Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Giving with one hand, but taking away with the other

An officers' report to tonight's meeting of the City of Greater Geelong council recommends that landowners in the Central Road area of Clifton Springs can defer paying a 'special charge' for a new drain ... but at a cost of 5% p.a. interest. On a typical 'special charge' of $78,000, 5% p.a. simple interest over ten years increases the bill to $117,000; at compound interest, the bill rises to $127,000.

Three features of the report make it significant:
  1. The report reiterates the council's belief that the new drain will increase the value of local properties, thus conferring a 'special benefit' on local landowners that is reflected in the 'special charge' levied on their property. However, it accepts the principle (argued by DCSCA and others) that such an increase in value is only hypothetical - it is realised ONLY when a property is subdivided and/or sold. Consequently, the proposal is that a 'special charge' is payable only when a property is subdivided and/or sold. Good news! But ...
  2. The report proposes to charge each landowner 5% p.a. interest (it doesn’t specify whether this is simple or compound) on their special charge until they pay it. What is the 5% interest for? The report doesn’t say. However, the council incurs no continuing expense – it just has to make a one-off payment to the developer. Thus, charging 5% p.a. (simple or compound) creates a straight profit for the council.
  3. The report proposes that the council should institute the ‘deferred payment’ (at 5% p.a.) despite the fact that it hasn’t been published for public scrutiny and comment. In other words, officers are suggesting that a major change in policy should be just quietly introduced with no public consultation or discussion.
The proposals around the Central Road ‘special charge’ scheme set a precedent for the operation of the ‘special charge’ scheme across the whole Council. Consequently, DCSCA is alarmed that officers are proposing to introduce these policies without proper public scrutiny and comment.

A continuing argument The report represents the latest phase in an argument between the council and local landowners that began in February 2010.* Then, the council announced its intention to levy a Special Charge on local landowners to recoup money it has committed to a new, $1.5 million drain to serve the area. CoGG has split the cost of the drain with Melbourne-based Pinnacle Holdings, which wishes to build a retirement village in Central Road.

When the council announced the proposed 'Special Charge' in February, thirteen of the eighteen landowners liable to the scheme objected to the proposal, as did the Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association. On March 31, the objectors held a public meeting that featured on Channel 9's A Current Affair.

On 15 July, some of the objectors received a letter (postmarked 13 July) from the council inviting them to appear before an internal Submissions Panel established to review objections to the proposal, which would meet on 20 July, i.e. just three working days away. By Friday July 16, other objectors hadn't even received such a letter. DCSCA and others argued strongly to the Panel that three working days was insufficient notice and the Panel hearing was postponed to 16 August.

Submissions Panel chair Cllr. Jan Farrell told people who attended that the Panel would submit its recommendations to the council 'in October or early November'; and that each person who had made a submission concerning the proposal would be notified in advance of the council meeting at which the recommendations will be discussed, so that they can attend if they wish. DCSCA has received no such notice of tonight's discussion, other than seeing the item on the Agenda when it was published on Friday 10 December.

Some points to clarify DCSCA will ask these questions at the council meeting:
  1. When and from whom did council officers receive advice about the legality of proceeding with the option to defer payment - a policy that has not been exhibited for public scrutiny and comment?
  2. On what legal basis will the council proceed with this special charge scheme, given that it has generated objections from a majority (13/18) of landowners and that Section 163B(6) of the Local Government Act stipulates that such a scheme cannot proceed if it is opposed by a majority of those likely to be affected by it?
  3. Is the proposed 5% p.a. interest on a deferred special charge simple or compound; and how does the council justify charging landowners in Central Road 5% interest p.a., when the council will incur no continuing expense after it pays its share of the cost of the drain in Central Road?

* There have been several reports about this argument on drycliftdays. To see them, type 'Central Road' into the blog's 'Search' window.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Making new 'Friends'

People at a DCSCA Public Meeting established two new 'Friends' groups in Drysdale & Clifton Springs - 'Friends of The Foreshore' and 'Friends of The Basin'.

The DCSCA meeting - on December 1 2010 at SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre - attracted 25 local people, who heard Matt Crowley, from Bellarine Catchment Network and Peter Beresford, from Bellarine Landcare, describe what each organisation does and how it could help a 'Friends of ...' group to become established. In the ensuing discussion, people asked how to set up 'Friends' groups and how they operate elsewhere.

Several people at the meeting were sufficiently keen to conserve and promote The Foreshore and The Basin to establish a 'Friends of The Foreshore' and a 'Friends of The Basin'. Each group is already planning a get together 'on site' to familiarise themselves with it and to discuss what needs to be done to conserve and promote it; and each group has decided that it would like to see its site targeted in Clean Up Australia Day early in 2011.

DCSCA called the Public Meeting to launch its campaign for an Open Spaces Network - a collection of local open spaces connected by walking and/or cycling tracks. Each open space in the Network will be kept as simple and open as possible, highlighting its natural characteristics and views and featuring appropriate local indigenous plants; and each will have its own 'Friends of ...' group to assist in its upkeep.

As development proceeds apace in our towns, land becomes more valuable - especially open space. The Open Spaces Network identifies major open spaces in our towns as a way of preventing them being bought up for 'development'. The first two sites in the Network are The Foreshore (in the general area of the Dell) and The Basin (off Gillies Road). Others include Lake Lorne, Springs Street, Quarry Park, Griggs Creek and Beacon Point.

For more information about 'Friends of The Foreshore' and/or 'Friends of The Basin', contact DCSCA: E-mail dryclift@bigpond.com OR P.O. Box 581, drysdale 3222.

Bellarine Catchment Network: http://corangamite.landcarevic.net.au/bcn
Bellarine Landcare:
http://corangamite.landcarevic.net.au/bellarine/about-the-bellarine-landcare-group

(Photo of The Dell by Linda Gallus)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Don't fence me in!

DCSCA’s next Public Meeting is on Wednesday 1 December at 7.00 p.m. Its topic is the continuing loss of open spaces in our towns as more and more land is built on; and DCSCA will launch a proposal for an Open Spaces Network.
The meeting will feature speakers from:
  • Bellarine Catchment Network
  • Bellarine Landcare
  • City of Greater Geelong
  • Department of Sustainability & Environment.

Drysdale & Clifton Springs residents are discovering that their towns' open spaces and paddocks are disappearing in favour of housing estates and shops. Planning controls can ensure that new developments include open spaces, but a manufactured park within a housing estate or next to a shopping centre is rarely in a prime location with good views and beautiful surroundings. Such locations are very attractive to developers and, as each one is built on, the community loses another open space.

To strike a balance between no development at all and development that’s in the community's interest, DCSCA wants to create an Open Spaces Network, connected by walking and/or cycling tracks. Why a network of open spaces? Simply because it's more effective and efficient to argue for a network than to argue for each site individually. Each site in the proposed Open Spaces Network would be kept as simple as possible, highlighting its natural characteristics and featuring appropriate local indigenous plants; and each will have its own 'Friends of ...' group to assist in its upkeep.

The meeting is on 1 December at 7.00 p.m. at Springdale Neighbourhood Centre in Drysdale High Street. We invite everyone to listen to the speakers and then HAVE YOUR SAY about our threatened open spaces ... and consider joining one of the 'Friends of ...' groups.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Festival of Glass attracts council support

The City of Greater Geelong has shown its confidence in the Festival of Glass by investing $6,000 in it. The money will help to pay for the costs of infrastructure, marketing and promotion associated with this unique event. Imagine the celebrations at the Festival Committee!

DCSCA initiated the Festival of Glass earlier this year and we are very pleased indeed that it has attracted the council's support. The $6,000 is the result of an independent assessment of the Festival of Glass by the council's local experts in conference organisation. Their support reaffirms the vision behind the Festival and recognises the Committee's hard work to bring that vision to life. It also gives a tremendous boost to the artists, craftspeople and business who have expressed their confidence in the Festival by agreeing to participate in it.

