Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lord Mayor 0.5 Piss up at ratepayers expense

Robert Doyle has been on the boozer racking up over $10,000 in plying his mates and associates with free alcohol (top shelf booze) to lubricate the discussions and Town hall deals. Any excuse for a party at no cost. of course Council CEO Kathy Alexander tries to justify the Free booze policy because a drunk Councillor is unlikely to pay detailed attention to what gos on behind the closed doors of Town Hall. after all if they all have their snouts in the tough they can not complain about others doing likewise. Doyle joins a host of ex-pollies that have suffered the "bit to much drink whilst on the job". Most notable being former disgraced Democrats Senate leader Andrew Bartlett who would turn up in the Senate chamber pissed as a newt abusing his fellow Senators.

Questions are being asked as to the Council's responsibility and right to supply alcohol to staff and guests. It certainly does not come under the umbrella of out of pocket expenses unless they mean "output of your pocket and into theirs" expenses.

The City Council is also liable for any accidents that might arise from staff who seek to over indulge in Christmas cheer sipping on free alcoholic drinks. Occupational Health and Safety might frown on such activities should a member of staff be injured or worst still injure someone else on the way home. Victoria Police are well advised to set up a booze bus near the Council car park exit

The free drinks LM booze bar should be closed down and if the Councillors and staff want a drink then they should visit a licensed bar outside of the Council and pay for their own drinks and not expect ratepayer's to pick up the tab.

The Sunday Herald Sun

LORD Mayor Robert Doyle has racked up a private bar bill of almost $10,000 in a single year.

Documents obtained through Freedom of Information reveal councillors and council staff spent $209,816 on food and alcohol in the 12 months to March this year.

The council's total alcohol bill was more than $44,245.

The cost of restocking the private bar in the Lord Mayor's office with beer, wine and spirits was $9652.66.

It included $1142 spent in March last year, $1163 last June and in October included six bottles of Bendigo shiraz at a cost of $144.

More ratepayer funds were used to buy a steady supply of chips and nuts for the office.

Councillors also have their own "refreshment room" where drinks are available free of charge.

Mr Doyle, who belted out a rousing rendition of Vanilla Ice rap track Ice Ice Baby at the council's Christmas party last week, defended the spending.

"The Lord Mayor's office hosts many civic functions for stakeholders, community groups, visitors and dignitaries as part of our official duties," he said.

"It is reasonable to provide food and beverage at these functions."

It seems Christmas cheer does not come cheap at the council either.

More than $20,000 was spent on a yuletide bash for staff last year.

Ratepayers also funded $625 for cocktails and $244.70 for drinks at an annual report "celebration".

More than $1300 was spent on food and drinks for a staff farewell.

And more than $2060 was spent on a dinner with Adelaide councillors.

Council chief Kathy Alexander recognised the council was funded by public money but also defended the food and alcohol spending spree.

"Councillors and administrative staff can incur reasonable expenses in the course of their work and are accountable for this spend within the annual budget," she said.

"The stock in the councillors' and directors' refreshment room is used for visiting dignitaries or meetings with relevant stakeholders.

"Councillors and senior administration staff regularly host meetings in their offices of both a formal and informal nature - and food and drink is sometimes served in these meetings."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pocket Parks: Planning for a sustainable future

Ravnsborggade visualisation, courtesy of the City of Copenhagen/Ekstrakt

Copenhagen - Pocket parks, a drop of urban green

Green cities are on the rise. Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is one of the cities trying to improve the urban environment and deal with the daily green needs and desires of its inhabitants. One way of doing so is pocket parks: Open green spaces at a very small scale, often created on vacant building lots or on irregular pieces of land.

Copenhagen has a vision of becoming the capital city in the world with the best urban environment by 2015. The enhancement of urban green is one of the tools for reaching this vision. Within the next 7 years, the municipality will establish 14 pocket parks throughout the city and plant 3,000 trees to create green streets and connections. The goal is that 90 % of all Copenhageners by 2015 can walk to a park, a beach or a harbour bath in less than 15 minutes.

A pocket park is a small park accessible to the general public. It is only a few house lots in size and typically created on vacant building lots or small irregular pieces of land. Functions include spaces for relaxation, meeting friends, taking lunch breaks, reading a book, play areas for children etc. Often pocket parks are placed around a monument, a historic mark or in relation to an art project.

"Pocket parks are a unique opportunity to create drops of urban green close to where Copenhageners live."
Klaus Bondam, Mayor for Technical and Environmental Administration, City of Copenhagen

The City of Copenhagen highlights 5 elements key to the creation of pocket parks in Copenhagen:
• Size
• A visible green element
• Openness and a positive image
• Demarcation and protection
• Identity and local community

A pocket park is defined as less than 5,000 square meters - less than half the size of a soccer field. The green element is visible and a clear priority, preferably with a focus on long-term solutions, i.e. vegetation that becomes more green and attractive in time. The park has to be open and inviting to everybody and signs have to be positive and informative. Special consideration must be given to lighting so the park feels safe, also after dark.

A characteristic feature of a pocket park in Copenhagen is that it has to be situated between other elements in the city; Buildings, walls, maybe a green wall, or art installations. A clear demarcation must be visible on three sides so that it stands out as a “pocket.” Each park will have its own identity and has to be developed specifically to the site in question. Involvement of local residents in the development process is important to ensure that the park fits the needs and desires of the local community.

Besides serving the local community, the establishment of pocket parks throughout Copenhagen also has the potential to benefit the overall urban climate. Communities with parks that meet their needs within walking distance are less likely to drive out of the city for nature experiences, thereby reducing pollution and traffic. Furthermore, pocket parks can potentially relieve pressure on the larger parks, thus allowing flexibility to devote larger areas of the parks to habitat and ecological functions.

In a city strategy from May 2008, the establishment of pocket parks in Copenhagen will go hand in hand with the creation of green streets and connections. The vision is to create a green liveable city with quality and variation which will be a role model in featuring urban environmental responses to global warming.

Green connection along the harbour front, courtesy of the City of Copenhagen/Ekstrakt
Green connection along the harbour front, courtesy of the City of Copenhagen/Ekstrakt