A $30m loan was prematurely drawn down by the General Manager of Manly Council, Henry Wong, just 7 days before the Council was merged, and only weeks after the tender was approved for the design and construction of a car park under Manly Oval.
This came to light at the Northern Beaches Council meeting on 22 November, when the Draft Financial Statements for the period ended 12th May, 2016 were released following questions raised at the meeting by Bruce Kitson.
In what appears to have been another totally improper action taken by the then General Manager, Manly Council was paying interest on a $30m loan, before the project even had development consent!
The 'authorisation' to draw down the loan was based on a vague resolution of Manly Council on 27th April, in closed session, when the Community Strategic Plan (CSP) was adopted. No public notice was given of this meeting. This again was highly irregular and believed to be illegal.
Not only was it usual for the CSP to be discussed in an open session of Council, but the matter was always on the Agenda for the June general meeting.
The April resolution was a further example of the disgraceful behaviour of the Mayor Jean Hay and Liberal Councillors of the former Manly Council who consistently used their majority vote to push this highly contentious project.
Following the merger of Manly Council into the Northern Beaches Council action was taken to pay off the surplus loan, following the cancellation of the project by the newly-appointed administrator, Dick Perssons.
Nonetheless, an unavoidable loss of $69,000 was incurred in interest payments and cancellation fees, money that could have been better spent on basic maintenance of neglected facilities around Manly.
We await with great interest the release of the independent reports commissioned by the Northern Beaches Council which resulted in the cancellation of the tenders. This is now expected to be made public early in 2017.
Manly's Royal Far West will start work on a new $35 million centre to replace the Elsie Hill building in Wentworth St in February next year.
The move into the 21st-century is thanks to a $10 million Federal Government grant which added to an existing $10 million grant from the State Government, means the children’s health care organisation can expand its reach way beyond the 3000 children it currently supports each year.
Key to the expansion will be a new Centre for Child Health and Learning that will function as a purpose-built technology hub.
The new $35 million centre will be built on the site of the existing Elsie Hill building in Wentworth St, which will be pulled down. Work on the six-storey building will start in February next year, and is expected to take about 18 months.
What sets Royal Far West apart is the community it serves - country kids who live in regional and remote Australia and don’t have access to health services that we take for granted. That includes treatments for problems such as speech and reading difficulties and behavioural and psychological concerns, as well as more traditional medical care. And while some consultations do need to be hands-on, many can take place remotely.
Royal Far West has been providing ’Telecare for Kids’ for some time, but the new centre will increase its online reach five times - to 15,000 children, and their families, each year.
No announcement has been made yet regarding future plans for the existing site on the corner of Wentworth Street and South Steyne where the charity will continue to operate until the new facility is opened.
It's taken almost a year and a change of council but the timber bridge at Clarence St Balgowlah has now been restored to its former glory.
The 90-year-old footbridge, which forms part of the Manly Scenic Walkway, was found to be unsafe last December, and closed.
Former Manly GM Henry Wong wanted to replace it with a metal structure, but locals fought back, saying steel would be out of place in the pretty bushland setting.
They won the battle and reconstruction work started in August under the new Northern Beaches Council. using sustainable hardwood timber, sourced from Lismore.
The bridge, which is just to the north of Forty Baskets Beach, spans a rocky gully leading down to North Harbour.
Meanwhile, back at the start of the Scenic Walkway, another timber structure has been declared structurally unsound.
Federation Point Boardwalk, which runs around the outside of Manly Pavilion, was closed last month as several of the walkway's support struts were found to be in a dangerous condition.
Repair work to replace the wooden struts, bolts and associated metal supports, is expected to take about three months in total, including a 6-8 week lead time for materials to arrive.
Northern Beaches Council, which leases the boardwalk from Roads and Maritime Services, expects the walkway to reopen in February of next year.
It's pleasing to see that initial teething problems experienced with the new indoor facility at the Manly Boy Charlton Swim Centre seem to be now sorted out, with Council been responsive to feedback and suggestions for improvements to the facility.
Former Manly Councillor Candy Bingham met with the Executive Manager of Aquatic Services, Peter Livanes of the Northern Beaches Council this week when a number of resident suggestions where discussed.
Initial concerns regarding disability access have been resolved by providing an entry in Balgowlah Road with disabled parking allocated nearby. According to Mr Livanes the wheelchair and hoist have also been well used.
Bright blue benches around the pools have been added with more to come. A lifeguard is stationed strategically so that the full kid's fun pool can be observed at all times, overcoming concerns that the blue wave wall feature obstructs full view of the pool from one side to the other.
While it was agreed that yes, the change rooms are too small (nothing can be done about that) and the configuration of the benches in the women's change room are awkward and take up too much room, the Council undertook to examine the following improvement suggestions:
Add some play toys in the kids pool; provide more benches/hooks so bags are not left on the wet floor; examine
concerns about kids safety around the spa area.
Put safety non-slip onto the concrete steps leading into the lap pool. Cover the sharp edges & corners of glass barrier with safety tops.
Provide more shade around grassy areas and have a temperature gauge for each of the pools.
Thank you everyone for your constructive suggestions on our Facebook page and to the Council for its timely response.
Amateur Swim Clubs
It is understood that negotiations continue between the Council and the Amateur Swim Clubs in relation to lane hire charges.