The Festival Committee had asked the council for its support via its Community Festival grant scheme, which is run by the council's Arts & Culture department. In September this year, the Committee submitted to the council a detailed description of the Festival's aims, of its planned outcomes for participants and of its planned benefits for local people and visitors, together with a detailed budget and marketing proposal. In early November, the Committee heard that its application had been successful.

For more information about the Festival of Glass, please visit the Festival's blog:
www.festivalofglass.blogspot.com

Friday, November 12, 2010

DCSCA meets Cllr. John Doull (4)

On 12 November, DCSCA Committee members were due to meet Councillor John Doull in Drysdale, but he didn't appear. This was to have been the fourth of a series of quarterly meetings that DCSCA has initiated with the two Councillors whose wards coincide with DCSCA's area - the other is Councillor Rod Macdonald, with whom we had our fourth quarterly meeting on 5 November.

We had agreed the date and time of this quarterly meeting with Cllr. Doull when we met him in August. We confirmed them on October 4 when we sent a suggested agenda for the meeting. Having received no reply, we e-mailed Cllr. Doull on 11 November, but received no reply.

Perhaps there's been some communication breakdown.

Our next quarterly meeting with Cllr. Doull is due in February 2011.

Would you like us to discuss any issues with Cllr. Doull at that meeting? If so, please leave a comment below, e-mail DCSCA (dryclift@bigpond.com) or write to DCSCA at P.O. Box 581, Drysdale 3222.

DCSCA meets Cllr. Rod Macdonald (4)

On 5 November, DCSCA Committee members met Councillor Rod Macdonald in Drysdale. This was the fourth of a series of quarterly meetings that DCSCA has initiated with the two Councillors whose wards coincide with DCSCA's area - the other is Councillor John Doull, with whom we will have our fourth quarterly meeting on 12 November.

First, we said that we had still not received a reply from Mr. Paul Jamieson (CoGG's Manager of Community Development) to DCSCA's letter to him in January about CoGG proposals for Drysdale Town Centre. Cllr. Macdonald had said at our quarterly meetings with him in May and in August that that he would raise this with Paul Jamieson, but he hasn't had a reply; so he'll contact Paul Jamieson again. We emphasised that our letter presents significant local concerns about the proposal, which is why we are calling so persistently for a reply; and that we want to see this issue resolved before there is any movement towards a next phase of the proposed development.

On the broader topic of community consultation, we asked Cllr. Macdonald whether he knew of any progress in CoGG's internal review of its consultation policies, but he didn't.

Then we asked about progress on the proposed sports centre in Andersons Road, Drysdale. Cllr. Macdonald said that CoGG has allocated money in its 2010/11 budget to create a more detailed proposal. CoGG has applied to the state government for a $2m contribution towards the cost of creating Stage 1 of the sports centre and is hoping for decision before the state election on November 27. If the application fails, CoGG will try to get the money from various other sources, including sporting bodies and organisations promoting social inclusion.

Next, we raised our continuing concern that the proposal to upgrade facilities at Lake Lorne in Drysdale, including building a walking track around it has stalled. (DCSCA initiated this proposal in 2007.) No money is allocated to it in the council's 2010/2011 budget and it looks like no work will be possible until July 2011 at the earliest.* We asked if there is anything that DCSCA can do to restart the project; Cllr. Macdonald said that he would investigate the current state of play and report back to us.

Onto a fairly simple topic: how do we get the 'welcome/what's on' signs at the entrances to Drysdale & Clifton Springs that most other Bellarine towns have? Cllr. Macdonald said that he would explore the process and report back to us.

Our last topic was increasing local economic development and employment. We started by referring to several stories in the local press recently about the CoGG's recent decision to re-rate small Bed & Breakfast establishments from 'Residential' to 'Business', leading people who offer B&B in their home to say that the significant increase in their rates will cause them to close down. We asked Cllr. Macdonald whether CoGG has evaluated the economic effects (let alone the social effects) of this policy; and how it fits with CoGG's economic strategy of promoting the Bellarine as a tourist destination. Cllr. Macdonald said that revaluing property is a state government requirement and that CoGG performed it on behalf of the state government; that the level of rates on a property is a percentage of that property's value; and that people can appeal against their rates in CoGG's annual review of rates between January and March.

We then talked more broadly about how the council could promote new businesses in the area. We suggested that DCSCA's Festival of Glass (20 February 2011) would be a perfect occasion on which CoGG could announce new support for small art and craft business on the Bellarine (e.g. business advice, assistance to explore new markets, rates relief). Cllr. Macdonald suggested that we approach Geelong Chamber of Commerce for advice and said that he would contact the CEO of the Chamber to alert her to our interest.

Finally, we brought Cllr. Macdonald up to date with recent DCSCA actions. First, work continues on our two 'arts' projects - the Festival of Glass and From Streetscape to Artscape - and we hope that we will hear in November whether our applications to CoGG for funds for each project have been successful. Second, DCSCA is developing a comprehensive proposal for a local Open Spaces Network. Each piece of open space in the network will have a 'Friends of …' group and will be linked to the others by walking/cycling tracks. DCSCA will launch the proposal formally at DCSCA's next Public Meeting:
'Forming "Friends of ..." groups in our community'
December 1 at 7.00 p.m. at SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre in Drysdale High Street.
Speakers from the Bellarine Catchment Network, Bellarine Landcare, the City of Greater Geelong and the Department of Sustainability & Environment.

DCSCA's next quarterly meeting with Cllr. Macdonald
will be on Friday 4 February 2011 @ 10.00 a.m. @ 'Zoo', Drysdale High Street.

Would you like us to discuss any issues with Cllr. Macdonald at that meeting? If so, please leave a comment below, e-mail DCSCA (dryclift@bigpond.com) or write to DCSCA at P.O. Box 581, Drysdale 3222.

* For more information on this issue, see 'DCSCA meets Cllr. Rod Macdonald (3)' elsewhere on this blog.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Up next ... the status quo!

The authors of a Community Plan for a Springs Street Reserve heard today that the City of Greater Geelong will not meet local people’s wishes and rezone open land at Springs Street, Clifton Springs.

The authors heard the news at Geelong City Hall, at a meeting arranged by Cllr. John Doull and also attended by Mr. Jeff Wall (CoGG Manager, Corporate Services), Mr. Alan Grant (CoGG Property Advisor) and Mr. Paul Jane (CoGG Manager, Sport/Recreation).

The Community Plan proposes that CoGG rezone the open space in Springs Street, Clifton Springs, from Business to Open Space. Cllr. Doull said that the council didn't want to see the land 'locked up' as Open Space for community use because, according to an internal council estimate, it is worth more than a million dollars. While the whole area can't be developed because a creek runs through it, parts of it certainly could be.

More than 180 local people around Springs Street had said that they'd like the area retained as open space, but Mr. Grant said that local people always say that they'd like open space nearby. He said that the council asked local people for their views on the area when they published the proposal to rezone it for housing.

Mr. Wall said that the council had no plans to do anything with the land 'at present', but the Plan's authors pointed out that the council had created uncertainty about the area's future by proposing recently (in Amendment C194) to rezone the area for housing, contradicting its own Structure Plan for Drysdale & Clifton Springs.

Mr. Jane said that council policy is to create Open Space where people have none within 400 metres of their front door; and that from this perspective, the presence of the nearby Dell means that the Springs Street area needs no more open space. The Plan's authors pointed out that The Dell is inaccessible to older people, to people with disabilities, to children and to parents with prams and pushchairs.

The Plan's authors thanked Cllr. Doull for arranging the meeting and thanked him and the officers for their time. The original invitation to the meeting had said that Cllrs. Richards and Mitchell would attend, together with Mr. Stephen Griffin, Chief Executive Officer for CoGG. Each sent his apologies for absence.

