Manly is littered with cigarette butts. In our parks, on the beach, in laneways on The Corso. The situation has become worse as more Smoke-Free areas are introduced.
Do you support Council's current policy to provide no butt bins non-smoking areas, or is it time to recognise that smokers need somewhere to put their butts?
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Should a Councillor be actively promoting Council’s redevelopment plans during the public exhibition period?
No according to Manly Council who has demanded that Councillor Candy Bingham remove publicity-promoted images of Manly2015 proposals from her blog.
“It’s just the latest effort by Manly Council to gag me on this highly controversial multi-million dollar project for Manly”, Clr Bingham said.
“This whole process has not been open and transparent from the start, and its time Manly Council came clean on what the real costs are rather than using vague phrases such as ‘it’s bankable and affordable’”, she added.
Manly Council says the images are copyright. However when Clr Bingham requested permission to use them as part of her role as a Councillor to keep the public informed, permission was refused.
She has compiled with the Council's demand, but replace the images with the following messages, in protest.
This image has been removed by Order of Manly Council.
Sorry, so has this one. It would appear that even a Councillor can not promote these publicly available images.
You can see the pretty pictures on the Council's website here
Greens MP, David Shoebridge, has asked a series of questions in Parliament in relation to the necessary permissions and approvals required from the Government in relation to Manly Council's proposed car park under Manly Oval.
The General Manager, Henry Wong, has informed the Council that "all necessary permissions have been sought". Our own initial research would seem to question that. It will be interesting to see the answers to Mr Shoebridge's questions which will be on-line here from 16th September.
Manly Council is crashing through with their controversial oval car park/Whistler St redevelopment plan.
Strong opposition at the August general meeting (10/8/15), from a packed and angry public gallery and all four non-Liberal councillors, was ignored by the Liberal council block.
A vaguely-worded resolution for GM Henry Wong to “provide information to the public” about progress so far from the Expressions of Interest process was passed at the last meeting, despite outrage from the public gallery.
The full page ad in Saturday’s Manly Daily, and the new www.manly2015 webpage and E-Newsletter, is presumably the result.
But it doesn’t tell us anything much.
There are lots of pretty pictures (see above) and reassuring PR blurb. There’s also a new slogan - Manly2015 has become Revitalise Manly Beyond The Corso. But there are no hard facts. Nor is there a mention anywhere that the proposed car park has been reduced in size, therefore making it more 'affordable'.
What specifically is being proposed? Where will the traffic go? How much will it cost?
Good For Manly Councillor, Candy Bingham, who has been working tirelessly for more transparency around the process, is particularly concerned that the size of the Oval Car park has reduced dramatically, with no public input. "This proposal was initially sold on the fact that it would increase parking in Manly. We now find that in fact if will only replace what we already have, in a less convenient location with a large operations price tag", she said.
Major changes in the “vision” are not pointed out. Now, for example, the oval car park is a 500 car space affair. The plan used to be for 740 spots.
Cr Barbara Aird summed it up: “You can’t spin it anymore - this plan will not pedestrianise our CBD as was the original vision.”
The one voice of support came from Manly Chamber of Commerce president Mark Stanley. But he hedged his bets when asked if the Chamber supported the new smaller car park plan.
"Provided the car park can be scaled up and funds are available to do that, we're in support,” he said.
Specifically asked if Chamber members had been told the car park size had shrunk, he later admitted they had not.
Now the redevelopment of the Whistler Street site is being sold as a 'community benefit' on the basis of a 99 year lease to developers to demolish the car park and build more shops and apartments on the site. The Library will be rebuilt or refurbished as part of the deal.
This is serious. It will change our village centre for ever. Same goes for our heritage oval and “village green”. Many are questioning if the community benefits will deliver what the community actually wants.
The liberals say the project will be “cost neutral” and there will be “no need for a long term loan”.
But Good For Manly’s financial analysis experts say the figures - such as we have seen - don’t stack up.
A project as important as this can not be run by a council that takes any alternative view as a personal insult. Or that deliberately hides the facts, claiming convenient “commercial in confidence” constraints.
Or as Mayor Jean Hay kindly summed it up to the public gallery at last week's Council meeting: the more opposition there is the more determined we are.
