Sunday, June 22, 2014

$280k spent on Overseas Travel report

The Herald Sun has reported that the Melbourne City Council has spent in-excess of $280,000 on overseas junkets.

Melbourne City Council Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, "No more Junkets, has been on more junkets in his current term of office then previous years.

The council going so far as to restructure the payment of reimbursement to avoid listing overseas expenses on the Councillors expense register. Staff overseas and interstate travel no longer lists the department and inbound travel is now anonymous with allegation that  the Council has picked up the tab of others visiting the city in a reciprocal exchange for sponsorship of councillors trips, You scratch my6 back and I will scratch your" thus avoiding disclosure. In some cases the reciprocal trips are sponsored by subsidiary third party organisations that are closely associated or funded by the Council shifting the costs of travel from one account to another.  All councillor expenses are supposed to be reported in the Councillor expense registry but this no longer lists overseas travel which is only reported in the Council's travel register. Creative accounting at best.

Whats worst is the Council is using the tax expense deductions as a means of setting and determining a "per deim allowance".  Many Councillors trips costing rate payers in excess of  $2,000 to $7,000 a day with the Lord Mayor and councillors travelling business class at a premium rate no expenses spared.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Changing Plans: The slight of hand amendments to planning documents adopted by the City of Melbourne

The City of Melbourne stands accused of altering the draft Residential planning zones outside of meeting with one version presented and adopted by council and another published as the final report by Council

The report has altered with at least one additional schedule slipped in to the mix. . 

It is unclear what else if anything has been altered from the report presented and adopted by Council

This raises serious concerns as to the process and administration of planning.  How many other reports have been doctored and changed from that adopted by the Council that we have not been told about. Can we rely on the reports tabled and presented to Council?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Confidence in Council Planning in serious decline

Following on from the City of Melbourne's disastrous haphazard careless approach to the implementation of the State Government new Commercial 1 planning zones in which the City Council failed to fully assess or consider the impact of the new planning zones, the Council has once again ignored ratepayers concerns and opinion in the adoption of new Residential Planning zones.

In the Commercial One Zones (CZ1the City Council failed to address residents' concerns related to protecting residential amenity and the need to stem the tide of loss of residential retail shopping and the proliferation of licensed premises and cafe's in local residential shopping strips. An issue that took the City Council months to acknowledge and even then they still have not adequately addressed.  Incompetence or deliberate deceit on behalf of the city planning department is any ones guess..

The process of implementing the new residential planning zones has been not much better. Unlike the the implementation of the Commercial/Business zones the City Council did embark on a pretense of consultation, but the process has left a sour and bitter taste in minds of the local community groups.

The extent of dismay and frustration can be seen in the response provided by the Melbourne South Yarra residents Group president, Michael Butcher  to Melbourne CEO Dr Kathy Alexander

Micheal Butcher in his letter stated a number of concerns that are shared by numerous resident and community groups throughout Melbourne

The handling of this process has in our view been disgraceful and it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that from the outset  council decided they did not want any change or restrictions upon development and that this process would ensure that outcome. Ratepayers were given only eight days to consider the final and only substantive report with no opportunity to discuss it or to have any input.
The motion to adopt the unfettered recommendation was passed by a resolution of six councillors for: (Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, Deputy Lord Mayor Susan Riley, Crs Arron Wood, Kevin Louey. Beverly Pinder-Mortimer and Steven Mayne)  and five against: (Crs Richard Foster, Jackie Watts, Rohan Leppert, Cathy Oake and Ken Ong)

Copies of the audio and minutes of the June 3 meeting can be accessed on the City of Melbourne's web site.

Friday, June 13, 2014

SMIDNSY. The need for a more comprehensive City road strategy plan.

Melbourne's motorcycle safety advocates has been slow in seeking reform and a better safer road environment. One of the best advocates for motorcyclist and Scooter riders is Steve Bardsley. Whilst the City of Melbourne had promised to develop a rad safety strategy plan and consider motorcyclist/scooter riders when considering traffic management it has failed to date to deliver on its undertaking  The City must stop wasting money and resources on Copenhagen style bike lanes and develop a more cost and safety effective alternative design such as the Clarendon Street, East Melbourne solution and utilizing smaller alternative bike paths.  Bicycle lanes in the inner city along major routes should be shared with motorcyclists and scooter riders.