Melbourne’s Bicycle Strategy: Questions left unanswered.

Following on from the City of Melbourne attempt to gag public debate and its refusal to hold an open public review of it’s Bicycle Strategy Plan:
Albert St, Swanston St (North) are not working. Latrobe Street, costing 2.6 Million Dollars, is a disaster zone. 
 Why won’t the City of Melbourne hold a review of its Bike Path design, construction and implementation?  What has it got to hide?
Princes Bridge Bike Lane Trial.
Will the City of Melbourne be holding an open public review at the end of the Princes Bridge Bike Lane trial or will the decision, yet again, be made behind closed doors under delegation and the public denied input?
St Kilda Road Bike Lane
Why was the alternative open “Chevron” line delineation bike path design, similar to that installed in Claredon Street East Melbourne, not considered or rejected by the City of Melbourne for the proposed 350m St Kida Road Bike lane?
Consultation process 
Will  the City of Melbourne publish in full all submissions and correspondence in relation to the City of Melbourne’s Bike strategy plan in particular correspondence from VicRoads, the RACV, Ambulance Victoria, Melbourne Metropolitan Fire brigade, The Victorian State Government Disability Advocate and the Bus Proprietors’ Association,  all of whom the City of Melbourne claim were consulted in the development of its Bicycle Strategy Plan, as is normally the case in State Parliament/Government reviews/Submissions?


Melbourne’s Bicycle Network Wreck: Solution proposals

Notes and suggestion on possible solutions to Melbourne’s Bicycle Network

Decision making process:

The oversight of the Bicycle plan is the responsibility of Greens Councillor Cathy Oake who is the City Council’s chair of the Transport portfolio. 

The final sign-off and decision to proceed with the St Kilda bicycle plan and the Latrobe Street development were not decided by Council but made under delegation of the Council officers who claim that authority and agreement was made during the Council budget papers and the adoption of the Council’s transport strategy plan.

Final approval of the closure of the Princes Bridge lane and so called trail was not made in an open Council session but by delegation.

The adoption of a budget or the Council strategy plan should not be considered as having provided Council’s consent.

As Councillor Stephen Mayne stated last Tuesday was the first time the newly elected Council had to debate the issue of Bicycle lanes as distinct from the general issue of strategy plans and the like.  And Tuesday’s meeting was discussing the idea of deferring implementation and and having the final decision brought before council for approval.  The  proposal for a review was rejected by the Council, even though it was evident that there was considerable public concern and opposition to the decision made under delegation.

Councillors discussed these issues in closed session but they were not debated in open session where the public are provide the opportunity to make a final submission and presentation in relation to any discussion to be made.

Why did the matter not come before Council for final approval?   Planning permits application readily are discussed in open public committee before they are approved why not the bicycle plan?

Future final approval of future major projects and works MUST be decided by Council in open public session and not under delegation.

Albert Street

The existing bicycle lane should be removed and a Clardeon street design solution implemented.

Consideration should be given to establishing a shared bicycles lane with buses, taxis and motorcycles.

Latrobe Street

This is a disaster zone and in need of urgent comprehensive review. A review that should have taken place before proceeding with the Princes Bridge and St Kilda Road bike lanes

Latrobe Street should never have been chosen to install a segregated bicycle lane.  2.6 Million dollars misspent.

Council should  consider and develop as alternative routes utilizing smaller streets such as Abbeckett and Franklin Street and eventually consideration will have to be made to remove the existing lane separation barriers.

On Street parking should be removed in the meantime to allow for improved traffic movements and protect commuters who are forced to park in the middle of the street with minimal protection of a safe environment

Princes Bridge

Princes Bridge should be closed to all unnecessary vehicular traffic  BUT this should only be done with the provision of a suitable alternative river crossing East of Princes Bridge.

This would allow for installation of a bicycle lane on both sides of the bridge and the development of a public transport interchange/pedestrian precinct.

St Kilda Road

The bike lane should be widened and a Claredon Street chevron design bike lane installed the full length of St Kilda Road.  This would require the consent of City of Port Phillip and Vicroads,.  A chevron delineated lane would provide a safe environment for motorist parking, disabled and emergency vehicle access and cost much less then the expense of constructing a Copenhagen close lane barrier.  More path for our buck

Swanston Street

A 10Km speed limit should be implemented along Swanston Street between Princes Bridge and Victoria Street

The Bicycle lane in Swanston Street North of Victoria Street should be replaced with by Claredon Street chevron line delineation lane as recommended for St Kilda Road and Albert Street

Melbourne’s Bicycle Network Wreck: A tangled web of bad decisions, designs and implementation

Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are doom to repeat them
The City of Melbourne’s refusal to subject Melbourne Bicycle Lanes to review has only compounded problems and undermine public confidence.
The Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and others who claim that the various segments of Melbourne’s bike strategy are separate and as such not related does not wash.
“Latrobe Street does not relate to Swanston Street which is separate from Princes Bridge and that St Kilda Road is also a separate issue to both”
Robert Doyle said that Latrobe Street could not be part of a review because it was in place.  Stephen Mayne said he would support a review if it included Latrobe Street.  
The logic that the proposed review did not include Latrobe Street or that Princes Bridge is not related to the St Kilda Road bike path astounds logic.  Of course they are related, they form part of a network of bike paths in the same way that various Streets , Lanes and Roads, trains trams etc form part of the City road/transport network. They are explicitly related and all directly impact and effect each other. They can not be separated and should have been included in a ongoing review of Council’s transport strategy plan.
There has failed to undertake progressive strategic pubic review of the roll out of its ill-considered Transport plan. The consultation process undertaken was flawed in its implementation. Like the magician or trickster that asks a serious of questions and then shows you the answer written down on a hidden piece of paper.
We already know that the process and management of the consultation was flawed.  Most stakeholders we contacted have said they did not think they were consulted, instead they were just informed and told what was going to happen and their main concerns were ignored. 
A major part of any effective consultation and design project is the review process. The ability to stop and review a project at various stages of the project, each aspect and segment.  The City of Melbourne has failed on all accounts and most can be attributed to the administration of the process , the role of the responsible chairperson and lack of review.
It all depends, of course, on what your goal is. If you have a set idea and you goal is to bring that idea into existence no matter what the cost then all kinds of mistakes will inevitably be made.
There are a number major problems and issues identified with  Melbourne’s Bicycle Network planning, each one in turn has an impacted on the other and every segment and aspect of the overall design ..
Disclaimer and warning
First it needs to be stated that a good designed bicycle network should make a positive contribution to the transport mix to any city. It must seek to address all stakeholders concerns and not favour any one interest group above the interests of another. So before anyone goes on and seeks to engaged in personal abuse and vilification lets be clear Bicycle Paths are good and should be encouraged.
Those that engage in such personal abuse and attacks are not helping to serve their cause. Writing abusive emails or making threats or acts of intimidation might make you feel good at a football match but that is all. Please note that all abusive comments are logged and recorded.
Having stated that there are a number of issues and principles that need to be established to assist in planning the network.
Major roads should be avoided 
Where possible a bike path should seek to use less congested roads and streets. Canning Street, Carlton, is a good example of a inner city bike path that works.   It is a local street that carries minimal traffic and is ideal for cycling. This is evident by the fact that it is Melbourne’s most popular bicycle commuter route.
Lane separation
The so called “Copenhagen Bicycle Lane” separation design should be avoided and only adopted as a last resort. To date they have not worked in Melbourne.  Melbourne unlike Copenhagen has wider streets and different overall traffic patterns.
Consideration should be given, in the first instance, to installing a chevron line marking bike lanes,  The bike lane on Claredon Street, East Melbourne, should have been considered as a preferred option before adopting a “Copenhagen Bicycle Lane” closed separation option. 
The Claredon Street Bicycle Lane design addresses cyclists main concern for safety related to lane separation and risk of “dooring”. (Accidents that occur of inattentive drivers and passengers of parked vehicles opening car doors in the path of an oncoming cyclist). The Claredon Street design includes chevron line markings and wider bicycle paths that allow a cyclist to travel away outside the danger zone.
Not only are chevron segmented lanes safer they are also cheaper and as such allow for construct “more bike path for our buck”. The Claredon Street design solution was recommend by Melbourne’s Senior Traffic Engineers but was excluded from consideration by management and Cathy Oake, Chairman of the Council’s Transport portfolio.
Financial resources are limited and any design should have be subject to a  cost benefit analysis.
The closed “Copenhagen style” bike lanes that have a physical separation barrier are ten times more expensive to construct the the Claredon Street option ., Closed lanes create congestion, restict use of the road space by other users, including emergency access, and generate additional safety issues concerns with other road users.
For the price of the 350m St Kilda Road physical lane separation proposal we could install 4Km of chevron bike lane and even more bike lanes could have been upgraded for $2.6 Million spent on Latrobe Street, making it much better and safer overall for cyclists and commuters alike.
The chevron lane separation design is overall a better choice. An option that the City of Melbourne failed to give due and proper consideration.
Public Safety
There are serious issues related to the safety of disabled commuters, taxi and bus passengers with the “Copenhagen closed lane” design.  Drivers and passenger alighting from vehicles parked next to a 21 metre physical concrete barrier have to remain balanced on the separation barrier and extra take care in crossing the neighbouring bike path  to get access to the adjacent footpath. A dangerous situation that discriminates against disabled computers the most.  Unloading from taxis and buses is almost impossible. Try unloading a bus load of 20 or more passengers onto a small narrow concrete strip away from the footpath as will be the case in St Kilda Road.
Whilst bicyclists may be safe from dooring, motorist now run the risk of opening doors in the path of passing traffic. Issues the council had failed to mention in its report.
The other solution is to withdraw On-Street parking adjacent to closed bike lanes but that would result in a loss of Council revenue.
Latrobe Street
Costing $2.6Million the Latrobe Street bike path that has just recently been installed has already proven to be a disaster. It’s design, location and implementation is wrong, safety issues not properly considered and a nightmare in terms of urban design, heritage, cleaning and storm water drainage.
The problems with Latrobe Street are considerable and should have been identified earlier in the design stage of the development and should have been subjected to a review process now it is in place.
The fact that these issues were overlooked raises serious questions in relation to the management and professional standing of the City of Melbourne engineering services. (Most likely a managerial problem)
The failure and refusal of the City Council to undertake a comprehensive review of previous bike lanes on Albert Street and the Northern section of Swanston Street should have alerted the City council of the problems that Latrobe Street is facing. Senior Engineers who did express these concerns were ignored or overridden by management
Apart from the design issue the other significant problem with Latrobe Street is the choice of transit route. Latrobe Street should never have been chosen.
The City Council should have developed Abbecket Street or Franklin Street as an alternative bike path option.