Background In April and May, DCSCA members and friends developed a Community Plan for a Springs Street Reserve. (See 'Community Plan authors await councillors’ response’ [July 23] elsewhere on this blog.) On June 24, they submitted the Community Plan to local Councillors John Doull and Rod Macdonald, together with Cllr. Andy Richards (Parks and Gardens) and Cllr. John Mitchell (Mayor) and asked for a meeting to discuss the Plan. They received an acknowledgment of receipt ... and nothing else.

Subsequent attempts over seventeen weeks to 'follow-up' by asking Cllrs. Richards and Doull to indicate when the Plan's authors might receive a reply - let alone an invitation to discuss their Plan - have led to nothing, apart from a courteous e-mail from Cllr. Macdonald saying that he believes that communication on the issue should go via the ward Councillor, John Doull.

Four weeks ago, in response to formal questions from the Plan's authors at a Council meeting (September 28), Cllrs. Doull and Richards each said that a meeting between themselves and the authors of the Plan is imminent; and Cllr. Richards said that the open space in Springs Street should be formally rezoned as Open Space.

Monday, October 18, 2010

At last! After seventeen weeks!

Seventeen weeks after asking local Councillors for a meeting to discuss a Community Plan for the open space near Springs Street, Clifton Springs, the Plan's authors have been invited to City Hall for a discussion with Councillors and officers.

The discussion will take place at City Hall on Thursday October 21st, 12.00 - 1.00 p.m. Councillors Mitchell, Doull and Richards will be accompanied by four senior council managers; the authors of the Community plan will be among five representatives of the Save Our Springs Street Open Space (SOSOS) group and the Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA).

The SOSOS and DCSCA representatives have proposed a three-item Agenda:
  • A presentation by SOSOS and DCSCA (10 minutes)
  • Councillors' responses and an ensuing discussion (35 minutes)
  • Summing-up (5 minutes by each side).
A report of the meeting will appear on this blog soon afterwards, so watch this (open!) space.

Background In April and May, DCSCA members and friends developed a Community Plan for a Springs Street Reserve. (See 'Community Plan authors await councillors’ response’ [July 23] elsewhere on this blog.) On June 24, they submitted the Community Plan to local Councillors John Doull and Rod Macdonald, together with Cllr. Andy Richards (Parks and Gardens) and Cllr. John Mitchell (Mayor) and asked for a meeting to discuss the Plan. They received an acknowledgment of receipt ... and nothing else.

Subsequent attempts to 'follow-up' by asking Cllrs. Richards and Doull to indicate when the Plan's authors might receive a reply - let alone an invitation to discuss their Plan - have led to nothing, apart from a courteous e-mail from Cllr. Macdonald saying that he believes that communication on the issue should go via the ward Councillor, John Doull.

Three weeks ago, in response to formal questions from the Plan's authors at a Council meeting (September 28), Cllrs. Doull and Richards each said that a meeting between themselves and the authors of the Plan is imminent; and Cllr. Richards said that the open space in Springs Street should be formally rezoned as Open Space.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Regional Victorians urged to join trial

The Victorian state government is now inviting households wishing to be part of its five-year trial of electric vehicles to submit Expressions of Interest. (See Hitching a ride on an electric vehicle trial on this blog 28 September 2010).

Initial press reports gave the impression that the trial was going to be conducted primarily in Melbourne, but yesterday Victoria's Regional and Rural Development Minister Jacinta Allan made a point of inviting people in regional Victoria to participate.

About 60 vehicles will be used in the trial, provided by Blade Electric Vehicles*, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan and EDay Life. Public charging infrastructure will be supplied by Better Place, ECOtality and ChargePoint.

Participants must have a valid driver's licence. To submit an expression of Interest, you'll need a recent electricity bill and an idea of your household's annual income. Go to the RACV's website (www.racv.com.au) and click '3' on the rolling graphics at the top of the home page. This will take you to an online survey, followed by the Expression of Interest. One of the questions on the online survey asks for the number of your electricity meter - which is why you need a recent electricity bill. It also asks you for your annual household income (but doesn't say why).

Good luck! Please let DCSCA know if you're successful (either leave a comment on this blog or e-mail dryclift@bigpond.com).

* Blade Electric Vehicles, in Castlemaine, sells its Blade Electron vehicle (a modified Hyundai Getz) to government, business and private users across Australia and New Zealand.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hitching a ride on an electric car trial

DCSCA is exploring how Drysdale & Clifton Springs can make use best use of the Victorian Government's five-year Electric Vehicle Trial, which is due to start later this year.

The trial aims to understand how Victoria can best make the transition to electric vehicle technologies. It will include around 60 passenger cars, light commercial vehicles and two-wheelers (such as motorbikes), rotating between different households and fleets. It will include 76 companies, such as providers of electric vehicles and infrastructure, electricity retailers and fleet operators.

Later this year, the Victorian Department of Transport and the RACV will select 180 households from those interested in taking part in the trial. Each household will receive an electric car for three months. Households will pay for their own electricity during the trial (but will find it's cheaper than filling up with petrol), and will record data about their experience.

DCSCA's interest in the electric car trial's potential for the Bellarine accompanies its suggestion that the proposed trial of an electric car service for Geelong should include Clifton Springs; and its bid for a Green Zone Drive event - highlighting low emission vehicles - for the Bellarine. Each of these events could be a foundation for a post-carbon economy and DSCSCA is keen for the Bellarine to be seen as a 'case study' or 'demonstration project' of such an economy. (See related postings on this blog: 'Bellarine electric cars' 6 August 2010; 'Councillor carries locals' hopes to Tokyo' 27 September 2010; 'A "Green Zone" event for the Bellarine?' 28 September 2010.)

The electric vehicle trial will help to raise public understanding and acceptance of electric vehicles and will address the barriers to their adoption. It will collect information on the growing market for electric vehicles in Victoria, on electric vehicles' performance and efficiency and on their implications for electricity demand and for gas emissions.

Other countries - including the UK, Canada, the USA and Portugal - are holding trials of electric vehicles. The Victorian trial will examine how different technologies, approaches and providers work together; and will involve several types of vehicles, several charging infrastructure providers and several electricity companies, reflecting the variety of providers and approaches that are likely to develop in the market.

A combination of manufacturers' data and desktop analysis shows that electric vehicles powered by Victorian-produced coal-fired electricity produce slightly more greenhouse gas emissions than comparable petrol vehicles. However, electric vehicles have no exhaust emissions, thus improving air quality in areas of heavy traffic.

For more information, go to 'Projects' at http://www.transport.vic.gov.au

A 'Green Zone' event for the Bellarine?

DCSCA has asked the organisers of a test-drive of low emissions vehicles (LACs) in Melbourne next month to consider holding an equivalent event in Geelong and Clifton Springs.

The Melbourne Green Zone Drive - a collaboration between Victoria's Environmental Protection Agency and the RACV - gives drivers the chance to test drive low emission vehicles (LEVs) from Audi, BMW, Citroen, Ford, Hyundai, Mini, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Volvo. (The illustration accompanying this post is the Green Zone logo.)

The drive along a predetermined route through Docklands lasts only a few minutes, but is long enough to demonstrate the everyday performance of LEVs. Test-drivers will be accompanied by a representative of the presenting car company who will describe the vehicle's environmental friendliness of the vehicle and explain the company's approach to sustainability.

DCSCA's proposal for an equivalent event in Geelong and Clifton Springs follows its suggestion that a proposed trial in Geelong of the Better Place electric car system should include Clifton Springs. (See 'Bellarine electric cars' on this blog, August 6 2010.)

The Green Zone Drive accompanies The Green Zone Expo, which explains current and near-future low emission technology in simple terms and displays some innovative vehicles. It will be based outside the Fox Classic Car collection on the corner of Collins Street and Batman's Hill Drive.

Green Zone Drive runs between Saturday 2 October and Friday 8 October, from 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. For more information: http://www.greenzonedrive.com.au

Monday, September 27, 2010

Councillor carries locals' hopes to Tokyo

Clifton Springs- based members and friends of the Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA) will watch with particular interest this week as City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) Councillor John Doull visits the Better Place electric car trial in Tokyo.

