The Somurek scandal:
How number-crunching affects our lives
In astounding developments, State Premier Daniel Andrews has sacked Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek, following media allegations of corruption and internal ALP branch stacking. Mr. Somyurek has been referred to Victoria Police and Victoria’s anti-corruption commission IBAC and the Premier is pushing for his expulsion from the ALP.
Marlene Kairouz, Minister for Suburban Development, Local Government and Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation has also resigned from the government, together with Assistant Treasurer Robin Scott.
Using audio and video recordings, an investigation by The Age newspaper and 60 Minutes alleged Mr Somyurek handed over thousands of dollars in cash and used parliamentary employees to create fake branch members and amass political influence within the Australian Labor Party (ALP). Mr Somyurek has denied allegations of branch-stacking but has apologised for language used in the recordings against fellow minister Gabrielle Williams and the LGBTI community.
Rather than just focus on internal ALP democracy, it is important to look at the legacies of Somyurek’s role as Local Government Minister. As we have reported in recent editions of the BRN newsletter, Somyurek drove through significant changes to the Local Government Act last year. While the revised Act includes some positive changes to the governance of municipal councils (including mandatory candidate training and codes of conduct), BRN believes that the final legislation includes a number of retrograde provisions.
The original reforms proposed a cap on electoral campaign donations and gifts, but this reform disappeared from the final act. There is a need for all parties – at local, state and federal levels – to support legislation for transparent and real-time information on campaign contributions and the introduction of donor caps. (Moreland Council website includes the list of donors to Moreland Council candidates for the 2016 elections, including all current councillors).
We are also critical of the introduction of single member wards for council elections (though for Moreland, these changes do not apply for the October 2020 elections, and will only be introduced for the following vote in 2024). In the lead up to the passage of the legislation, the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) criticised these changes, noting: “VLGA has concerns over the proposed single member ward structure, as the current electoral representation and boundary review processes independently conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) are transparent and allow for community input.”
As discussed in our April newsletter, Brunswick Residents Network believes that Moreland should stay with multi-member wards in future elections. This is in line with VEC policy, which has consistently recommended that councils like ours move to multi-member ward systems over single-member wards. Previous governments have followed VEC advice in determining Council voting systems.
BRN will hold candidates’ meetings in the lead up to this year’s Moreland Council elections, and we urge voters to take up these issues of local government democracy with all candidates – ALP, Green or independent!
Amending the planning scheme
Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, there is ongoing work on proposed amendments to the Moreland Planning Scheme. To enter into law, any major policy amendment to the planning scheme must go through a lengthy process: staff prepare a report to Councillors, who adopt the report at a monthly meeting; it’s sent out to public exhibition; staff redraft the amendment based on (some) submissions; the amendment is presented to a Planning Panel, and may be re-drafted in line with Panel recommendations; Council adopt the final version, then submit it to the Department of Planning for Ministerial approval, before finally being gazetted.
Here’s the state of play of a few amendments to the Moreland Planning Scheme, whether recently exhibited, abandoned or gazetted!
Amendment C190 – Two dwellings on a lot
In a new initiative, Moreland Council is proposing a major amendment to the Moreland Planning Scheme, for people planning to replace one dwelling with two units or townhouses. This is the most common form of planning application in the northern wards of Moreland (where blocks are generally bigger than Brunswick), but also a growing trend in our neighbourhood.
The new amendment will affect all land in residential streets in Neighbourhood Residential Zones and General Residential Zones. The Amendment proposes to “introduce an additional class of application into the VicSmart provisions to construct a dwelling if there is one dwelling existing on the lot or to construct two dwellings on a lot.”
BRN is opposed to elements of the proposed amendment, which will fast track applications by removing resident rights to notification and objection. Under the proposed amendment, if the new building meets certain planning and design standards, your neighbour can build a set of townhouses up to nine metres high without formally notifying you – and you have no right of appeal to VCAT.