North Head Sewage Plant Still Pollutes, Still Smells.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) recently approved only one of the two additional digesters sought by Sydney Water for the North Head biosolids amplification project. As a consequence Sydney Water is currently reviewing the options that will flow from operating the plant with less equipment than they deemed necessary.
The need for the second digester was supported by the New South Wales Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
The EPA advised IPART that current load limits and concentration limits for some sewage treatment plants were derived many years ago. North Head licence load and concentration limits were set many years ago.
The quantity and composition of the material pumped into the ocean at North Head
The current EPA licence load limits the discharge into the ocean at North Head is 35,011 tonnes for solids and 5570 tonnes for oil and grease also the licence sets concentration limits for discharging solids, oil and grease into the ocean.
Licence Assessable Pollutants Load limits in kilograms
BOD (Coastal Water) (Biological Oxygen demand) 35010800 Cadmium (Coastal Water) 283
Chromium (Coastal Water) 3011
Copper (Coastal Water) 37583
Lead (Coastal Water) 3568
Mercury (Coastal Water) 60
Nitrogen (total) Coastal Water 7957000
Oil and Grease (Coastal Water) 5569900 Pesticides and PCBs (Coastal Water) 370
Phosphorus (total) (Coastal Water) 1909680
Selenium (Coastal Water) 2387
Total Suspended Solids (Coastal Water) 35010800
Zinc (Coastal Water) 51066
Under the EPA licence millions of dollars are paid annually by Sydney Water to the State Government for the right to discharge these pollutants from the Plant into the marine environment.
The impact of the cleaning process of the digesters
Sydney Water has operated the treatment plant with three digesters since September 2007 and each of these digesters needs to be cleaned and refurbished and this process takes a digester off-line for seven months. One digester was cleaned in 2014, a second one was cleaned in 2015 and cleaning of the third is due to be completed in December 2016.
Sydney Water’s digesters maintenance information indicates that a temporary increase in odours may occur during the cleaning process and recently, there have been days in succession when strong odours reached the two parking areas for viewing the harbour on the North Head Scenic Driveway.
In addition, the number of biosolids truck movements increase only in the first month when a digester is cleaned. Biosolids trucks still emit biosolids and deodoriser odours when moving through the streets of Manly.
Micro plastic particles entering the ocean
Treated effluent from the wastewater treatment plants is a pathway for micro plastic particles to enter the ocean.
This worldwide problem of plastic in the marine environment has made operators of wastewater treatment plants throughout the world seek solutions to the problem of micro plastics in effluent discharged to the marine environment.
We hope that the New South Wales government has decided that the problem should be looked at for North Head treatment plant.
We have not lost sight of the fact that the solution sought by Sydney Water for the North Head treatment plant has not been announced. We await a decision that will lead to a better outcome for the community and the environment.
Nearby residents were alarmed when an updated Development Application was lodged for the redevelopment of the old Civic Club site on the corner of Gilbert Street and West Promenade. However their concerns that the new proposal proposes an outdoor beer garden on the corner where the historic Auckland Garage is located, opposite Gilbert Park, has been quashed by the Civic Club.
The site has remained vacant for years, with original plans to construct offices as well as the Civic Club now abandoned. Instead the construction will be a new six storey mixed-use development, with alterations to the existing Auckland Garage building. It will comprise the Civic Club at ground level, and residential accommodation above (Levels 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5).
Car parking will be provide on two levels in the basement.
Of main concern to nearby residents is the turning of this corner of historic significance into an outdoor beer garden which they say will result in unacceptable noise and is an inappropriate use of this area opposite Gilbert Park.
Their submissions are calling for the restoration of the heritage garage building as an enclosed bistro area, with landscaping highlighting the significance of this corner.
However, a response from the Civic Club has made it clear that these outside areas are to be for dining only and are planned to be inside the old Auckland garage. They will be used for small tables of al fresco diners in a no smoking environment.
"There is not a great deal of room to accommodate a lot of people, anyway. The concept is to create a small, well-run club, offering an oasis for those who like a calm atmosphere, good food and pleasant company. We are very aware of all surrounding residents and those who will live in the proposed units above the Club, and have designed the Club accordingly" A Spokesperson from the Civic Club explained.
There are believed to be only two Auckland Garages left in Australia, so the significance of the one in Manly is important to the new development.
The DA process closed last week and the development will be assessed by the Joint Regional Planning Panel in the coming months.
Northern Beaches Council is hosting an information session this Saturday 19 November (10am to 12 noon) to present its proposal to make Balgowlah Plaza on Sydney Road a more friendly public space and a more dynamic shopping and dining precinct.
The project budget forms part of the Balgowlah Business Levy which has been earmarked for the Balgowlah Plaza upgrade project for some years.
Community members and local businesses are encouraged to attend and contribute ideas and feedback on the proposal, which is aimed at revitalising the retail strip by improving amenity, accessibility, ‘image and identity’, and attractiveness as a shopping, dining and community place.
The proposal includes new paving, street furniture and improved lighting to enhance appeal and safety, among other initiatives.
Northern Beaches Council’s landscape architect and other senior staff will attend the information session to outline the concept proposals, answer questions and take suggestions.
For more information and to make a submission visit yoursay.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au
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.