These are the same people who were hell bent on selling off public-owned waterfront land at Little Manly Beach, until the Land & Environment Court made them stop. They are now building an ugly, over-size and over budget indoor leisure facility at the local swim centre. It’s way bigger than anyone wants and it’s trashing and encroaching on Graham Reserve along the way. And of course, no updated financials or progress reports have been provided, not even to the Councillors.
The “flagship” redevelopment of Short St/Manly Plaza is a flop, with beautification promises not being followed through. The Raglan St upgrade seems to be going the same way, with local retailers now being charged the same rates as The Corso for outdoor seating - even though the pedestrian traffic is minimal.
There’s a council election next year. Stop everything until then. After-all the Liberals do not have a mandate to go ahead. None of these massive Manly2015 projects were even mentioned in their election materials!
Manly Council has gagged independent councillors and blocked them calling for a halt on runaway plans to build a car park under Manly Oval and go-ahead with a 99 year lease of the Whistler Street car park site to developers.
The four independents, Clrs Candy Bingham, Barbara Aird, Hugh Burns and Cathy Griffin, had lodged a motion to stop any further action on Manly Oval or the redevelopment of the Whistler St car park site.
But that motion has been ruled out of order on the grounds that it contradicts previous council resolutions.
"This is a blatant attempt to block democracy," Clr Bingham said. "The council administration is illegally refusing to accept the motion because it doesn't suit them.
"If council resolutions could never by challenged, every single decision the council has made in the last 100 years would still stand. That's just ridiculous."
At stake is the future of Manly CBD with the Liberal majority expected to push through a motion calling for tenders to construct a smaller oval car park and redevelop the Whistler Street site.
If this is done the two huge projects will be locked in, despite the complete lack of clarity over what the tenders will actually be calling for, and the total absence of community consultation.
“It is an outrage. The whole expressions of interest process was for a car park that is quite different to what has been promoted to the community and Manly businesses since 2011”, Clr Bingham said.
"The new car park will only have 470 spaces, not the original 760 - a decision which was made with no consultation, not even with councillors themselves," she said.
"The latest plan does not provide any additional parking, which was a key point of the original proposal, and a very limited increase in areas for pedestrians. We are losing a locals car park for a tourists car park."
Clr Griffin agreed, saying that the original vision of Manly2015 has been lost, and there was a complete lack of community support for what is proposed now.
Clr Aird criticised the "ongoing lack of openness, accountability, transparency and genuine community consultation" on the biggest project Manly Council has ever taken on.
Clr Hugh Burns said his constituents were completely opposed to public land at Whistler St car park being sold off. "The public consider it too convenient to demolish," he said.
"It can easily be refurbished.”
Already a number of resident precinct groups have voted against both projects proceeding, and a request for an interim heritage order was lodged last week by former Manly Town Planner Robert Burgess, to protect Ivanhoe Park and the Village Green where Manly Oval is located.
There is expected to be a show-down at Monday night's Council meeting (10/8/15) when the matter is back on the agenda. A staff report has outlined in glowing terms how successful the Expressions of Interest process has been but has failed to acknowledge that the latest proposal will not deliver a single additional car parking space for Manly. The four independent councillors continue to fight the lack of accountability and transparency with the process which started in 2011.
Does anyone really know what the current Manly2015 Plan actually is?
An Interim Heritage Order has been sought from the Heritage Council to protect Ivanhoe Park & Manly Oval as a Heritage Item.
Manly Oval & Ivanhoe Park is listed as an Item of Heritage in the Manly Planning Scheme and no " excavation or development work “ can be undertaken until a Heritage Report is prepared and considered. No such report or consideration has been given although Council is proceeding to call tenders.
Ivanhoe Park & Manly Oval have significant Heritage & Historic value dating back to before Proclamation as a Park in 1887.
Many significant historical events have occurred on the Oval including the final practice match for the
Australian Aboriginal Cricket in 1868 prior there departure for a 47 game tour of England. This is additionally significant as they were the first Australian representative team of any sport to tour overseas.
It is believed that Manly Oval, in its natural context, is the best example in Sydney and possibly Australia of a Public Recreation Oval integrated into a "village" area. For this reason together with the rich history of recorded events which have taken place in the Park, careful preservation and celebration of this place is essential and is currently at serious risk.