Council staff argue that only one in ten objections to such projects is sustained, and that staff time and energy can be saved by removing resident rights. Council’s fact sheet on Amendment C190 states: “Third party rights of review are adding to the time taken to obtain a decision but not altering the outcome in any meaningful way . . . By requiring development to adhere to all standards, it will be of high quality. If any of the requirements are sought to be varied, the application will be processed within the standard planning application process with public notice and VCAT review rights applicable.”
But this definition of ‘high quality’ and ‘standards’ are in the eye of the beholder. Moreland Council staff have a track record of repeatedly ignoring concerns raised by residents over issues of amenity, traffic management, neighbourhood character and overshadowing. Staff have repeatedly recommended projects that breach Council’s own design guidelines or height limits.
There is certainly a need to streamline the complex and costly planning system. But this should not be achieved by taking away the right of residents to have a say in the re-development of their neighbourhood. Moreland Council should do more to campaign for reform of VCAT, which was supposed to be a non-adversarial tribunal open to the community.
Amendment C190 is now on public exhibition. Read the Council factsheet linked above, and if you have concerns, you can make a written submission to express your views. Submissions must be received by Friday 17 July 2020,
Send your submission by email (firstname.lastname@example.org ) or mail to: Strategic Planning, Submission to Amendment C190, Moreland City Council, Locked Bag 10, Moreland, VIC 3058.
Amendment C189 – Canopy trees
With many townhouse and units building close to the boundary, there’s a danger that tree canopy will be lost through the removal of shady trees, as front and rear gardens disappear.
Amendment C189 to the Moreland Planning scheme proposes to require the planting of shady trees in medium density housing, by adding landscaping requirements to planning schedules for the Neighbourhood Residential Zone, General Residential Zone, Residential Growth Zone and Mixed-Use Zones.
Amendment C189 has already been to a Planning Panel, which reported in April that “the canopy tree planting standards proposed to be introduced are soundly-based, and adequately respond to the different residential zone types and other medium density housing design components and policies of the Planning Scheme.”
Amendment C183: Moreland Parking Implementation Plan
Parking is a vexed issue for many residents across the municipality. Debate over parking has heightened after the new Moreland Integrated Transport Strategy (MITS) proposed a major mode shift in transport, supporting lower rates of car ownership through parking controls. A new Amendment C183 aimed to introduce new parking regulations under the Moreland Parking Implementation Plan. BRN supports the objective of these changes, but believes that Council had not properly engaged with the community to fully address the practical effects of the policy.
This failure to carry community sentiment has led to Moreland Council’s latest Waterloo (with Council playing the role of Napoleon, not Wellington). Following a critical report from the Planning Panel and community backlash – amplified by ALP/Greens rivalry in an election year – Moreland Council has now abandoned the proposed Amendment C183.
The Amendment aimed to remove minimum parking requirements for new development projects and introduce maximum car parking rates for a number of areas in the Brunswick, Coburg and Glenroy Activity Centres. But the State Government Planning Panel, in its report issued last month, sent Council planners back to the drawing board. The Panel report stated:
“The underlying strategic basis for the MITS and MPIP is supported in State and local planning policy and the Panel agrees that supporting lower rates of car ownership through parking controls is a legitimate means to achieve the Council’s sustainable transport objectives.
“Council has relied almost solely on its policy of reducing car ownership to justify removing minimum rates in favour of applying maximums. Council submitted that the application of maximums would remove barriers to developers providing less (or zero) parking, thereby driving down car ownership and reducing housing costs.
“The Panel is concerned that Council has not adequately assessed the current state of parking in Activity Centres and therefore does not have a proper understanding of the possible consequences of the Amendment. There is no mapping of areas of under or over supply and no modelling of future car parking supply and demand based on projected land use . . . The level of survey, analysis and modelling undertaken to inform the Amendment is, by comparison to the work done to support similar amendments in other municipalities, severely lacking.”
At their monthly meeting in May, Moreland Councillors resolved to abandon Amendment C183, and write to the Minister for Planning and all objectors advising of Council’s decision.
They further decided to “undertake further parking survey and modelling work in and around Activity Centres and Neighbourhood Centres to develop a comprehensive car parking plan to fully understand the impacts of revised parking requirements and inform a future planning scheme amendment.”
