Decision on Princes Bridge made under a cloak of secrecy

Melbourne City Council Lord Mayor and Councillors failed to consult on the decision to close down a lane on princes Bridge.

Councillors Stephen Mayne, Jackie Watts and Richard Foster and the Greens claim to be advocates for open transparent government yet on this and many other issues issue they have failed to ensure decisions of council were made in open session.

Questions have been raised to the legality of the decision making process as decisions of Council are supposed to be made in open Council. It appears that controversial decisions are being made under delegation following consideration at closed session Councillor Forms, locking out members of the public, where councillors give a nod and a wink and the decision is made.
 
No opportunity for public comment on thee proposal which will see access to the city restricted.  Residents South of the Yarra who are effected the most were not consulted.

If the issue appears in the Council budget papers then it is assumed that approval has been given.

Act of bad faith – Council credibility with the community at an all time low.

The Council’s budget papers indicated that the decision to build the bike lane was not possible before June 30 end of financial year.

Having deceived the public the Council held a serious of closed session and a decision has been made to announce the lane closure under the disguise of a “trial” . 

Just last week the City Council engineers, Haig Poulson and Geoff Robertson had met with representatives of the Motorcyclist and Scooter riders association to discuss the road safety issues that had not been addressed by the City Council. Motorcyclists and Scooter riders had been left out of the Council Transport Strategy plan.,  The Council gave an undertaking that it would develop a traffic strategy plan similar to the Council’s Bike plane to look at issues of concern related to motorcycle scooter riders. In addition Haig Poulson undertook to before implementing any traffic engineering modification.  In less than two weeks the Council reneged on its undertaking and pushed ahead with the Princes Bridge proposal, a proposal that will impact on road users, motorcycle and scooter riders in particular.  Motorcycles safety is also at risk and they want equal access to many of the City’s bike lanes that are underutilized and in many cases empty.

Doyle Trial by deception. Pushes ahead on Princes Bridge lane closure

Melbourne City Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, thumbed his nose at the community and has decided to push ahead with plans to remove traffic lanes on Princess Bridge to make way for bicycles.

Robert Doyle claims the proposal is a trail by city insiders know this is not the case

The City Council has been criticised by the RACV, business and residents alike with Residents’ South of the Yarra complaining there were not been consulted .  South of the Yarra will be blocked-out from accessing the city as Princes Bridge is the MAIN access point to the City.


The number of cyclists using Princess Bridge is minimal and even less during during off-peak and the non summer periods.

Melbourne’s bike paths have come under considerable community opposition.  It’s bike madness.  The City of Melbourne is Engineering congestion.
 
The push for more bike paths in the City comes from City Engineers Geoff Robinson and Haig Poulson.

Last month the City Council had to defer it’s Road Safety Plan following complaints by Melbourne’s Motorcycle and Scooter riders that they were not consulted in the development of the Traffic management plan.

And it was not just Motorcyclist they were not consulted the City Engineer department also failed to consult Melbourne’s Emergency services, Ambulance or Fire Brigade.  Questions are being asked what impact the lane closure will have on Ambulances accessing the City from the Alfred Hospital?

The proposed lane reduction on Princes has been opposed by the RACV, Motorcycle/Scooter riders, businesses and City residents who have called on the State Government to step in and assume management of the City’s road infrastructure policy development and put a halt on the sheer madness that has engulf our city leaders.
 
The City Council is flushed with cash and the engineering department is keen to spend up big and issue contracts for expenditure that is not required.  

The Queensberry Street and LaTrobe Street bike paths are not working and the intersection of Latrobe Street and Queen Street is an accident waiting to happen.

You only have to travel down Queensberry Street and LaTrobe Street where the Council has spent over 2.6 Million Dollars constructing bike paths that service few bikes.  There is hardly a bike in sight on Queensberry Street yet the council has dedicated a full lane of traffic to bicycles generating congestion in the Street and beyond.

The City of Melbourne has proposed spending additional $300,000 in next years budget on a bike path in Neil Street Carlton. 

We contacted a number of Councillors today and asked them if they had been down Neil Street? They said they had not.  Had they done so they would see that there is no Bicycle traffic or significant car movements in Neil Street that warrants the construction of a $300,000 bike path.  Most bikes use Canning Street not Neil Street.

Robert Doyle is pandering to the wishes of a few at the expense of the majority and in the process demonstrating why he would not have been a good State leader.   