Latrobe Street is proving to a big embarrassment to the City Council and this is the main reason why the Lord Mayor and management were opposed the motion put forward by Councillors Richard Foster and Jackie Watts. It would have been prudent and responsible for the City Council to pause for one month and engaged the community by holding a mid project public review before proceeding to make the same mistakes in St Kilda Road.
The City Council knows it is facing a major problem and is desperate to try and keep the lid on it all in a futile effort to avoid it boiling over or erupting adding to the  inevitable in a total loss of confidence in the Council’s engineering services. After all they Council approved the project and spent $2.6 Million creating the problem on Latrobe Street. 
Avoiding an open public review or attacking those that advocate a review and rethink is not going to make the problem go away.
Like the Collins Class submarine patching up the project to try and make it work is a be a big ask also. Piecemeal band-aid solutions to a problem that should not have been created in the first place.
The City Council, as part of its consultation processtold stakeholders that there would be no loss of amenity or parking. 
Already Council has had to consider removing on-street parking. There are numerous issues related to the design of crossroad intersections and driveway access that place both cyclist and motorists safety at risk. In short the management and design of the project has little to desire, it’s far from the success the Councillors claimed it was. 
Princes Bridge
Princes Bridge is a work in progress. Already the promises made by the Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle,  have proven to be false.  Travel time across the bridge is twice as long then prior to the south bound lane closure. the number of cars transiting from Swanston Street into Flinders Street is 2 to 25% less then before. 
Councillor Stephen Mayne reported that Council has estimated that there has been a 12% reduction in traffic throughput out of Swanston Street (this does not correspond with  independent surveys. Prior to the lane closure there were 20-22 cars per light cycle. Currently only 14-16 Cars are exiting into Flinders Street per light cycle) The reduction in throughput and performance could be address to some extent by tweaking the light signaling, something that the Lord Mayor said the Council would do but to date have not changed.  It has been suggested that the Council Engineers had planned to cause congestion and by doing so aimed to reduce the number of motorists using the bridge.
Robert Doyle said that Princess Bridge Lane closure was a trial but no one seriously considered this as anything other misdirection.
Alternative access
Most of the North bound traffic crossing Princes Bridge turns right into Flinders Street and then turns again either at Russell or Exhibition Street.
It would be desirable if Princess Bridge was closed to all non essential vehicular traffic.
The freeing of Princes Bridge from vehicular traffic would allow for better public transport interchange services but this can only be done if there was an alternative river crossing East of Princes Bridge.
The Swan Street Bridge is not suitable and is already suffering severe congestion by traffic transiting in a West East direction.
The  other option is for the construction of a second bridge bridge connecting  Linithgow and Batman Avenue providing a North-South traffic alternative.
Flinders Street
Next on the Council’s agenda is the South bound lane on Princes Bridge,  
In order to construct a south bound bike lane the City of Melbourne in association with Vicroads needs to reduce the volume of traffic and the number of lanes using Flinders Street and tuning left into Swanston Street. Most of the cars on Flinders street are exiting the Eastern end of the City and travelling South.   Flinders Street West of Swanston already restricted to one lane traffic . 
The construction of an alternative river crossing off Batman  Avenue joining Linlithgow Avenue on the South side would ease traffic demand on Flinders/Swantson Street South on to St Kilda Road.
The Council’s solution is to remove a lane of traffic which will generate congestion which in turn will reduce the number of cars through displacement.
Road Safety and Consultation
One major criticism of the Council’s consultation process was the failure of the City Council to publish all the submissions received. Instead the council  published an edited summary provided by the administration. The failure and refusal of the city council to publish the submission has added to the mistrust and  loss of confidence overall in the consultation process.
Most of the “consultation” that did  take place was in the form of information of what was already decided. There was little to no consideration of variable alternatives.  Many of the stakeholders contacted said they did not think the City Council listened or considered their opinions or concerns. They were just heard out or sent information so the Council could claim it had consulted widely.  
A major part of the consultation undertaken was with the members of the bicycle lobby meeting on coffee shops and various venues, this was disproportionate to other road users.
Earlier on in May that the Council’s “Pedestrian, Bicyclist and Motorcyclist safety plan had to be deferred as Motorcyclist and Scooter Riders were not consulted in the first draft presented to Council. Motorcyclists and scooter riders face the same problems as cyclists in terms of safety and they rightly felt their concerns were not being addressed and in many cases the priority given to cyclists was compounding problems related to their safety
Council Engineering Services Department also overlooked a number of other significant stakeholders in the consultation process.  Missing from the list of was Ambulance Victoria and the Metropolitan Fire-brigade who were not listed on the road safety plan .
There is ongoing concern that the various bike paths, tram stops and lane reduction has compromised Melbourne’s emergency response capability.
St Kilda Road “Copenhagen lanes” will also impact on  emergency services response times between the Alfred Hospital and the City.
There is a recognized urgent need for a series of “Emergency stress testing” to ascertain the preparedness of the City to cope with an emergency or possible terrorist attack. We can not afford to ignore or put off this issue much longer. The sooner it is addressed and a comprehensive stress plan is implemented the sooner we can identify problems and restore confidence in the cities preparedness to copy with an emergency.
Major Stake holders sidelined
Organization such as Vicroads, the RACV, Bus proprietors, Street Traders, Emergency Services, the State Disability Advocate and the Taxi industry have all had their concerns down graded or discarded.  Details and copies of their submissions have not been made been published on the Council’s web site.
War in Cars: Engineering Congestion
Instead of managing traffic the City Council is engaged in a war on cars by “Engineering Congestion” in the belief that Cars will bypass the city. This will ave a flow on effect and impact on small business retailers who fear losing customers to the suburban shopping centres. Retailers are already suffering from the city’s high cost of car parking.
City Council will do anything to avoid criticism or accountability
Last Tuesdays refusal to engage the community on public debate and undertake a review, before pushing ahead with designs that are proven to not work provides little hope or confidence that the Council is prepared to address important issues, other than placing  the perceived needs of cyclists ahead of all other road users and stakeholders.
No satisfactory explanation has been given for not alternative solutions that are better, cheaper and more effective. 
Welcome to Melbourne “Bike obsessed” City Council. A Council that will go to any length to limit to prevent any rethink or review of its Transport plan
Greens Councillor, Cathy Oake, is chairman of the council’s transport portfolio