Before his departure last week for Japan, Cllr. Doull said on the CoGG website that he had received, 'significant positive feedback from my local community on the electric vehicles project'. DCSCA has provided a significant element of that feedback. When his visit to Japan was announced, DCSCA wrote to Cllr. Doull asking for Clifton Springs to be included in any trial in Geelong of the Better Place electric car system and told Better Place directly that we'd made the request (Bellarine Times, 17 August 2010, p1). Subsequently, DCSCA has maintained our link with Better Place. (See 'Bellarine electric cars' on this blog, August 6 2010.)

Last year, we read with interest Cllr. Doull's report of his visit to the Copenhagen summit on climate change and we expect his report on his visit to Japan to be just as interesting. Bon voyage, Councillor!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jobs and Wealth in our Community

There are lots of plans for the population of Drysdale & Clifton Springs to grow, but without equal planning for the economic growth of the towns, they are likely to grow into 'dormitory towns' for Geelong and Melbourne.

Drysdale & Clifton Springs form a designated 'growth area' on the Bellarine Peninsula. This means that their population will increase significantly over the next few years - starting with the 1,500 houses in Stage 1 of the Jetty Road development. This will change the town's character. Not least, it will mean that more and more local people will have to commute to Geelong or Melbourne. Why? Because while there are lots of plans to increase the population, there are no plans to provide them with jobs when they move here.

In the absence of any plans to grow the local economy, commuters from Drysdale & Clifton Springs will be forced to create wealth elsewhere - wealth that won't be invested in Drysdale & Clifton Springs. No new investment means no new local jobs and firms ... so more commuting!

At present, public transport on the Bellarine is so poor that there is little alternative but to commute by car. Not only is individual commuting an inefficient form of transport, it is a significant source of greenhouse gases, including Carbon Dioxide. Without an economic plan for the area, an increasing population will inevitably lead to increased commuting and increased greenhouse gases.

Jobs and wealth in our Community: growing the local economy in Drysdale & Clifton Springs
Wednesday 22 September 7.00 p.m. Springdale Neighbourhood Centre, Drysdale High Street.
This is the latest Public Meeting organised by the Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA) and it will incorporate DCSCA's Annual General Meeting. Hear speakers from local businesses and business associations talk about the state of the local economy and its prospects for growth and Have Your Say.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bellarine associations meet senior council managers

On 9 September, senior managers from the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG), led by Chief Executive Stephen Griffin, met representatives of the Affiliation of Bellarine Community Associations ABCA) for a second time. ABCA had arranged the first meeting on June 18 and Stephen Griffin initiated this follow-up.

The second meeting consolidated the work of the first around four issues:
1. Communication with CoGG on Bellarine-wide issues. ABCA people had asked in the first meeting for a liaison person within CoGG with whom to raise Bellarine-wide issues. In this second meeting, it was agreed that Stephen Griffin's office would be ABCA's first point of contact for operational issues; and that the ABCA will convene a meeting with the four councillors representing the Bellarine to discuss Bellarine-wide policy issues.
2. CoGG consultation policy. CoGG is reviewing its approach to consultation, drawing on the work of the International Association for Public Participation (IAPP). ABCA people had emphasized in the first meeting that CoGG's current policy includes no benchmarks of excellence or audit mechanisms to see if they're met; and highlighted a similar lack in the IAPP material.
3. Long-term plans for the Bellarine. In the first meeting, Stephen Griffin had described the ABCA as the peak body for community issues on the Bellarine and that ABCA would be invited to be part of CoGG's 2011 mid-term review of the Bellarine Strategic Plan.
In this meeting he said that the G21 Regional Land Use Plan (G21RLUP) will govern where, when and how development will occur in the G21 region(including the Bellarine Peninsula); and that the authors of the G21 Regional Land Use Plan will draw on the Bellarine Strategic Plan and other strategic and structure plans.
It was agreed that the 2011 mid term review of the Bellarine Strategic Plan could take place as part of the G21RLUP process and that the ABCA should a) liaise with equivalent regional organisations elsewhere in the G21 region to foster 'community ownership' of the Plan; b) hold a regional forum to discuss the Plan's draft proposals when they are released in late 2011 or early 2012.
4. Infrastructure on the Bellarine. The ABCA has developed a comprehensive plan for upgrading regional infrastructure. It was agreed that ABCA should submit its plan to the Project Steering Group of the G21 Regional Land Use Plan and should request involvement in the G21RLUP process.

It's fourteen weeks now, Councillors!

Fourteen weeks after asking local Councillors for a meeting to discuss a Community Plan for the open space near Springs Street, the Plan's authors still have no reply.

In April and May, DCSCA members and friends developed a Community Plan for a Springs Street Reserve. (See 'Community Plan authors await councillors’ response’ [July 23] elsewhere on this blog.) On June 24, they submitted the Community Plan to local Councillors John Doull and Rod Macdonald, together with Cllr. Andy Richards (Parks and Gardens) and Cllr. John Mitchell (Mayor) and asked for a meeting to discuss the Plan. They received an acknowledgment of receipt ... and nothing else.

Subsequent attempts to 'follow-up' by asking Cllrs. Richards and Doull to indicate when the Plan's authors might receive a reply - let alone an invitation to discuss their Plan - have led to nothing, apart from a courteous e-mail from Cllr. Macdonald saying that he believes that communication on the issue should go via the ward Councillor, John Doull.

At a Council meeting on September 28, Cllrs. Doull and Richards each said that a meeting between themselves and the authors of the Community Plan is imminent; and Cllr. Richards said that the open space in Springs Street should be formally rezoned as Open Space.

Watch this (open) space!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Waterworks in Jetty Road - further update


For residents of Jetty Road, Saturdays are becoming like weekdays - full of the noise and traffic disruption associated with the excavation and construction works at Barwon Water's two pumping stations.

In a letter to residents (May 2010), Barwon Water Alliance, which is doing the work, gave assurances that 'Weekend or after hours work is not currently planned' and that they would 'notify nearby residents as early as possible' of any weekend work'. Nonetheless, excavation and construction work has happened on four of the six Saturdays since the project started (July 17 and 31; August 14 and 28); and residents received notice of just one (31 July) of those four occasions. The organisation has a specialist 'Community and Stakeholder Engagement' group, yet these broken assurances are anything but engaging.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Landowners fight a multi-million dollar drain; councillors seek 'fair and equitable outcome'

Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA) officers were among more than twenty speakers at a City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) Submissions Panel hearing yesterday at City Hall.

CoGG established the Panel to review its proposal to levy a Special Charge on landowners in the Central Road area of Clifton Springs. CoGG wants to levy the Special Charge to recoup money it has committed to a new, $1.5 million drain to serve the area. CoGG has split the cost of the drain with Melbourne-based Pinnacle Holdings, which wishes to build a retirement village in Central Road.* The Panel consisted of Cllr. Jan Farrell (Chair) and Cllrs. Rod Macdonald and John Doull, whose two wards include the area in which the proposed Special Charge would be levied. The Panel was supported by three officers from CoGG's Engineering and Planning departments.

Cllr. Farrell welcomed us to the event and thanked us for attending. She assured us that anyone who wished to speak would be heard respectfully; and she encouraged people to feel relaxed and comfortable in what were, for many people, quite intimidating surroundings. Cllr. Farrell emphasized that the Panel had no power to take decisions about the proposed Special Charge. Its function is to recommend a course of action to the full council. Essentially, the Panel will recommend one of three broad options:
1. Levy the Special Charge in its present form
2. Levy an amended form of the Special Charge
3. Abandon the proposal.

If the Panel recommends either option '1' or '2', it will also recommend how the Special Charge should be administered - including when and how people will have to pay it. Cllr. Farrell described the proposed Special Charge as 'the most complex Special Charge scheme that I've seen in my five years of chairing these Submission Panels'; and Cllr. Doull assured us that 'What we (the Panel) want is an equitable and fair outcome from the process'.

