The same week the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, announced that there would be no further forced council amalgamations, the Northern Beaches Council launched its new logo and corporate look.
The clever new logo will be rolled out over the next fews months, marking the true beginning of the new Council, with the election of Councillors set for Saturday 9th September.
The timing of the Premier's announcement has proven unsettling for many however, who are now questioning why Manly Council didn't stand-alone and take legal action against the forced merger, as Mosman did.
It is important to remember that at the time of the proposed merger process there was huge community support for one Northern Beaches Council, driven mostly by the concerns of how dysfunctional Manly Council had become under the leadership of Liberal Mayor, Jean Hay.
I attended the public hearings where most people spoke in support of the merger. We were told by the authorities that more than 18,000 submissions had been received from the Northern Beaches, the majority in support of a merger. (It was interesting to note that of a total of 36,000 submissions received for the whole of NSW, half came from the Northern Beaches.)
Personally I believe that the new Northern Beaches Council will serve Manly ratepayers well. I am impressed by the level of professionalism of the new staff and the can-do culture. Good for Manly has already been very successful in getting things done for Manly and we can already see the major advantages of having just one big council.
It is a concern however that as our level of 'local' government, Manly will now have only three out of 15 councillors representing our area. Therefore we need to focus on ways and means of making the bigger council work to our advantage, and I would welcome a productive discussion on how this can be achieve. Any suggestions?
Although he said previously that he would leave the decision to an elected Council, Administrator Dick Perrson passed the Sportsground Strategy at the Council meeting this week, leaving the future of a 18 hole Golf Course at Warringah in doubt.
Although the development deed for the construction of the Manly Oval Car Park was cancelled promptly by the new administrator of the Northern Beaches Council, the matter of the outcome of the Whistler Street site has hung in the balance for many months while the Council undertook to negotiate with the successful tenderers, Built Athas.
It has recently been confirmed that the negotiations have stopped, and the Council has cancelled the development deed for the project, which was inexplicitly linked to the flawed Manly Oval Car Park Plan.
While it may be reasonable for Built Athas to claim their expenses in relation to the terminated contract (which was hastily pushed through by the Liberal bloc on the Manly Council prior to amalgamation), the organisation was also claiming for loss of profits, believed to be a figure of around $45m, which was considered unreasonable.
Built Athas cancelled the negotiation process, and no further action will be taken by Council at this stage.
This effectively terminates the debacle that was known as the Manly2015 Plan and a five year battle by Good For Manly to stop the highly-flawed projects.
In the meantime Save Manly Oval Alliance is preparing a submission to have Ivanhoe Park, including Manly Oval, listed on the State Heritage Register with the view to protect this area from any future development.
There have been many positive outcomes from the amalgamation of the old Manly Council into the new Northern Beaches Council but one aspect that locals have become concerned about is the protection of their parking rights.
While the introduction of the Northern Beaches parking sticker was seen as a way to unite the peninsula, and enables Manly residents to park for free at local beaches further up the coast, it has had the adverse effect of making parking at our local beach even more difficult, if not impossible.
Recently the new administration at the council moved to cancel the Manly Resident Card, an initiative introduced by Good for Manly to allow local residents to park for 3 hours free in the four council car parks in Manly’s CBD.
This was followed by the change, without notice, of the evening flat rate parking fee starting time from 7pm to 6pm. This sent locals into a spin. No longer could they pop into Coles on the way home for dinner supplies or to pick up takeaway nearby without being hit with an $11 parking fee. Community groups and local gyms were also adversely affected with customers now having to pay a $11 parking fee to attend a 6.30am class!
Candy Bingham and Good For Manly were quick to act, contacting the council, notifying the Manly Chamber of Commerce and preparing detailed submissions to council staff.
To their credit the new Council responded quickly. They put on hold the cancellation of the Manly Resident Card, which is to undergo further review.
The Evening Flat Parking Fee was changed back to 7pm within weeks.
However these changes demonstrated an important point. Parking is one of the biggest issues in Manly. It is scarce. Manly CBD is our local shopping centre and the local businesses need our support to survive.
The council’s current approach of ‘harmonising’ everything across the Northern Beaches needs to be challenged. One size fits all does not necessarily fit all when you have areas with special needs (and millions of tourists!)
Good for Manly is currently working on a parking plan for Manly locals. We will welcome your feedback once it is completed.
The proposed location of ventilation stacks for the Beach Link Tunnel have been released, alarming residents in Nth Balgowlah, Balgowlah and Seaforth.
While many accept that the tunnel is inevitable, the proposed location of stacks near schools and residences is totally unacceptable.
According to recent reports in the Sydney Morning Herald, there will be a tunnel entrance in Serpentine Crescent and ventilation stacks in either North Balgowlah (corner of Bangaroo Street and Serpentine Crescent ) or Balgowlah (Dudley Street).
It is not entirely clear from the diagrams whether the ventilation building will be near the corner of Bangaroo and
Serpentine, with the stack further away in Serpentine, or whether the two will be together.
If in Dudley Street, it is not clear where in the street this would be located. In all cases, the proposed stack is right beside houses, especially if a stack is located within North Balgowlah itself.
On the north western side, there is a tunnel entrance and a ventilation stack proposed for Judith Street in Seaforth. This also is right beside houses. The location will be coping with extra traffic due to the doubling in size of the Wakehurst Parkway.
While the RMS continues to hold public meetings, the information provided to date has been sketchy leaving residents feeling they are being kept in the dark.
Education Minister Rob Stokes was recently quoted as saying that “there was no way in hell” he would allow stacks near schools, and yet he allowed ventilation towers to be constructed near schools in the city’s inner west as part of WestConnex during his time as planning minister.
Clearly the plans are well underway for the $14billion underground toll road linking the Northern Beaches to the inner west as shown by the leaked documents to the Herald and ABC.
While it may be too early to confirm any design details about the project until geotechnical work is completed and an alignment developed, we must remain vigilant to ensure that any adverse impacts are managed to protect the health of our community.
Have you attended a public meeting? What do you think?
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.