Former Manly Council Town Planner and Urban Design Consultant, Rob Burgess, has headed a team of local historians which have championed the documentation of the heritage significance of Manly Oval in the light of the proposal to build a major car park under the site.
In addition, a community working group has been formed to prepare and lodge a request to the Heritage Council of NSW for the listing of Ivanhoe Park Manly on the State Heritage Register.
This decision was made at the Ivanhoe Park Precinct Committee meeting on 29 July 2015.
The group includes representatives from Ivanhoe Park, Fairlight and North Harbour Precinct committees, Stephen Richards from St. Andrews Church Management Committee, citizens Rob Burgess, David Barr and John Steggell with technical Heritage & Historic advice from Jim Boyce, Shelagh Champion OAM & George Champion OAM.
What are your memories of Manly Oval?
Manly's ability to preserve its own identity is under threat as the State Government pushes councils to amalgamate as part of its Fit for the Future program.
The threat to our community is that we will be absorbed into a greater Northern Beaches mega-council, where our population of 44,000 and seaside village identity will be lost in a sprawling 260,000-people mass.
The peak council body Local Government NSW has made a submission to the State Government which strongly argues for local government to remain local. It challenges the simplistic assumption that big is necessarily better and demonstrates that councils already benefit from economies of scale due to their participation in regional organisations.
The submission identifies lack of funding for councils as by far the most important reason for any financial difficulties. It says merging councils together will not resolve their financial problems unless the funding framework is fixed first.
It argues that the only sure beneficiary of council mergers would be the State Government, as it would have fewer councils to deal with. This would be a bad outcome for local residents who would inevitably find it harder to have their voice heard both at a council, and a state government level.
The submission's main points are:
1. Many NSW councils are financially insecure. There is a net sectoral operating deficit, meaning that as a group councils are living beyond their means. And a massive state wide infrastructure renewal backlog of $7.2 billion.
2. Rate pegging undermines the ability of councils to raise sufficient funds. NSW Councils have had their rate increases linked to a cost of living index for the past four decades. As a result NSW is the state with by far the lowest council rates. Rates per capita in NSW in 2012-13 were $499 compared to the national average of $633. Making up this difference would generate an extra $970 million a year, which alone would resolve the operating deficit and infrastructure renewal backlog. The problem is compounded by the capping of many council fees and cost shifting to councils as state and federal governments withdraw services or financial support.
3. Merging two or more councils together is a difficult job. To succeed the merger needs community support, strong leadership, robust planning, adequate financial support, full co-operation from the councils involved and compatibility across the areas being merged. Forced amalgamations may therefore not succeed and may need to be reversed. In 2013, less than five years after the government had forced them to merge, several Queensland councils voted to de-merge. The new councils had to bear the full cost of the de-merger process.
4. The costs of amalgamation will be significant. Issues include integration of IT systems, relocation of staff and premises, redundancy payments for senior staff and many more. While the State Government has offered some financial incentives to councils that volunteer to amalgamate, it will not be enough to fund the whole merger process.
5. The "best" size for a council depends on what services it's providing. Bigger can be better for purchasing materials or hiring contractors. But councils already benefit from these economies of scale through their regional organisations. Manly is already joined with six other councils to form NSROC - the Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, which services a population of 600,000. In contrast, services that require consultation with residents and flexibility, are better delivered on a much smaller scale.
6. The property development sector has pushed the view that Sydney's housing targets will be more easily met if there are fewer councils to deal with. The submission rejects this simplistic view. As well, the "problem" has already been addressed by the recent establishment of the Greater Sydney Commission, which will oversee planning targets across the metropolitan region.
7. The Fit for the Future process has been rushed. Council submissions had to be submitted by June 30 and a decision on the fate of each of the state's 152 councils will be made by the end of October. Then the entire amalgamation process is scheduled to be finished by September 2016, an unrealistic timeframe for such a difficult and complex project.
8. Surveys show that a majority of NSW residents say their interests will be less well represented if forced council mergers go ahead. Nearly all (93%) residents say they want to be involved in decision-making in their local area.
9. Local Government NSW's other recommendations include encouraging councils to make more use of debt, and strengthening regional council organisations so they can take on more responsibility for shared services and regional planning.
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.