we are trying to move forward. We will have an open and transparent brief. What better way to resolve the divergent community views, than to test the market?”
But the Independent Councillors remained firm stating that the redevelopment of the Whistler Street site was not acceptable to the majority of the community, and the viability of the oval car park was dubious at best.
Clr Candy Bingham summed it up by saying: “Just shelve it and be done with it. What a waste of time and money”.
However the recession motion was lost and the calling of proposals is to proceed.
What Has Been Spent on Manly 2015?
At the same meeting Cr Candy Bingham asked for a report on costs incurred since the Manly2015 masterplan to revitalise Manly CBD was launched in 2008. The report would include design and planning fees, marketing expenses, traffic studies, capital works undertaken to date, and so on.
The motion was knocked back on the grounds that it was a) too difficult to find out, and b) it had all been budgeted for anyway.
The knockback, predictably enough, came from each of the Liberal councillors, as well as one Independent who said he was trying to compromise.
The joke, or tragedy, was that this motion came straight after one where Liberal councillors trumpeted their intention to proceed with Manly2015 with complete "openness and transparency".
So how much has Manly Council spent on Manly 2015 and why won't they tell us?
The old Kiosk restaurant at Shelly Beach has been fully renovated and will be opening in May.
How does a new restaurant make friends with its neighbours? It invites 50 of them over for a free lunch.
The Boathouse, which is set to open its doors at Shelly Beach next month, has delighted locals by including them in a "soft opening" event.
Restaurant co-owner Andrew Goldsmith says the lunch will give new staff a chance to work with "real" customers, as well as giving locals a preview of Manly's newest eatery.
"The nature of the cafe business is that locals are crucial, " Goldsmith said at the Fairy Bower Precinct meeting earlier this month.
"What's important to locals - like breakfast - is important to us."
The Boathouse team won the lease for the Shelly Beach site, formerly occupied by Le Kiosk, early last year.
Goldsmith said they loved the feel of being "at the end of the line".
"It's such a fantastic location, we really want to do it justice," he said.
The Boathouse mix of good food in a relaxed space, with lush plants and beach house-style furniture, has made the restaurant a big hit in both its Palm Beach and Balmoral incarnations.
Ours will have all that, plus a shady landscaped garden and maybe even a waterfall.
The Boatshed will be open from 6am seven days a week, with dinner every night except Sunday. There's room for 80 people downstairs, with an upstairs event space for 70-80. The front facade of the heritage-listed cottage has been retained but most of the rest is new. The restaurant is licensed until 12pm, but upstairs events will finish at 11pm to decrease disturbance for neighbours.
Good For Manly enlisted the help of Troy the Trolley and put together a social media campaign to show that trolleys belong in the supermarket. Only.
During a 7 day campaign on Facebook, Troy the Trolley was featured in various unusual locations, with quirky captions to gain attention.
The focus was to highlight that trolleys are a convenience provided by supermarkets, and that it is up to users to return them, not abandon them.
And the results were terrific. The campaign gained many fun comments and likes, and Coles management has now increased their trolley collections from 3 times to 5 times a week in Manly. Coles also has an excellent smartphone app. called Trolley Collect which is available free from the itunes store. If you see a trolley you simply open the app. which uses GPS to notify Coles where the trolley is located.
Abandoned trolleys litter our parks, beaches and creeks. And the pavement is often littered with abandoned trolleys that end up used as rubbish bins.
Supermarkets do have appropriate technology, either coin-operated systems which encourage trolley returns, or wheel-lock systems which stop trolleys being taken out of the store in the first place. But customers don't like them, so the systems aren't much used.
Some councils have taken Coles and Woolworths on. Both Waverley and Willoughby councils require supermarkets to prevent trolleys being taken out of their stores, and Pittwater Council is considering fining supermarkets if their trolleys are dumped.
But what if people did the right thing in the first place?
Manly & Pittwater Councils have joined forces to reject the concept of one amalgamated Northern Beaches Council, and have commissioned KPMG to assess the financial stability and capability of both their Councils. (KPMG reports at end of article).
While Warringah Council is actively pushing for one large council it has not been successful in gaining support from its neighbouring Councils.
At an extraordinary meeting on 30 March, Manly Council voted unanimously to remain unchanged. Council rejected outright the concept of one mega council for the Northern Beaches citing the fact that of the 33 financially sound Councils out of 152 in NSW, three were are on the Northern Beaches.
At the meeting, it was resolved that Council affirm its support for the State Government’s ‘No Forced Amalgamation’ policy and continue supporting the Manly community’s long-held stance against structural change to the local area.