This issue has been hand-balled to the new Council to be elected in October. The resolution decided that staff should “undertake survey and modelling work and undertake a further planning scheme amendment to the annual budget process for the relevant financial year, likely 2022-23, noting the timing of these actions is subject to the duration of the COVID-19 State of Emergency in Victoria.”
The best ways to reduce transport congestion should be high on the agenda during the forthcoming Council elections. Ask your candidates what concrete proposals they have to improve our neighbourhood!
Amendment C164 – Implement the land use directions of the Moreland Industrial Land Strategy for the Brunswick Activity Centre
In 2015, Council approved the revised Moreland Industrial Land Strategy 2015-2030 (MILS), with the objective of rezoning industrial land that might be used for mixed-use (commercial and/or residential) purposes. Over the last few years, Council has identified numerous pockets of land, especially in industrial sites around Brunswick, to be rezoned for re-development.
Last month, the State Government formally gazetted Amendment C164 to the Moreland Planning Scheme, in two parts.
One provision rezones 127 properties within the Brunswick Activity Centre in accordance the MILS strategy, from existing Commercial 1 Zone (C1Z), Commercial 2 Zone (C2Z) and Industrial 3 Zone (IN3Z) to Mixed Use Zone (MUZ).
The second provision rezones land at 215, 217, 219 Albion Street, Brunswick and 219, 221 Nicholson Street, Brunswick East from Industrial 1 Zone and Industrial 3 Zone respectively to Commercial 1 Zone.
Brunswick heritage crumbles
Neglect eats away Brickworks heritage
Dawson Street was blocked off last Friday after a roof collapsed at the historic Hoffmans Brickworks site. This is a further blow to residents who have been fighting to have historic buildings preserved in accordance with the agreement made when the site was re-developed for housing. (Channel 9 picture at right)
“. . . no money has been spent on restoration, repair, or maintenance of the historic buildings, and practically nothing done to secure the site from damage.” Gary Vines, heritage expert, quoted on Brunswick Historic Brickworks Facebook Page.
The Brickworks operated until 1993, then were subsequently sold. The new owner, with developer Glenvill, prepared a Conservation Management Plan that allowed for the old Kilns 2 and 3 to be lightly partitioned – this would allow the space to be used by small businesses and art/cultural and community groups. The creation of an art space would have encouraged visitors and provided incidental exposure to the kiln spaces, opening up the Brick Pressing Shed for interpretation and public appreciation. Moreland Council contributed $200,000 to assist and there was significant interest from a gallery and pottery organisation.
The Conservation Management Plan, along with the commitments by the owner and developer, was based on an agreement that the less profitable parts of the project site would be subsidised through the development of townhouses and apartments on other parts of the site. However successive concessions have been granted, which were supposed to help with preservation of historic buildings. In reality, these concessions have gradually diminished the historic aspects of the site.
In late 2017, the owners applied for a permit to demolish the Brick Pressing Shed and the adjacent shed. The application showed images of a much larger apartment building than the plans they had when seeking approval for turning the kilns into apartments. Numerous experts and residents objected to the application. On 24 March 2018, a suspicious fire in the Brick Pressing Shed damaged some of the pressing structure and roof. Following the fire, the owner – with responsibility for maintaining the heritage site – was in discussion with Moreland Council and Heritage Victoria about a temporary roof, but as at June 2020 this has not been installed.
Brunswick’s Historic Brickworks Facebook page has further detailed information and history about the site and the advocacy of experts and residents since the 1980s. They argue that more broadly, the Hoffman Brickworks represent a failure of heritage and local government legislation over decades. Heritage Victoria and Moreland Council appear to have been hindered by the limitations on their authority and ability to oversee this development.
The group has written to the Premier and the responsible minister, expressing concern that the roof collapse will pave the way for further destruction. They are demanding that the government force the owners to make the building safe and implement the agreed conservation and interpretation works.
This site is of national historical importance as:
• The site where innovative technology – continuously firing kilns – was introduced to Australia.
• One of few remaining brickworks in Australia
• A major employer in the Brunswick area.