Stephen Mayne: seeks to gag public debate by voting against holding a review

In a rather irrational tirade “I support of open public debate“, Stephen Mayne, votes to gag debate and deny a review on a very important topical issue.

This was the first time Stephen Maybe had opportunity in a Council public forum to talk on bikes and bike lanes specifically, yet he would not allow discussion on the merits of the design or its implementation, preferring instead to vote against a rational motion put forward my Councillors Richard Foster seeking to hold a review of Melbourne’s Bike Lanes following the end of the Princes Bridge Trial in September.

What does Councillor Mayne and the Lord Mayor Robert Doyle fear? Are they afraid  to air Council’s dirty linen and allow public discussion on the merit of the designs and decisions made?

This is not about bikes per-say it is about the design and implementation of the segmented bike lanes and the prudent use of Council’s financial resources.   

Why did Stephen Mayne vote against a review that included a review of the Latrobe Street Bike Lane? That was the main focus and reason for a review

Latrobe Street Cost $2.6 Million. It does not work..Wrong design wrong location bad implementation.

It should be reviewed before we go and repeat the same mistakes on St Kilda Road. 330m lane costing $330,000

The alternative “Claredon Street” Bike Lane design should have been considered. It is cheaper and better.  Council must explain its position and failure to adopt this design.

If you have nothing to hide publish in full all submissions in relation to Melbourne’s Transport Plan

Stephen Mayne speaking to deny public debate 6-Aug-2013


Councillor Richard Foster – The Motion for a review that Doyle rejected 6-Aug-2013

Stephen Mayne: seeks to gag public debate by voting against holding a review

In a rather irrational tirade “I support of open public debate“, Stephen Mayne, votes to gag debate and deny a review on a very important topical issue.

This was the first time Stephen Maybe had opportunity in a Council public forum to talk on bikes and bike lanes specifically, yet he would not allow discussion on the merits of the design or its implementation, preferring instead to vote against a rational motion put forward my Councillors Richard Foster seeking to hold a reviw of Melbourne’s Bike Lanes following the end of the Princes Bridge Trial in September.

What does Coucnillr Mayne and the Lord Mayor Robert Doyle fear? Are they afraid  to air Council’s dirty linen and allow public discussion on the merit of the designs and decisions made?

This is not about bikes per-say it is about the design and implementation of the segmented bike lanes and the prudent use of Council’s financial resources.   

Why did Stephen Mayne vote against a review that included a review of the Latrobe Street Bike Lane? That was the main focus and reason for a review

Latrobe Street Cost $2.6 Million. It does not work..Wrong design wrong location bad implementation.

It should be reviewed before we go and repeat the same mistakes on St Kilda Road. 330m lane costing $330,000

The alternative “Claredon Street” Bike Lane design should have been considered. It is cheaper and better.  Council must explain its position and failure to adopt this design.

If you have nothing to hide publish in full all submissions in relation to Melbourne’s Transport Plan

Stephen Mayne speaking to deny public debate 6-Aug-2013

Councillor Richard Foster seeking to provide the review that Doyle rejected.