Each person who spoke to the Panel faces bills of many thousands of dollars under the proposed Special Charge, which they described as 'criminal' and 'extortionate'. All speakers said that local landowners shouldn't have to pay the proposed Special Charge until they subdivide their land to sell it at a profit. In its original submission, DCSCA suggested that a possible way forward would be to place covenants on title deeds so that the Special Charge is payable only when the value added by the drain is realised. (While it won't be affected if CoGG levies the proposed Special Charge, DCSCA made a submission concerning the proposal and spoke to the Panel because it is a significant voice in the community.)

In discussions between Panel members and CoGG officers, it became apparent that if the proposed Special Charge is implemented, it would have different effects on different landowners in the area. Some landowners would have to pay the Special Charge only if they subdivide their land. Their properties have been rezoned recently (under planning Amendment C146) from 'Rural Living' to 'Residential 1'. This means that they can - if they wish - subdivide their land and sell it under a standard set of planning rules called a Section 173 Agreement. If they subdivide, they pay the Special Charge; if they don't subdivide, they don't pay the Special Charge. In contrast, the remaining properties in the area to be served by the drain are zoned 'Rural Living'. This means that their owners can't subdivide and sell their properties. Consequently, these landowners face a Special Charge of many thousands of dollars and can't subdivide and sell their land to pay the bills. Clearly, this situation is inequitable and the Panel will have to recommend how to resolve it.

Cllr. Farrell said that the Panel will take two to three months to prepare and submit its recommendations to the council; and that the council will then discuss the recommendations. Everyone who made a submission concerning the proposal will be notified in advance of the council meeting at which the recommendations will be discussed, so that they can attend if they wish.

Anyone can ask a question to the council in the 'Question Time' section of each council meeting. To do so, dowload the form from the relevant page of the CoGG website:
www.geelongcity.vic.gov.au/council/meetings/

* For the background to this issue, see three earlier articles on the blog: Landowners to pay for developer's drains? (April 1 2010); A 'Special Charge' for developer's drains: DCSCA submission (April 12 2010); and Chasing a 'phantom value' (May 2 2010). See also DCSCA meets Cllr. Rod Macdonald (3) (12 August 2010), DCSCA meets Cllr. Rod Macdonald (2) (7 May 2010) and DCSCA meets Cllr. John Doull (2) (21 April 2010).

Friday, August 13, 2010

DCSCA meets Cllr. John Doull (3)


On 12 August, DCSCA Committee members met Councillor John Doull at Geelong's City Hall. This was the third of a series of quarterly meetings that DCSCA has initiated with the two Councillors whose wards coincide with DCSCA's area - the other Councillor is Rod Macdonald, with whom we had our third quarterly meeting on 6 August.

Cllr. Doull had invited Mr. Paul Jamieson (CoGG's Manager of Community Development) to the meeting, because DCSCA had said at our last quarterly meeting with Cllr. Doull that we had received no reply to our letter to Mr. Jamieson in January about council's proposals for Drysdale Town Centre. Mr. Jamieson said that our letter had been replied to, that he didn't have a copy with him, but would send it to us.

On the broader topic of community consultation, we put to Mr. Jamieson the broader argument about council consultations that we have suggested already to Cllrs. Doull and Macdonald and to CoGG CEO Mr. Stephen Griffin. Our argument is that the council's consultation policy lacks any benchmarks of quality and any mechanisms through which to evaluate a particular consultation exercise; we want to improve this situation, rather than just criticise it, so we had drafted an alternative consultation policy for the council; and we see the draft alternative as a basis for discussions with councillors and officers, not as a definitive statement. We emphasised that our experiences of poor consultations were shared by other members of the Affiliation of Bellarine Community Associations (ABCA). Mr. Jamieson said that he had read our draft alternative policy with interest and that Mr. Griffin had invited him to attend his next meeting with the ABCA, at which council consultations would be discussed. Mr. Jamieson said also that he believed that Mr. Griffin had invited Mr. Lindsay Allen (CoGG's Manager of Corporate Strategy & Property Management) to that meeting.

We suggested to Cllr. Doull and to Mr. Jamieson that the council could improve its consultation processes without changing its policy, by explaining the goals, methods and timelines of a particular exercise to stakeholders. They agreed that it would be worth exploring the idea of some 'template' letters to stakeholders through which to do this. Everyone accepted that the council often has to meet statutory requirements in its consultations, but that within those requirements there can still be room for the council to explain the process, and enable and encourage people to participate in it.

We asked Cllr. Doull whether the selection panel for the post of Social Planner that the council is advertising currently will include a community representative. While this isn't normal practice, we suggested that since the focus of the job is as much on local communities as on the council, a perspective other than the council's would be helpful. Cllr. Doull disagreed, saying that it was managers' responsibility to judge people's suitability for a job; Mr. Jamieson agreed.

Next, we discussed the Submission Panel that the council has established to review its proposal to levy a 'Special Charge' on landowners in the Central Road area of Clifton Springs.* The council gave just three working days notice of the date when the Panel would meet, but pressure from DCSCA and others led to it being postponed for a month. We asked Cllr. Doull whether there was a policy concerning the amount of notice to be given of Panel hearings and he said that there was, but he didn't know the details.

We asked Cllr. Doull why DCSCA members and friends in the Springs Street area of Clifton Springs have received no response to their request to him and to Councillors Mitchell and Richards to discuss the Community Plan for Springs Street Reserve that they submitted on June 24.* Cllr. Doull said that councillors needed to be briefed by officers, so that they had a 'position' to put when meeting residents. He said that he had visited the site recently with Mr. Van Driel (CoGG's Manager, City Services) and that the two of them would discuss the site's future with CoGG CEO Mr. Stephen Griffin.We said that it might be more productive if a council 'position' was developed in partnership with local people, rather than presented to them as a finished product. Cllr. Doull disagreed. He also said of the Springs Street open space that, 'There's a commercial value that the council will want to realise.'; and he said that he would give us a definite date for that meeting to discuss the Community Plan that was submitted on June 24.

Finally, we brought Cllr. Doull up to date with recent DCSCA actions. First, DCSCA's suggestion that the council includes Clifton Springs in a trial of an electric car service in Geelong that it is negotiating currently with the USA-based Better Place Electric Vehicles. Cllr. Doull will visit a Better Place trial in Japan later this year. He applauded our initiative but said that it was too early to say whether a trial would happen in Geelong. He referred us to a report - Future-Proofing Geelong - that council had adopted at its meeting on 27 July 2010, because it contained several policies responding to global warming. Second, preparations for the Festival of Glass (February 2011). Third, DCSCA's next Public Meeting (22 September at 7.00 p.m. at SpringDale), which will consider how to generate local jobs and wealth in our community and will also be DCSCA's Annual General Meeting for 2010.

DCSCA's next quarterly meeting with Cllr. Doull will be on Thursday Novmber 11 at 10.00 a.m. at City Hall. This will be the first such meeting with DCSCA's new Committee as elected at the AGM.

Would you like us to discuss any issues with Cllr. Doull at that meeting? If so, please leave a comment below, e-mail DCSCA (dryclift@bigpond.com) or write to DCSCA at P.O. Box 581, Drysdale 3222.

* For the background to this issue, see three earlier articles on the blog: Landowners to pay for developer's drains? (April 1 2010); A 'Special Charge' for developer's drains: DCSCA submission (April 12 2010); and Chasing a 'phantom value' (May 2 2010).
* For the background to this issue, see the earlier article on the blog: 'Community Plan' authors await councillors' response (July 23 2010).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

DCSCA meets Cllr. Rod Macdonald (3)

On 6 August, DCSCA Committee members met Councillor Rod Macdonald in Drysdale. This was the third of a series of quarterly meetings that DCSCA has initiated with the two Councillors whose wards coincide with DCSCA's area - the other is Councillor John Doull, with whom we will have our third quarterly meeting on 12 August.