The Princes Bridge “Trial” and lane reduction is another chink in the Armour and is having a negative impact on City businesses .  City Commuters and business will pay the cost for the Council’s engineered congestion,

Coroner launches investigation on Wall collape

The Victorian Coroner’s Court today launched its inquiry into the circumstances surround the March 28 Swantson Street Grocon Wall collapse.  Coroners’ Court Judge Ian Gray, assisted by the Victorian Police, acknowledged the public interests in the inquiry and warned of procedural delay arsing from the potential for persecutions that may arise from independent inquiries undertaken by WorkSafe and the Building Commission. 

It may take up to two years or more to be concluded depending on the extent of any prosecutions that may be launched.

The Victorian Police are in the process of preparing a report for the Coroner focusing on the history of the site, the design and construction of the collapsed wall and the hoarding that was attached to the wall.  The Police report will also cover the regulatory requirements governing the building site and will be supported by expert evidence.

In attendance were representatives of the Building Commission, WorkSafe, Grocon, the City of Melbourne and the families of the victims of the accident.  The CFMEU has also sought leave to be represented in the hearing as their members and staff were employed on the construction site and also in attendance immeadiatly after the wall collapase.

The French Embassy also sent an observer but they will have no formal standing in the proceedings

Judge Ian Gray reserved his decision, subject to the tabling of the report from Victoria Police, on whether or not the CFMEU will be granted leave to appear

No date was set for the tabling of the Police report but the court is expected to convene again one month following the Police evidential report copies of which will be provided to all parties.

Given the close  association between the developer GroCon and the various government authorities representation by the CFMEU would assist in maintaining public confidence in Coronal review which is independent from Government

Police investigating why wall debris was removed from collapse site

Early days as Melbourne contemplates new planning regime come july 1

Melbourne City Council has been caught out and is not sure as to the impact Victoria’s new planning scheme zones, announced on May 8, will have on Melbourne
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On Tuesday May the 14th “Future Melbourne Committee” Anthony van der Craats, resident, asked the Committee a question in relation to the Minister for Planning’s recently announced changes to the Victorian Planning Scheme, which resulted in the abolition of Business 1 Zones, when will the City of Melbourne be undertaking a review of the [new] schemes?

In response to the question the Director City Planning and Infrastructure, Geoff Lawler advised that “it is very early days as the rezoning has just been announced. He is currently beginning to understand the process and will bring the information to Councillors once it is fully known”

In a further response to a [follow-up] question [as to when a report will be presented to an open public session of Council] , the Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle advised that as per the previous discussion regarding the zoning changes at the beginning of the meeting the matter will be brought before Council, but cannot guarantee it will be at the June Council meeting. Given the 1 July 2013  deadline the Council will be pressing to make sure this is as expeditious as possible 

Council better get it’s act together no later than June if confidence in planning administration is to be maintained.

Under the new scheme Business 1 zones such as the Domain Rod precinct will become Commercial 1 zone with residents believing the zone should be a Mixed Use zone not Commercial 1.

The new planning regime starts July 1.  

Gambling with our future Planning

Gambling Awareness Week

In 1995, on 3LO Jon Faine’s program, I campaigned for Gaming venues to be subject to a planning permit.   Amusement Parlours required a planning permit but not gaming venues.

The Gaming industry was quick to reject and deflect the need for Gaming venues to require a planning permit.  At the time all you needed was a Fully Licensed venue and the approval of either the TAB or Tattersalls. 

11 years later in 2006 the Bracks/Brumby Government introduced a planning permit for gaming venues.  Whilst planning permits for gaming venues is now in place the system is still in need to review and more regulations and controls.  In 1995 you could turn a licensed restaurant into a gaming venue.  The same applies today.  Under the new planning system introduced by the Napthine Liberal Government Gaming venues an be established in the new “Commercial 1” zones an application for a change of use is all that is required.

Linking Melbourne: Pipe Dream or Tunnel to the future

The often talked about, Melbourne Metro underground extension is one of those top end pipe dream infrastructure projects that should help transport Melbourne into the future.

The project is estimated to costs anywhere between 9 to 12 billion dollars and will link South Yarra to Kensington via the Domain. CDB and Parkville

With big ticket items comes big planning and infrastructure expenditure.

The Federal Labor Government has indicated support for the project which is yet to receive commitment for State government funding beyond planning and initial design

The project is it proceeds will involve an estimated one year disruption to Swanston Street trashing the $25.6 Million that the City of Melbourne has spent over the last year  not to mention the money spent on upgrading the Domain interchange.

 With the project comes opportunity for better services and integrated planning.  The owners of the Swanston Street CUB site should be planing to allow for integration of the proposed North Metro station providing direct access into their development  with the possibility of additional below ground shops.  the more we can integrate public infrastructure into retail shopping the better off both will be.  Similar opportunities exist in developing the Flinders Street station and its integration with Federation Square

Missing from the bigger picture is how the long talked about Eastern Freeway corridor rail line will interface into the new network if at all.  And which route the long waited Airport rail link will take.  This tunnel could be a busy rail hub after all.  We just hope they have got the planning it right this time unlike the lack of long term planning when they built the Melbourne underground rail loop .