Doyle rejects open public review of bike plan design and impementation – offers internal review instead

Melbourne Lord Mayor offered to conduct an internal departmental review behined closed doors but rejected the proposal put forward by Councillor Richard Forster to hold an in open open session a review of the Princes Bridge and St Kilda Road bike lane proposals

Acknowledging that there were major problems with the design and implementation of the Council’s $2.6 Million  Latrobe Street bike lane Robert Doyle voted to deny public scrutiny and review of St Kilda Road development based on the the Latrobe Street design

Thank you for your email on 29 July 2013 regarding various traffic management issues.
We will be conducting a thorough investigation into your concerns, which should be completed by 16 August 2013.
If you wish to provide more information or need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Geoff Robinson, Manager Engineering Services quoting Customer Service Request number 2340565

The City of Melbourne is committed to continually improving the way we do business and we appreciate you taking the time to contact us.
Yours sincerely
Robert DoyleLord Mayor

St Kilda Road Bike Plan Risk to Commuter and Predestrian Safety

City of Melbourne’s ill-considered $330k St Kilda Lane Bicycle Lane will trade off pedestrian and motorist safety for a marginal gain in cyclist safety. 

Melbourne City Council plans to install a 300 metre section of St Kilda Road Separated bike path against the advice of its own engineers. The bike separation design is similar to the design of the LaTrobe Street bike lane that was installed last month.

The proposed lane design will force motorists to park on the outside of the bike lane 3 meters from the footpath creating a major risk to pedestrian and motorist safety.

Passengers alighting from parked vehicles will have to negotiate a balancing act on the one meter concrete strip and check for bicycles racing down the bike lane whilst running to reach the footpath on the other side.  The design will place families with children and the elderly safety at serious risk.  Mums with prams or those with wheel chairs will not be able to safely park their cars in the 3 hour parking zones.  Bus drivers and taxi operators will have similar safety concerns when dropping off passengers.

The proposed “island of danger” separation barrier will be installed in the south bound location between Princes Bridge and Linlithgow  Avenue south of the Floral Clock. Beyond Linlithgow Avenue the bike lane will revert back into the standard bike lane design adding to confusion and road safety concerns.

This part of St Kilda Road is a favorite drop-off point and parking location for those visiting the gardens and the Arts Centre/Concert Halls

Melbourne City Council Traffic Engineers prefer to install a line-marked lane only without the inside dangerous separation barrier but have been overridden by Engineering Services Manager Geoff Robertson.   City Council Traffic Engineers sight the successful design of the Claredon Street East Melbourne bike lane where the width of the bike lane is such that bikes travel outside of the car door opening zone.  A line painted only bike lane is significantly cheaper than teh ocst of a physical lane separation and would allow the Council to extend the lane beyond Linlithgow Avenue, It also allows emergency vehicles unimpeded access.

Melbourne City Council is under fire over it implementation of its Bicycle Network. The $2.6 Million Latrobe Street experiment is considered to be a complete disaster with the Council now having to remove on-street car parking which has since been found to be unsafe.

The current City Council has never considered or approved the proposed design in open committee. Stakeholders have been denied the opportunity to have their concerns heard.

Crs Stephen Mayne and Rohan Leppert

The Chairman of the City Council’s Governance and Finance Portfolio and Deputy Chair of Planning, Stephen Mayne (who campaigned on open transparency governance platform) has refused to subject the proposed development of a review process. Councillor Mayne is oblivious to the extravagant waste preferring to ignore the professional advise of the City Engineers and instead action the advise of a rouge manager in order to please the Green Councillors who have placed Cyclists interests ahead of public safety concerns of commuters and pedestrians

Councillor Richard Foster has expressed concern and opposition to the St Kilda Rd development by has been railroad by the Greens and  the Lord Mayor Robert Doyle into remaining silent. Councillor Foster wants the development referred to open Council Committee to allow Council to consider the opinions of all stakeholders and the pros and cons of the various designs.

Other City Councillors are also concerned  about the development and the extent of intimidation and railroading of the process by Senior Council Management

Council under review for not fulfilling its statutory obligations

The City of Melbourne has come under review in a blame game between governments as the focus on the collapse of the Swanston Street brick wall, which killed three people, shifts from a period of mourning to seeking answers as to how this tragedy was allowed to happen.

The Australian Newspaper has began asking questions as to who is responsible for maintaining public safety on building sites?

Mathew Guy, State Minster for Planning, has correctly pointed the finger at the City of Melbourne as they are the authority that is responsible for site management and approval of construction of hoardings and advertising signs within the City

Mr Guy said the City Council was responsible for the approval of all advertising signs in Melbourne, not the government. He had approved a permit for the construction of Grocon’s “Portrait” apartment development on the site but not the hoarding.

Melbourne City Council has been unable to locate paperwork relating to any application.

Melbourne City Councillor and Chairman of the Council’s Finance and Governance and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Portfolio, Stephen Mayne, refused to answer questions as to if the City of Melbourne had issued a permit for the construction of the wooden hoarding fixed to the masonry wall that collapse a week ago today.

@melbcity comrade, I have no information and felt it would be insensitive to start making public/political statements after 3 tragic deaths.