First, we discussed the Submission Panel that the council has established to review its proposal to levy a 'Special Charge' on landowners in the Central Road area of Clifton Springs.* The council gave just three working days notice of the date when the Panel would meet, but pressure from DCSCA and others led to it being postponed for a month. We asked Cllr. Macdonald whether there was a policy concerning the amount of notice to be given of Panel hearings and he said that there was (10 - 14 days), but that it hadn't been adhered to in this case.

Next, we said that we had still not received a reply from CoGG's Manager of Community Development Mr. Paul Jamieson, to DCSCA's letter to him in January about CoGG proposals for Drysdale Town Centre. Cllr. Macdonald said that he had raised this with Paul Jamieson (as he said he would at our last quarterly meeting), but hasn't had a reply; so he'll contact Paul Jamieson again. On the broader topic of community consultation, we asked Cllr. Macdonald whether the selection panel for the post of Social Planner that the council is advertising currently will include a community representative. While this isn't normal practice, we suggested that since the focus of the job is as much on local communities as on the council, a perspective other than the council's would be helpful. Cllr. Macdonald disagreed, saying that it was mangers' job to judge people's suitability for a job.

We then spoke at length about the proposal to upgrade facilities at Lake Lorne in Drysdale, including building a walking track around it.* We said that the project - which DCSCA initiated in 2007 - has stalled. No money is allocated to it in the council's 2010/2011 budget and it looks like no work will be possible until July 2011 at the earliest; and we had suggestions for ways forward. Our discussion with Cllr. Macdonald on this issue was inconclusive, so DCSCA's new Committee (post-AGM) may return to it with detailed proposals at the next quarterly meeting with him.

Finally, we brought Cllr. Macdonald up to date with recent DCSCA actions. First, DCSCA's suggestion that the council includes Clifton Springs in a trial of an electric car service in Geelong that it is negotiating currently. Cllr. Macdonald isn't involved in the negotiations, but he applauded our initiative and hoped it was successsful. Second, preparations for the Festival of Glass (February 2011). Cllr. Macdonald remains very enthusiastic and supportive and, as he has done before, made some useful duggestions. Third, DCSCA's next Public Meeting (22 September at 7.00 p.m. at SpringDale), which will consider how to generate local jobs and wealth in our community and will also be DCSCA's Annual General Meeting for 2010. Cllr. Macdonald was interested in our focus on the local economy and wants to discuss it further.

DCSCA's next quarterly meeting with Cllr. Macdonald will be on Friday Novmber 5 at 10.00 a.m. (venue TBA). This will be the first such meeting with DCSCA's new Committee as elected at the AGM.

Would you like us to discuss any issues with Cllr. Macdonald at that meeting? If so, please leave a comment below, e-mail DCSCA (dryclift@bigpond.com) or write to DCSCA at P.O. Box 581, Drysdale 3222.

* For the background to this issue, see three earlier articles on the blog: Landowners to pay for developer's drains? (April 1 2010); A 'Special Charge' for developer's drains: DCSCA submission (April 12 2010); and Chasing a 'phantom value' (May 2 2010). We had discussed the 'Special Charge' itself in our last meeting with Cllr. Macdonald, who had agreed with DCSCA's suggestion that a possible way forward would be to place covenants on title deeds so that the Charge is payable only when the added value is realised.

* For the background to this issue, see three earlier articles on the blog, each entitled Lake Lorne Pathway: December 14 2009; January 8 2010; February 7 2010.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bellarine electric cars?

DCSCA has asked the City of Greater Geelong to include Clifton Springs in a proposed trial of an electric car service in Geelong.

Council officers and Better Place Electric Vehicles are in negotiations about a trial of the latter’s electric car service in the City of Greater Geelong. DCSCA is very pleased to see CoGG Councillors and officers taking the lead on this initiative, which we support very strongly.

DCSCA believes that if a trial of electric cars does take place in Geelong, it should include not just the city centre (the obvious choice), but also at least one outlying area; and we believe that the Clifton Springs area is an ideal location for one of the battery switching stations that would be included in the trial.

DCSCA believes that the Geelong electric car trial should include the Clifton Springs area for four reasons:
1. An electric car service would alleviate the local environmental problems associated with heavy commuter traffic. Public transport between the Clifton Springs area and central Geelong is very poor. Consequently, increasing numbers of people are having to drive to work in Geelong or to Melbourne, or they’re having to drive to Geelong to catch a train to Melbourne. The same applies to commuters from elsewhere on the north Bellarine, all of whom have to drive through our area and then on to Geelong or Melbourne. The results are that local roads are approaching capacity in peak hours and that levels of harmful greenhouse gases from the vehicles are increasing steadily. The area is a designated growth zone, so the present problems will only increase, because the population will increase.

2. An electric car service would complement CoGG’s other ‘environmentally friendly’ policies in the area. These policies include CoGG’s current trial of solar-powered street lights in Clifton Springs; its policy of making the area more ‘walkable’, based on a consultant’s study last year; and its requirements for water- and energy-efficient designs in new housing in the area. Also, DCSCA has discussed with CoGG ward Councillors our proposal for a network of simple, public open spaces to complement the area’s more formal recreational infrastructure. An electric car service would be the ideal complement to local open spaces!

3. An electric car service would be a foundation of a local post-carbon economy. DCSCA believes that there is great potential for the Bellarine to become a ‘demonstration project’ or a ‘case study’ in developing a local post-carbon economy; and that as the current hub of the north Bellarine, the Clifton Springs area is the logical starting point of such a development. An electric car service in our area would be an important element of a local post-carbon economy and would demonstrate that CoGG is on top of the problem of peak oil. CoGG is rightly proud of its environmentally-friendly and -sustainable vision and design for Armstrong Creek; including the Clifton Springs area in a trial of an electric car service would show that Armstrong Creek is not a one-off but expresses a developing policy framework and approach.

4. An electric car service would complement the proposed second ferry service between the Bellarine and Melbourne. If a second ferry service is established (a big ‘if), it will generate new commuter traffic on the coast, including some of the vehicles that currently commute to Geelong. Electric cars would be ideal for the relatively short drive between people’s homes and the ferry port.

The proposal to trial an electric car service in the City of Greater Geelong is at an early stage, but that is an opportunity to contribute to any final plan. DCSCA has asked to discuss our proposal with Cllr. John Doull (holder of CoGG's Environment portfolio) and other Councillors who have expressed an interest in the trial.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tourism associations seek DCSCA's help

Bellarine Tourism and Geelong Otway Tourism have asked DCSCA for help in 'refreshing' their websites. in particular, they'd like new and up-to-date content about Drysdale & Clifton Springs and the immediate surrounds.

Ms. Emma Keith - the Destination Bellarine Marketing Officer for these two tourism associations - has asked DCSCA for help and the DCSCA Committee has provided some feedback already, with more to come. Followers and readers of drycliftdays.blogspot may wish to participate, too. Ms. Keith is looking for content in the following broad areas:
  • How should Drysdale & Clifton Springs be portrayed? (E.g. their past, present & future)
  • What are the local attractions?
  • Are there any features (e.g. physical, historical, cultural) that are unique to the area?
  • What are the 'Must Do' activities, places, etc. in the area?
  • Are there any special/unusual features 'off the tourist trail'?