The other issue effecting our rail network is the removal of level crossings. Crossings that limit the number and frequency of trains in Melbourne.  The impact that level crossing have to the overall performance and functioning of Melbourne transport system can not be overstated.  These projects also should be on the drawing board and private investment funding sought. There is an opportunity here to integrated commercial shopping centres into new underground passage and freeing up of land utilization.

Visionaries, like Darebin’s Mayor Tim Lawrence, are keen for State Government to invest in outer Melbourne’s future by supporting redevelopment along the Bell Street corridors.  If this was attended to then a large tracks of road and rail development and commercial infrastructure could  be freed up to help stem the pressure on Melbourne’s ever expanding  urban sprawl and road network congestion.   Similar opportunities exist on the Dandenong-Frankston lines. Removing level crossings on major roads should be given equal if not higher priority.  Local Councils should be allowed to independently pursue redevelopment finance proposals to remove level crossings capitalizing on the land, rail and commercial development integration to the benefit of their local communities.
  

Doyle pushes for Princes Bridge lane closure

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and the City of Melbourne plans to push ahead with the proposal to reduce traffic lanes in Princess Bridge to allow for the creation of a bike lane amidst opposition from  road users and the local community.

A reported 27,000 motorists use Princes Bridge to access the city a day .  The proposal is to reduced the number of car lanes from two in each direction to just a single lane to create a dedicated bike lane catering for less than 2000 bicyclists.

The Council’s claim to have consulted with stakeholders is false. The Council had consulted with bicycle riders, Vicroads and the RACV but has failed to consult with Motorcyclists, Scooter riders or local residents in South Bank or South Yarra.

Most traffic crossing Princes Bridge heading into the city turn right into Flinders Street and head east and also travel in the reverse direction when existing the city.

The proposed lane closure is expected to increase congestion in the city. The Flinders’ Street/Princess Bridge route is the only route that provides vehicle access to the South Yarra precinct.   Morall’s Bridge to the East which has been closed to vehicular traffic, is for pedestrians and bicyclist only.  The only other nearest means of crossing the Yarra into the City is along Alexander Parade/Swan Street Bride and the Batman Ave. Tollway that travels next to the Tennis Centre and into Exhibition Street.

Alexander Parade/Swan Street Bridge option is already congested with traffic backing up at Swan Street bridge as far back as Princess bridge and the Arts Centre  in peak hour traffic with little easing during the day.   This rout can not absorb any overflow created by Lane closure on Princes Bridge

The other option is for Motorists to travel down South Bank Boulevard around the Casino tuning left at Power Street and across into William Street or turn right and then along Queens Street.  Both of these options will increase travel time for motorists by 20 minutes and further add to city congestion.

The Council could look at constructing an new bridge linking Linlithgow Avenue to Batman Avenue but that would costs Millions of dollars. 

Transport Minister Terry Mulder says VicRoads has jurisdiction over the project.

“VicRoads would have to be consulted for any work that was to be undertaken on that bridge and any impact it would have on the broader road network,” Mr Mulder said.

Last month on 3AW Neil Mitchel Denis Napthine, Victoria’s  Premier, claimed that VicRoads had not signed off on the project.

Opposition spokesperson on Road, Luke Donnellan has also expressed concern over the proposed lane closure.  “The City of Melbourne must put in place alternative routes and measures before it can close down traffic on the bridge. All other options must be considered first.

Melbourne City Councillor Richard Foster echoing the views express by Luke Donnellan has called on the City of Melbourne to implement better line marking and bike path delineation before reducing traffic access to the City.

The City of Melbourne must rethink its proposed lane closure and consult more widely or run teh risk of a community backlash,.  South Yarra residents, who were not consulted, have expressed opposition to the proposal .  Residents are calling on Local State member and former deputy Lord Mayor,  Clem Newton-Brown to put a halt to the project and engaged in more consultation and consider alternative options.

Robert Doyle and Council vote on proposed budget increase in fees and rates

Robert Doyle in summing up the presentation of the City of Melbourne 2013-14 budget had a dig at Collins Street Traders by saying…

“Council is actually here [Council Meeting held on Thursday May 9] on both items [4 yr Plan and Council Budget] giving approval for public notice rather than giving approval or substantive debate of content because this is a work in progress we now send this process out for further comment from the public”

“We are starting to get comment already… I remind Councillors that those very people who criticise elements of the budget, like a small rise in parking fees of a dollar fifty, are the very people who at other times of the year are exhorting us to spend more on Christmas decorations, more on cleaning the City and beatifying streets, such as in Collins Street and that is one of the things for me [Robert Doyle] difficult to understand.”