— Stephen Mayne (@MayneReport) April 4, 2013

 Cr. Mayne also was unable to indicate if the Council had inspected the site in fulfillment of its statutory and fiduciary duty.  Public Safety is the prime directive for any government.

In an attempt to deflect cristicism Cr Mayne twitted in reply

@melbcity of course I’m asking questions internally. You seem to want PUBLIC grandstanding which would be insensitive after 3 tragic deaths.
— Stephen Mayne (@MayneReport) April 4, 2013

Whilst we share concern for the loss and tragic deaths of three innocent people this does not excuse or exempt the City of Melbourne from providing answers to questions that most Melbournes are asking.  “Who was responsible for this accident and what responsibility does the City of Melbourne have in overseeing public safety”? “Why did the Council not fulfill it’s statutory duty of care”?

What questions has Councillor Mayne been asking and what were the answers received in response?

If Councillor Mayne is sincere in his expression of grief then he would best serve those who lost their life in this tragic event by ensuring that all responsible, including the City of Melbourne, are held to account for their actions and failings.

The City of Melbourne must initiate a independent review of it’s own involvement, responsibilities and statutory obligations surrounding this tragedy. It must not seek to side step or pass the buck.  The public deserve and expect sincere open and transparent governance.


CFMEU State secretary John Setka is calling for an independent inquiry to give the public confidence in the findings. “We need an independent inquiry and we can see what they can come up with,” he said.

Under Melbourne City Council rules all hoardings need a permit and must be able to withstand high winds. But the council, WorkSafe and Grocon are refusing to say if the hoarding on the wall in question, which was put in place last year, was signed off as safe by an engineer.

Mr Setka said that he was stunned that no-one would clarify whether the hoarding had received a permit.“Three people are dead and people have a right to know why,” he said.

He said that people needed permits to put up a shed in their backyard, so the hoarding should have come under the same scrutiny. Mr Setka said there were concerns that the wooden hoarding may have compromised the integrity of the wall.

The Melbourne City Council said in a statement it was saddened by Thursday’s incident, but refused to release further details. “With investigations underway, it is important that all the information is gathered and carefully assessed,” the statement said.

“As a result, the City of Melbourne will be focusing its efforts on supporting those inquiries and is not in a position to comment further at this time.”

Leppert Occupies the Melbourne Den

Greens Melbourne City Councillor, Rohan Leppert, plays cheap divisive politics and in the process brings the City Council into disrepute.

Rohan Leppert was elected to the City of Melbourne last October, his election was due to a flaw in the method of counting the vote which inflated the value of the Greens at the expense of Team Doyle. 8% of Melbourne voters were disenfranchised as a result of the system of proportional representation and the use of the Droop quota. Under the Droop quota the total number of vote is divided by ten and a slice of the cake discarded

Analysis of the  2012 City of Melbourne votes, using a full proportional voting system where the cake is divided into nine slices, indicates that Rohan Leppert would not have been elected, in his place community candidate Kevin Chamberlin should have been elected.  A pure proportional system would not have discarded or disenfranchised Team Doyle’s 8% surplus, each vote would have equal weight.

Rohan Leppert is calling on the City Council to refer the conduct of the Victorian police to the newly created IBAC anti-corruption body.

Rohan Leppert will not secure support for what is widely considered to be pure opportunism and grandstanding.   More importantly it is an abuse of process. If Rohan Leppert sincerely believes that the events surrounding the Occupy Melbourne protest warrants criminal investigation and review by IBAC he could have acted as an individual or with the support of other organization. IBAC ahs much more important issues to consider then frivolous political opportunism.  further there are other avenues for review that should be considered prior to referral to IBAC

Rohan Leppert is a clear indication the style of  politics advocated by the Greens.   There are much more pressing issues such as the need to restore open and transparent governance in the City Council, issues related to traffic management, infrastructure,  planning ,finance and electoral reform that need addressing that Rohan Leppert has not addressed. 

Whilst Rohan Leppert seeks to claim the mantle of civil libertarian the fact is he is naive and undemocratic.  The Greens themselves are renowned for the lack of transparency in there party policy development with Journalists denied access to their state conference forums.  Rophan Leppert himself has also been critic for banning those critical of Green policies from following him on Twitter.  A case of do as he says not what he does.

Rohan Leppert, having been elected to the City Council  must also consider his fiduciary duty to the Council as a whole and the  Councils local laws not sectional political grandstanding.

This issue would also be a test of integrity for other City Councillors including Jackie Watts, Richard Foster and Stephen Mayne.

Hidden Meetings: City of Melbourne Caught-out

The City of Melbourne has been exposed for breaching article 80A of the Local Government Act.

In accordance with section 80A of the Local Government Act 1989 (the Act), written records of assemblies of Councillors are to be reported at an ordinary meeting of the Council as soon as practicable.

On February 7 Maverick Councillor Stephen Mayne reported in his “Tweet” that he had in fact chaired an undisclosed unadvertised Finance and Governance Committee meeting

Enjoyed 90 minute session this afternoon chairing first Finance and Governance committee meeting at City of Melb. Lots of meaty debate.
— Stephen Mayne (@MayneReport) February 7, 2013

The Melbourne City Council holding secret meetings behind closed doors comes as no surprise, as they continue to deny public scrutiny of their actions.