Emma Keith's e-mail address is ek05535@geelongcity.vic.gov.au

The regional website is at www.visitbellarine.org
The local website is at www.visitdrysdale.com.au

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Contacting local MPs


As the federal election draws near, local drycliftdays readers may wish to contact the politicians standing for election. Their details are as follows:

CORANGAMITE Darren Cheeseman MP (Labor), Member for Corangamite
Visit: Shop 3A, 195 – 203 Colac Road, Waurn Ponds
Phone: 5243 2400
Email: Darren.Cheeseman.mp@aph.gov.au

Sarah Henderson, Liberal Candidate for Corangamite
Visit: Suite 3, 165 High Street, Belmont
Phone: 5243 2862
Email: Sarah.Henderson@vic.liberal.org.au

Mike Lawrence, Greens Candidate for Corangamite
Email: Mike.Lawrence@vic.greens.org.au

CORIO Richard Marles MP (Labor), Member for Corio
Visit: 17A Yarra Street, Geelong
Phone: 5221 3033
Email: Richard.Marles.mp@aph.gov.au

Don Gibson, Liberal Candidate for Corio
Phone: 5243 2862
Email: Don.Gibson@vic.liberal.org.au

Gavin Brown, Greens Candidate for Corio
Email: Gavin.Brown@vic.greens.org.au

Friday, July 23, 2010

'Community Plan' authors await councillors' response

A month after DCSCA members and friends in the Save Our Springs Street Open Space (SOSOS) group asked local councillors to discuss The Community Plan for the Springs Street Reserve with them, they still have no answer.

On June 24, the SOSOS group submitted The Community Plan for the Springs Street Reserve to local councillors Rod Macdonald and John Doull, to councillor Andy Richards and to the Mayor, councillor John Mitchell. Their submission has been acknowledged, but SOSOS still don't know whether councillors will discuss the Plan with them.

Cllr. Andy Richards has told DCSCA that the councillors are waiting to be 'briefed' by Council officers on the issues associated with the Springs Street area. DCSCA has responded that it assumes that those Council officers will have been given a copy of The Community Plan for a Springs Street Reserve and, therefore, that they brief councillors in full knowledge of local people’s wishes; and that it hopes that their briefings contain more opportunities than challenges!

The Community Plan for the Springs Street Reserve is a significant step forward in local democracy. It has very broad local support as the result of several months hard work by the SOSOS group to discover local residents' views about how best to use the open space in Springs Street, Clifton Springs.

The creation of the Plan follows a successful campaign by SOSOS to convince the CoGG to abandon its plans to allow a housing estate on the public open space in Springs Street - one of the few stretches of open space left in the area. DCSCA officers helped local residents to challenge the proposal and over 150 local people signed a petition opposing it. A Council meeting on 23 March voted to abandon the proposal. SOSOS memberNeil McGuinness said at the time, 'Councillors Macdonald and Richards came to see us and gave us a fair hearing. They appreciated our concerns and they've taken the right decision. The land has a beautiful bay vista and would be ideal for public passive recreation and a children's playground.'

The Community Plan will benefit visitors as well as locals. It proposes to beautify the area and highlight its historical significance, enhancing the aesthetic, cultural and historical value of the nearby lookout and The Dell.

DCSCA is delighted and proud to support The Community Plan for the Springs Street Reserve. We hope that other residents will follow the example of the SOSOS group and decide among themselves what they would like to happen to their immediate enviroment.

The Festival of Glass is online!

The Festival of Glass has entered the blogosphere! The Festival's blog is up and running and would love a visit from you!

To access the blog, just type its address (festivalofglass.blogspot.com/) in the title bar of your search engine. Once the blog starts to get significant numbers of visitors, it will be possible to access it just by typing 'festivalofglass' into the search bar of your search engine (e.g. Google).

The Festival of Glass is an initiative of the Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA), but the Festival committee is autonomous of the DCSCA Committee. With the establishment of its own blog, the Festival now has its own public profile online. You might consider becoming a 'Follower' of the 'festivalofglass' blog - just click on 'Followers' and follow the instructions.

Congratulations to festivalofglass from drycliftdays and a very warm welcome to the blogosphere!

'Works on our sites? News to us!' Update

Major excavation work by the Barwon Water Alliance continues apace at the two pumping stations in Jetty Road, Drysdale and in Bayshore Avenue, Clifton Springs. (See 'Works on our sites? News to us!' 16 July on this blog)

The Barwon Water Alliance's Stakeholder Engagement Group has told DCSCA that in May 2010, the Alliance sent a notice to residents informing them that 'upgrades' would take place at the two pumping stations between June 2010 and March 2011. However, some residents didn't receive a copy of this notice; and the Alliance appears to have no record of who they contacted and who they didn't.

The notice states that, 'During construction, we will endeavour to minimise the impact of construction noise and heavy vehicle movement.' However, at the Jetty Road site, 'construction noise and heavy vehicle movement' is starting as early as 7.15 a.m., as nearby residents and commuters will attest.

The notice also states that, 'Weekend or after hours work is not currently planned. However, if there is a requirement for construction at these times, we will notify nearby residents as early as possible.' Imagine nearby residents' surprise when, with no notification, 'construction noise and heavy vehicle movement' started just before 8.00 a.m. on Saturday 17 July - the first Saturday of serious work on the site. Those same nearby residents have subsequently been told that construction work will also happen on Saturday July 31. Two weekends out of the first three on a site where, 'Weekend or after hours work is not currently planned.'

DCSCA has discussed these events with members of the Stakeholder Engagement Group and with site/project managers and the general view has been that stakeholders in the local community could have been 'engaged' more successfully. DCSCA has said that it is keen to see that process of engagement succeed and is ready to help however it can ... but probably not on Saturdays!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Local voices down the drain? Update

Pressure from local people has led the City of Greater Geelong to postpone a planned internal review of its proposal to levy landowners in Central Road, Clifton Springs, a 'Special Charge' of between $3,000 and $256,888 each.

The 'Special Charge' is meant to raise part of the estimated $1,492,827 cost of a new main drain for a retirement village in Central Road. When the council announced the proposed 'Special Charge' in February, more than thirty local landowners objected, as did the Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association. On March 31, the objectors held a public meeting that featured on Channel 9's A Current Affair.

On Thursday 15 July, some of the objectors received a letter (postmarked 13 July) from the council inviting them to appear before an internal Submissions Panel established to review objections to the proposal. The letter said that the Panel would be chaired by Councillor Jan Farrell, who holds the council's 'Democracy and Governance' portfolio; and that it would meet on Tuesday 20 July, i.e. just three working days away. By Friday July 16, other objectors hadn't even received such a letter.

The Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association (and others) argued strongly to Cllr. Farrell that three working days was insufficient notice. On Monday 19 July, Cllr. Farrell told the association that she had postponed the Submissions Panel until 16 August.

Community Association Secretary Patrick Hughes said, 'This is a small but significant victory for local democracy. We applaud Councillor Farrell's decision to postpone the Panel until August 16 and we have thanked her for her sensitivity on this issue. People have work and family commitments and can't just set them aside at three working days notice. Councillor Farrell's decision gives local landowners a reasonable time in which to prepare their arguments and the association is helping them to do so. The outcome will be a more thorough and rigorous examination of the issues than would have been possible in the council's original timetable.'

Friday, July 16, 2010

'Works on our sites? News to us!'

For some days now, contractors and machinery have been busy at Barwon Water's two pumping stations in Jetty Road and Bayshore Avenue, Clifton Springs. Local residents will have noticed this, as will visitors travelling past the sites. Barwon Water, however, seems unaware of it!

When contacted this morning, Barwon Water's Customer Liaison office knew nothing about the work and referred the call to the Maintenance division. They knew nothing about it either and referred the call back to Customer Liaison, who said that they would try to find someone who did know about it. Barwon Water prides itself on its 'open and honest communication with each other, our customers and our community' and it seeks to ' achieve a reputation for excellent customer focused services and stakeholder relationships' (Barwon Water web site). Seven hours later, nothing more has been heard from them.

The backdrop to this extraordinary episode is the Barwon Water Alliance, through which Barwon Water is pursuing its statutory responsibilities (under the Water Act) in collaboration with two private companies - GHD and John Holland*. Over the next five years, the Alliance will deliver more than 100 projects worth $355 million.

One of those projects will upgrade Barwon Water's two pumping stations in Jetty Road and Bayshore Avenue. New 'holding tanks' - in fact, a series of closed-ended pipes - will be installed five metres below ground at each pumping station. In the event of a storm, these 'tanks' will store excess stormwater run-off temporarily, allowing it to be pumped away once the storm subsides. The work is due for completion in March 2011.