Good or Manly Councilllor, Candy Bingham, while supporting the no Northern Beaches Council stance, raised the possibility of boundary changes saying it was timely to explore inconsistencies in the current local area boundaries.
"It doesn't make sense that while Manly Council manages Queenscliff Beach, Warringah is responsible for Queenscliff Pool. Many also believe that North Balgowlah and North Seaforth should be in Manly, not Warringah", she explained.
Clr Bingham also questioned the fact that, should the amalgamation go ahead, the Northern Beaches would have four State Members, two Federal Members and one Mayor. "That's not local government by any stretch of the imagination", she said.
According the Manly Mayor, Jean Hay, the one big council idea is not a new one, and has in fact being explored twice in recent times. Firstly in 1978 and again in 2003.
"The 2003 attempt was a repeat of an attempt in 1978. At the time, Manly residents voted 4 to 1 against amalgamation with Warringah to form a single council on the Northern Beaches – there was no Pittwater then, It was formed later in 1992. In 1985 Warringah Council was dismissed. (The first time it was dismissed was in 1967.)" she explained.
During the month of May, Manly ratepayers will be asked to give their views on what they think should happen. They will be consulted on three options: 1. Manly remain unchanged; 2. Warringah to be split in half to from two Councils, Manly & Pittwater; or 3. one Northern Beaches Council.
How will you vote?
Leading up the State election, Manly became the target for ‘No Coal Seam Gas’ campaigns with the focus squarely on our local member, and Premier, Mike Baird.
The campaign to stop energy companies trashing our land and water runs on front line resistance in the bush, backed up by strong city support.
In Manly we were responsible for a lot of that support.
Locals filled St Matthews Church for a coal seam gas rally, and packed a screening of the anti-CSG film Frackman. And 250 people volunteered to knock on doors for the recent Giant Community Survey, which reached 8,000 Manly households.
The results, which were delivered to Mr Baird the following week, were overwhelming. Over 95% of respondents said they were worried about our farmland, forest and water and wanted the government to do more to protect them from fracking.
Shortly afterwards Mr Baird cancelled three of the four CSG licences covering Sydney's water catchment area.
Fierce community opposition to fracking in last month's state election was responsible for the demolition of the National's vote in northern NSW, after decades in power. It propelled the Greens to victory in two inner city seats, and produced strong results for green candidates in Manly and throughout the Northern Beaches.
Pablo Brait, Community Organiser of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW who co-ordinated the campaign said Manly people made a huge contribution to the anti-CSG fight, but the battle isn't over.
The largest of the CSG exploration license in our water catchment area is still there. As well a commercial CSG field at Camden, virtually a Sydney suburb, is having devastating effects on the houses nearby. Towns like Gloucester and Bulga in the Hunter Valley and beautiful Leard State Forest in north west NSW are all under threat.
A volunteer group has now been set up in Manly as has been done in many other suburbs of Sydney, to keep the pressure on to have all exploration licences cancelled in NSW.
Good For Manly, joins the Manly community in calling for a total ban on fracking or coal mining in water catchments, productive farmland and native conservation areas.
“Seeing the movie Frackman was a real eye-opener for me. It really brought home the unacceptable dangers CSG mining has on our water and environment. We are already seeing evidence in Queensland and NSW just how harmful this process is, and the harm it does to our environment,” said Good For Manly Councillor, Candy Bingham.
“It really is an issue that should not be political. Fracking must be stopped in NSW”, she said.
"Councils throughout NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria have all put their opposition to fracking on the record," Cr Candy Bingham said.
"It's disappointing that Manly Council has not done so. Particularly as there's no doubt about what Manly residents want."
Want to know more? You may find these links interesting:
1. State subsidies and royalties: http://www.tai.org.au/content/mining-age-entitlement
The TAI report at the link above looks at state-based (there’s also federal government) subsidies to the mining sector. It also talks about royalties. See page ten of the report.
The headline figures are:
· In 2013-14 NSW got $1.5 billion in royalties from mining, which is only 2% of state revenue. That is, mining is not as important to the NSW economy is the mining industry says it is.
· NSW spent $136 million in subsidies for this same sector that financial year.
2. Narrabri CSG project: http://ieefa.org/briefing-note-narrabri/
This briefing note looks at the likelihood of the Santos project in the Pilliga having any impact on NSW gas prices (they conclude it won’t).
3. Coal seam gas economics: http://www.tai.org.au/content/fracking-future
Twelve months ago The Australia Institute did an excellent review of the economics of coal seam gas. It looks at gas prices, economic activity and jobs. See link.
4. Upper house gas inquiry is here: http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/gasinquiry
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor, Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations & community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.