A review of the City of Melbourne published report tabled for next weeks Council meeting fails to list or mention the meeting that Cr Mayne claimed he had chaired on February 7.

The failure of the Council administration to properly report all meetings of Councillors has highlighted the full extent and level of contempt the Council administration will go to to avoid disclosure and accountability.  Either Stephen Mayne has lied or misrepresented the Council in reporting his tweet or the City of Melbourne has been negligent or deliberately seeking to avoid reporting meetings of the Council.

Decisions made behind closed doors and unreported decisions by Council Staff under “delegation” leaves the City of Melbourne wide open to the allegation of ongoing corruption with the current City Council complacent to the deceit. 

Mayne caught out holding secret meetings behind closed doors

Do as Stephen says not what he does.

Melbourne City Councillor and self proclaimed advocate for open transparent democracy, Stephen Mayne, has been caught out chairing a secret “behind closed doors” City of Melbourne Finance and Governance Committee Meeting.

Enjoyed 90 minute session this afternoon chairing first Finance and Governance committee meeting at City of Melb. Lots of meaty debate.
— Stephen Mayne (@MayneReport) February 7, 2013

Stephen Mayne tweeted today that he had in fact chaired a City Council Finance and Governance Committee Meeting.

No such meeting has been listed on the City Council’s web site. The meeting held was not advertised or open to members of the public as required under section 89 of the Victorian Local Government Act.

There is ongoing concern at the legality of City of Melbourne’s Council’s Secret Meetings and their non compliance with State laws.

Complaints to the Local Government Inspectorate on this issue is still pending review.,

Self Deception: Oh What web they weave

Stephen Mayne’s Years Wrap-up is a lot of self indulgent misconception.

Mayne claims to support open and transparency yet he has done noting to hold the Council to account and put an end to the misconception, deceit and avoidance of accountability.  Decisions of Council are being are behind closed doors, with a nod and a wink decisions made under delegation .  No documents, No reports with no open public discussion.

Stephen Mayne himself has been reported as wanting lesser public sessions and there are increasing reports that Councillors are not responding to City residents and traders concerns.  Mayne is too busy shopping in Doncaster Shopping Town.  Transparency and openness is the last item on his agenda.

What is interesting and telling in Mayne’s report

Mayne stated “It’s all very well having lots of briefing papers available to read, but this is never as good as having a lively verbal debate around the table with ideas flowing back and forth. I always enjoyed challenging Manningham developers in front of the officers during private sessions and then later asking the officers what they thought of the answers. There’s limited opportunity to do this at Melbourne.”

Yet Kathy Alexander in her recent correspondence state that the session were verbal presentations only.

The Horse and Carriage Street Traders were denied any access or input to proposed policy changes put forward to the Council at its November 27 “Closed Session” Councillor Forum meeting. According to Alexander there are no written reports, documents or minuets of the discussions held.

Decisions made under delegation were implemented without anyone knowing exactly what was being implemented in the name of the Council. Councillor Richard Foster had been made aware of the Street Traders concerns yet he failed to have their concerns heard in public. The Council just gave a nod and a wink and hey presto.  The Horse and Carriages were removed from Swanston Street, and denied parking outside the Town Hall.

We are told that Stephen Mayne was contacted by representatives of the Horse and Carriage Association but he did not respond to their numerous calls and SMS. 

This is a good example of the systematic problems facing the Council. Open transparency and good governance no longer exist in Melbourne.  The system is corrupt and widely open is misuse and abuse.

Extraordinary revelations: Council decisions made by a nod and a wink

Melbourne City Council endorses decisions made by the Administration on the basis of verbal presentations. No Minutes no documents and no reports.

Replies forwarded by Melbourne CEO, Kathy Alexander (See below) claim that there is no documentation of discussions or decisions made at the City of Melbourne Councillor Forums.

On November 27, the City Council considered a a number of issues presented to the Council at a Councillor Forum. Issues listed for discussion included Melbourne Street Trading policy (Horse and Carriages) and other issues of significance related to policy development and Council administration.

The City Council, just days before Christmas, implemented changes to Council’s policies removing Horse and Carriage permit zones from Swanston Street outside the Town Hall. There was no consultation with stakeholders and no written reports published or made available to the elected Council or the public. Previous City Councils have rejected moves to remove horse and carriages from trading in Swanston Street, which was recognized as poviding a valued service and tourist attraction to visitors of the City.

Clearly a decision has been made and acted on. Exactly who made the decision and under what authority they had is unclear.

This is systematic of a number of serious flaws in the administration of the City Council. Most controversial decisions are made just before Christmas when there is little to no public scrutiny or media attention. The decisions are made in the back rooms by unknown persons and without any oversight of public scrutiny.

The fact that issues are being presented and decided at Councillor Forums without any documentation presented to the City Council is beyond belief. City Councillors are either complicit to the deceit or left in the dark and not properly informed. This reflects poorly not only on the recently elected City Council but more so on the administration. Issues considered by the Council at secret closed meetings are not presented or discussed at more formal meetings of Council.