Information for this article from:
Disfiguring Dawson Street – how to ruin a heritage precinct
There was widespread community opposition when a nine storey building was proposed for 10 Dawson Street, Brunswick. The site is located near the intersection of Sydney Road and Dawson Street, close to Brunswick Town Hall, Brunswick Baths, Saint Ambrose Church, the Mechanics Institute and the Siteworks community centre. Council has recently spent millions of ratepayer dollars creating a community and artistic hub for Brunswick in this area, including renovation of heritage buildings.
As we reported back in December, planning application MPS/2019/130 proposed a nine-storey building, plus rooftop garden, containing an office, shop and 57 dwellings, with a reduction of standard car parking. The site currently hosts the offices of the Jesuit Social Services.
Ironically, a key objector was the Catholic Parish of Brunswick and Brunswick East, highlighting issues of inappropriate height, heritage and overshadowing of the former Catholic primary school.
Brunswick Residents Network was one of many other objectors. We submitted that “the site is in the centre of a group of heritage buildings including the Council’s Arts Precinct . . . We believe that any new buildings in this precinct should not higher than the Town Hall, and sympathetic to the style of surrounding buildings.” Apartment residents at nearby 259 Sydney Road appealed, in particular regarding loss of light.
At their recent planning meeting in June, Moreland councillors approved Council officers’ recommendations to grant a permit with a number of changes to the plans. The most significant change is the removal of two storeys (bringing the building down to seven plus roof garden). Councillors argue that any further height reduction would be knocked out at VCAT.
Park Street site for sale
Now for an update on the long-running battle over plans for a major apartment complex at 699 Park Street, overshadowing Princes Park. In our last newsletter, we reported that developers JW Land Development Pty Ltd had failed to update their plans to VCAT’s satisfaction, and their planning permit had been rejected. Now the land has been put up for sale, without a planning permit – although any buyer should have a clear picture of VCAT’s thinking. Perhaps a philanthropist could buy it, and build something beautiful and not too big. Or a park . . .
Help conserve our wild places
Yes, we do have some wild places . . and wildlife. Council’s draft Nature Plan is out for your comment. The plan sets out how our wild places on public land can be preserved and enhanced; how residents can be encouraged to help with nature conservation at home; how people can be encouraged to discover and enjoy nature; and how council can work better with Traditional Owners and community organisations to enhance nature in Moreland. Have a look at the plan, and let the Council know how what’s missing or how it can be improved.
The picture above is part of a beautiful map by local artist Sofia Sabbagh that shows local wildlife corridors.
Read the report, and give feedback via a survey, on Council’s website: https://conversations.moreland.vic.gov.au/nature-plan
You can also send a submission to email@example.com or post to Open Space Design and Development, Locked Bag 10. MORELAND VIC 3058.
Thanks for the Green Bans
The death of unionist and activist Jack Mundey last month is a loss for people concerned about urban life and environment in Australia. Jack was a remarkable man, and his work to create the Green Bans is a crucial legacy for urban Australia.
At the height of the building industry boom in the 1970s, a remarkable campaign stopped billions of dollars’ worth of indiscriminate development that was turning Australian cities into concrete jungles. Led by Jack Mundey, Bob Pringle and Joe Owens, members of the NSW Builders Labourers’ Federation risked their jobs in order to preserve heritage buildings, bush and parkland. Facing off against ruthless developers, gangsters and corrupt NSW politicians, they changed the idea of what a union could and should do, not only in urban and environment issues, but also supporting black power, women’s rights and gay and social liberation struggles.
As Wendy Bacon has argued: “Mundey strongly believed unions had an obligation to act with a socially responsible purpose that extended beyond wages and conditions. The nub of the green bans argument was that communities should have the right to shape and protect their environment, and that the workers whose labour was used to create the built environment should have a say in what was built.”
The definitive account of the Green Bans movement is written by Meredith Burgmann and Verity Burgmann: Green Bans. Red Union – Environmental Activism and the NSW Builders Labourers’ Federation (UNSW Press, Sydney, 1998). Pat Fiske’s wonderful documentary Rocking the Foundations (1985) (linked below) can be watched online for a small payment.