The upgrades anticipate the increased stormwater run-off from Stage One of the Jetty Road housing estate and from the continuing 'in-fill' house-building to the east of Jetty Road. Bitumen and concrete in these developments stop rainwater soaking into the ground, creating increased run-off. Barwon Water has said that their current infrastructure in Drysdale & Clifton Springs is reaching capacity and that the urbanisation of Jetty Road will 'theoretically exceed capacity', although 'the town can be serviced with water without the need for major capital works.' (Structure Plan for Drysdale & Clifton Springs. City of Greater Geelong. 2009 [p. 25]).

The Clifton Springs project is part of Barwon Water's 'Bellarine Peninsula Sewage Management Strategy', which also includes projects in other towns on the Bellarine, such as Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove.

To discover whether Barwon Water's Customer Liaison office is aware yet of the work on its sites, call them on (03) 5226 2376 during business hours.

* GHD (named after original partners Gutteridge, Haskins & Davey) provides professional and technical services in utilities, including water, energy and transportation. It will contribute expertise in design, environmental and stakeholder management to the Alliance. John Holland provides contracting and engineering services and will contribute construction and commercial management expertise to the Alliance.

Monday, June 28, 2010

It's definite - February 20 2011!


The inaugural Festival of Glass in Drysdale now has a confirmed date: Sunday 20 February 2011, 10.00 - 5.00 at the Potato Shed in Drysdale. There will be a pre-Festival 'starter' event on Saturday 19 February, also at the Potato Shed.

Work on the Festival continues apace and the Festival Committee is starting to receive inquiries from people and organizations interested in participating. These have included a local winery, a glass artisan currently overseas who's coming home next year ... and a glass factory in China that hopes we can have a nice relationship!

Arranging the venue and inviting exhibitors are two major jobs for the organisers, but so is ensuring that as many people as possible know about the Festival well in advance. The Committee now has a comprehensive and sophisticated database of potential outlets for Festival news, marketing and advertising and is considering launching a dedicated website or blog. Watch this space for more.

Having attracted people to the venue, you need to keep them happy and safe to enjoy themselves, so the Committee is organizing permits, security, car parking, insurance, food and drink - oh, and some local music, too!

Finally, the Committee has started to invite commercial sponsorship and is discussing with various local clubs and societies how they can be involved. It's not quite 'bigger than Ben Hur' (well, not yet!), but the Committee is very keen to have as many people involved as possible. Could that include you? If you'd like to be involved in this unique community event, do please contact the Festival Committee c/o DCSCA at P. O. Box 581, Drysdale 3222; or dryclift@bigpond.com

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bellarine community associations meet City of Greater Geelong CEO


On June 18, representatives from community associations on the Bellarine Peninsula met Stephen Griffin, Chief Executive Officer of the City of Greater Geelong for the first time to discuss Bellarine-wide issues.

The meeting lasted an hour and covered four items.
1. Consultation policy
Stephen Griffin heard of the widespread feeling within communities that the City of Greater Geelong's public consultations appear to have no effect on subsequent policies. He agreed to a further meeting to hear detailed examples and to discuss a new consultation policy for the council that has been presented by ABCA.

2. Infrastructure on the Bellarine
ABCA has produced a comprehensive list of items needing attention and it was suggested that a designated CoGG 'officer for the Bellarine' could assist CoGG to respond to these sorts of Bellarine-wide isues. Stephen Griffin advised ABCA to submit its list and proposals to CoGG's draft Land Use Strategy when it is released for public consultation.

3. City of Greater Geelong's strategic priorities for the Bellarine
Stephen Griffin heard that people on the Bellarine Peninsula believe that CoGG sees the Bellarine as the 'poor cousin' to developing areas such as Armstrong Creek. Stephen Griffin said that CoGG would involve ABCA - as the peak community body on the Bellarine - in the mid-term review in 2011 of CoGG's Bellarine Strategic Plan.

4. Climate change
It was reported that Bellarine Bayside is about to undertake a study on climate change, yet the area it controls is only a small proportion of our total communities. ABCA called for CoGG, Surf Coast Shire and other relevant agencies to be involved in any such study.

The meeting was arranged by the Affiliation of Bellarine Community Associations (ABCA), of which Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA) is a member. Representatives of the Barwon Heads Association, DCSCA, Ocean Grove Community Association and Indented Head Community Association attended the meeting and other associations that were unable to be represented sent their apologies.

The meeting was positive and business-like. It bodes well for future relations between ABCA and CoGG.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Public Meeting June 2 2010 (2)

Recreation and Leisure in Our Community: what could make life better in Drysdale & Clifton Springs?'

This was the topic of DCSCA's latest Public Meeting, on Wednesday June 2 at 7.00 p.m. at SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre, High Street, Drysdale. The meeting heard from Bill Williams (Clifton Springs Community Men's Shed), Rob Evans (Youth Foundations Victoria) and from Aidan Keranen, of the youth project MISSION (Many Individuals Supporting Socially Important Options on the North Bellarine).

Their presentations revealed that these very different groups had some shared concerns. Two major common issues were the need for somewhere to 'hang out' and the ability to get there and return home. They sparked a lively discussion about the need for good public transport to support community facilities. The Men's Shed is examining the idea of a 'community bus' at SpringDale, bought by the City of Greater Geelong and/or the Lions and Rotary and supported by voluntary gold coin donations by passengers. Rob Evans and Aidan Keranen welcomed the idea, which is so obviously a good one that it's only surprising that there isn't such a service already. We'll be hearing more about this one!

The Clifton Springs Community Men's Shed heard recently that it has been granted $35,000 by the state government to develop its site and its services. This is terrific news and DCSCA is proud to have formally supported the application.

Unfortunately, Andrew McKinnon, Project Manager of Barwon River Parklands, was unable to be with us. DCSCA got in touch with Andrew via Parks Victoria and we would like to build stronger links with these organisations, because we are developing a policy on public open spaces in our region. As the work on this proceeds, there will be articles on this blog.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Public Meeting June 2 2010 (1)


'Recreation and Leisure in Our Community: what could make life better in Drysdale & Clifton Springs?'

This is the topic of DCSCA's next Public Meeting, on Wednesday June 2 at 7.00 p.m. at SpringDale Neighbourhood Centre, High Street, Drysdale; and this posting is a warm invitation to you to attend.

Is balancing leisure and life becoming a bit of a stretch?
We need to take time out from our busy lives and we know that staying active helps to keep us healthy. However, it's becoming harder to find open spaces for recreation, because urbanisation is replacing them. And while new housing developments often include parkland, this is often taken up with exercise equipment and barbecues. Adults and children certainly need more-or-less formal recreational facilities, such as sports fields, recreation/leisure centres and playgrounds; but we also need simple, open space in which to just ‘be’, rather than do anything active and specific. There is growing evidence that people’s well-being (especially children’s) is suffering because so much of the natural world is being ‘developed’ as urban spaces – including formal recreational facilities. Indeed, researchers have identified a condition known as ‘Nature Deficit Syndrome’ associated with lack of access to natural (non-urban) environments.

At the same time, recreation and leisure is now a major industry and it's becoming harder to find forms of recreation and leisure that don't involve spending money. If you have money to spare, this isn't a problem. But the less money you have, the harder it can be to have good times.

Our speakers
The meeting will feature some very different perspectives on recreation and leisure. We'll hear from Bill Williams and David Cornwell from the Clifton Springs Men's Shed; from Rob Evans and members of Youth Foundations Victoria; and we hope to have a speaker from Parks Victoria - we're just waiting for them to confirm.

The meeting will follow our usual format - three speakers, each given 10 minutes or so, then an open discussion, with a 'snap poll' on white boards for people to fill-in as they leave. DCSCA's public meetings this year have been lively, interesting events: about 100 people came to our first meeting (about shopping) and about 50 people to our last meeting (about transport). For each one, we've invited speakers who will introduce local people to perspectives on the topic that they may not have encountered before; and we hope that our meeting on June 2 will achieve the same success.