Closed meetings, where public policy is discussed by Council Officials, leaves the Council wide open to allegations of corruption and denies public access to the decisions and administration of the City. There is no published record of decisions made under delegation.

The “Councillor Forums” are a means of subverting the requirements of section 89 of the Victorian Local Government Act. The suggestion  that Councillor Forum presentations are verbal and there is no minutes and no documentation allows the Council to claim that the meeting does not fall under the provisions of s89. A claim that is still under dispute as the forum by any name is still a meeting of the Council.

This matter is currently before the Victorian State Government Local Government Inspectorate whose charter is to oversee the compliance of the Local Government Act. If these meetings (Councillor Forums) are allowed to continue, unabated, with Council decisions being made behind closed doors in the absence of public scrutiny or proper documentation then public confidence and accountability of government will continue to decline.

— Copy of reply received —

Subject: RE: Minuets and reports of Council Forum held on November 27, 2012
Received: Thursday, 27 December 2012 13:36 

Dear Mr van der Craats
I advise that in accordance with Section 80A of the Local Government Act, no Minutes are documented for Council Forum meetings which are verbal presentations.
Kind regards
Kathy Alexander | Chief Executive Officer
City of Melbourne | 90-120 Swanston Street, Melbourne, 3000 | GPO Box 1603 Melbourne, 3001
T: 03 9658 9835 | F: 03 9658 9440 | E:
We value: Integrity | Courage | Accountability | Respect | Excellence.

Cr. Richard Foster playing cat and mouse

There are serious issues confronting the City of Melbourne (Such as open and transparent governance and this is the best Cr Richard Foster (@Richo_Foster ) can come up with.

T’was the day before Christmas and all through the Town Hall not a creature was stirring, not even Cr Mayne @MayneReport

Richard Foster is fast becoming a liability to the community not an asset. Prior to and immediately after his election Foster rightly claimed the high moral ground and called for an end to Secret Council meetings. Yet he has done nothing to raise the issue or to hold the Council to account by calling on it comply with the provisions of s89 of the Local Government Act. A quick look at some of Foster’s tweets raises serious doubt.

Richard Foster has fallen out with “Our Melbourne” Lord Mayor Candidate David Nolte, with Forster quickly disowning Nolte and speaking disparagingly about him around Town Hall.  Many local residents and constituents are also reporting that Foster has hidden himself behind the barriers of the bureaucracy and can not be contacted.  Yet he is reported to be prowling the corridors of Town Hall looking for maverick Stephen Mayne, another Melbourne City Councillor who is noted for his absence and lack of engagement or support for open transparent government.  Both should read s89 and think long and hard about the legal and moral obligations.

Decisions by Proxy: Councillor Forums under review for non compliance of s89 of the ACT

A complaint has been forward to the Victorian Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate requesting that the State Government investigate the management and administration of the City of Melbourne Councillor Forums and its compliance with section 89 of the Victorian Local Government Act 1989 (The Act)

Section 89 of the Local Government Act provides for the public right to attend all council meetings with the exception when matters of confidentiality are discussed. 

The City of Melbourne considers a number of issues that effect Council policy and its administration at the Council Forums which are held in closed session. 

On November 27, 2012 the City of Melbourne held a Councillor Forum in which a number of issues of Council policy and administration were discussed.  This meeting was closed to the public and its agenda and reports were not published.

Decision by Proxy

The City of Melbourne falsely claim that because “they do not make decisions” at the Councillor Forums they do not fall under the provisions of section 89 of the Act. The Council administration acts under delegations on the recommendations and discussions arising at the Councillors’ forum.  This is akin to decisions by proxy.

The City of Melbourne publishes a record of the meeting,  pursuant to the Local Government regulations, weeks after the event. However the agenda of the Councillor Forums are not published prior to the meetings and members of the public are denied access to detailed information, reports or input into the deliberations and discussions of the Councillors.  Members of the pubic wishing to gain access to information and reports presented at the Councillor forums  need to make an application under the provisions an FOI legislation which is a further abuse of process.

Denial of natural justice.  

Many of the issues raised and discussed in closed session at Councillor Forums effect public policy and as they are not open to the public deny members of the public the right to observe, monitor  and/or provide input into the decisions of Council.  Detailed reports. minutes and discussion papers presented to at the Councillor Forums  are not published or made available to the public via the Council Web site.

One member of the public said “they had requested copies of the reports being presented to Council but were denied access“.  The Council Officer concerned said “that this is not the way we do business“. Matters under consideration are no longer discussed in open public forums but are decided behind closed doors.

The newly elected Council has failed to act or question the legality of the Councils actions.

Record of Delegated Authority

There is no public record or registry of decisions made under delegation.

It is difficult or impossible to determine under what authority the administration has in setting public policy or matters contained under Council Local Laws

Avoidance of compliance

The conduct of the City of Melbourne Councillor is a deliberate attempt to avoid the provisions of section 89 of the Act and to deny members of the public the right to attend and observe Council meetings.

Public Confidence

This seriously undermines public confidence in the administration of the Council and could lead to corruption as a result of the lack of transparency and accountability