“The amount we are raising, and I will ask the public to think about that, through the increases in parking and increases in rates equates to about 14 Million dollars. I often say to people in the consultation period what would you cut out.”
..
“That adds up to our entire Arts and Cultural budget. We could do none of that, if you like, but I do not think that will be the right answer. “
.. 
It is a work in progress but I like to think pretty much of our work is done. I can not see us after consultation going back to first principles”


Councillor Stephen Mayne (In closing)

“It is open to councillors and everyone else to suggest changes or updates to the budget, for instance the 149 births at docklands where we mention zero rent … where many were packaged up with apartments by VicUrban”… “from 2025 we will be able to extract rent for those births”.. :”It is all about providing information in its correct context.”
..
“It is up to everyone to make submissions and suggestions.”

 
SUBMISSIONS CLOSE JUNE 7

The Melbourne City Council audio recording of the meeting has been edited and a section deleted removing comments made by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle just prior to the taking of the vote and the closing of the meeting. (Listen from the end of Stephen Mayne’s Speech 1 min before recording end)

Have your say

Submissions are welcome on the draft Annual Plan and Budget 2013-14. 

The detail of what we will do and how we will fund our activities is agreed each year in the Annual Plan and Budget.

The draft Annual Plan and Budget 2013-14 is now out for statutory consultation.

Council’s Future Melbourne Committee will consider any written submission received on or before Friday 7 June 2013, at a meeting to be held on Tuesday 18 June 2013 at 5.30pm in the Council Meeting Room, level two, Melbourne Town Hall, Swanston Street, Melbourne.

If a person wishes to be heard in support of their submission they must include the request to be heard in the submission and this will entitle them to appear in person or by a person acting on their behalf before the meeting of the Committee.

The postal address for written submissions is:

Manager Governance Services
City of Melbourne
GPO Box 1603
Melbourne VIC 3001

Robert Doyle and Council vote on proposed budget increase in fees and rates

Robert Doyle in summing up the presentation of the City of Melbourne 2013-14 budget had a dig at Collins Street Traders by saying…

“Council is actually here [Council Meeting held on Thursday May 9] on both items [4 yr Plan and Council Budget] giving approval for public notice rather than giving approval or substantive debate of content because this is a work in progress we now send this process out for further comment form the public”

“We are starting to get comment already… I remind Councillors that those very people who criticise elements of the budget, like a small rise in parking fees of a dollar fifty, are the very people who at other times of the year are exhorting us to spend more on Christmas decorations, more on cleaning the City and beatifying streets, such as in Collins Street and that is one of the things for me [Robert Doyle] difficult to understand.”

“The amount we are raising, and I will ask the public to think about that, though the increases in parking and increases in rates equates to about 14 Million dollars. I often say to people in consultation period what would you cut out.”
..
“that adds up to our entire Arts and Cultural budget. We could do none of that if you like but I do not think that will be the right answer. “
.. 
It is a work in progress but I like to think pretty much of our work is done. I can not see us after consultation going back to first principles”


Councillor Stephen Mayne (In closing)

“It is open to councillors and everyone else to suggest changes or updates to the budget, for instance the 149 births at docklands where we mention zero rent … where many were packaged up with apartments by VicUrban”… “from 2025 we will be able to extract rent fro those births”.. :It is all about providing information in its correct context.”
..
“It is up to everyone to make submissions and suggestions.”

 
SUBMISSIONS CLOSE JUNE 7

The Melbourne City Council audio recording of the meeting has been edited and a section of deleted removing comments made by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle just prior to the taking of the vote and the closing of the meeting. (Listen from the end of Stephen Mayne’s Speech 1 min before recording end)

Have your say

Submissions are welcome on the draft Annual Plan and Budget 2013-14. 

The detail of what we will do and how we will fund our activities is agreed each year in the Annual Plan and Budget.

The draft Annual Plan and Budget 2013-14 is now out for statutory consultation.

Council’s Future Melbourne Committee will consider any written submission received on or before Friday 7 June 2013, at a meeting to be held on Tuesday 18 June 2013 at 5.30pm in the Council Meeting Room, level two, Melbourne Town Hall, Swanston Street, Melbourne.

If a person wishes to be heard in support of their submission they must include the request to be heard in the submission and this will entitle them to appear in person or by a person acting on their behalf before the meeting of the Committee.

The postal address for written submissions is:

Manager Governance Services
City of Melbourne
GPO Box 1603
Melbourne VIC 3001