Our local area saw one of the first “green ban” style actions in 1970, when the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) supported local residents in saving the North Carlton railway land for a park, along with the station which is now the North Carlton Neighbourhood House. Victorian BLF leader Norm Gallagher was jailed during a campaign which halted the building of a warehouse on the land.
(Poster above by Chips McInolty)
Making walking safer
More funds needed for pedestrian safety
As Moreland Council prepares its budget for 2020-21, Brunswick Residents Network has joined with Walk on Moreland, Be Safe Streets and Pedestrian Safety for Nicholson Street Coburg to make a joint submission on budget priorities (Special thanks to Dr Andrea Bunting for her work on the submission).
The four community networks argue that Council needs to commit serious funds to make Moreland the walkable municipality that is outlined in many Council strategies. Currently Moreland is far from walkable, because of insufficient infrastructure to make walking safe. Indeed, Moreland is one of the most unsafe municipalities in Melbourne for pedestrians, according to Department of Transport statistics.
We are particularly concerned that the 2020-21 budget slashes $600,000 from Transport management. Several projects were deferred, and rather than have these funds re-allocated to urgently needed pedestrian safety projects, the funds were removed.
Our budget submission is available online, and flags a number of areas for reform to make walking safer:
- “Walk the Talk”: budget for walking must match professed support for walking
- Separate out walking and cycling infrastructure, and itemise both
- Address gross imbalance between road versus pedestrian versus cycling budgets
- Don’t slash the pedestrian safety budget. Increase it
- Increase footpath and cycleway budgets, and build missing footpaths
- Develop a Pedestrian Strategy so competing interests don’t swamp our concerns
- Allocate funds to make walking and cycling to school safer
- Construct seating along pedestrian networks and bus stops to improve accessibility
- Ensure safe pedestrian access to shopping areas
- Increase street lighting for footpaths
- Increase budget for road closures
Since last year, BRN and Walk on Moreland have been convening a monthly working group of people interesting improving the safety, accessibility and enjoyment of walking around our suburb. Please join us on the second Tuesday of the month if you’d like to throw in your ideas. During the pandemic, the Make Walking Safer meetings have gone online, using Zoom.
If you’d like to join the working group, register here for the meeting on Tuesday 14 July at 06:30 PM. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. For any other queries, contact Nancy on 0490 182041 or Andrea on 0424 508535.
Merri Creek surveys
Are you a woman who uses Merri Creek for exercise, to catch up with friends or just to enjoy some fresh air? If you don’t, is it for safety concerns?
The Merri Creek Trail is a rare piece of wide-open space in Brunswick, and incredibly busy as walkers, joggers, cyclists, and more exercise during the pandemic. But there have previously been serious assaults and security incidents along the trail.
Moreland Council has launched a survey for women, to gather information on how to make the Merri Creek area north of Moreland Road, safer and more accessible. The survey explores experiences and feelings of safety along the creek between Moreland Road and Bell Street. The survey closes on 17 July and takes around 20 minutes.
There’s also an interactive map where everyone can mark favourite places anywhere along Merri Creek – and also mark areas where you think there’s a problem and tell us how it might be fixed.
Bridge over untroubled waters
When you see a crane, you know that things are finally moving again – the construction of the Merri Creek Bridge has recommenced, with major works underway at the end of Beavers Road after a COVID-related pause. Take a walk down behind Ceres to have a look.
On both sides of the creek concrete bridge abutments have been built on bored concrete piles approximately 10 metres into the ground. The bridge is essentially supported by a single tower being constructed on the Beavers Rd side, with steel cables to suspend and support the deck. (This is due to the presence of the high voltage power lines on the western side.) The tower is 28 metres high and over three metres wide, requiring it to be delivered in three sections, to be welded and painted on site. The decking, cables and handrails will follow soon after and concrete shared paths will be constructed on both sides once the heavy construction equipment has left site.
This project will benefit kids going to school, cyclists, and people just going for a stroll along the creek paths! It’s a great example of co-operation between community activists – especially Brunswick East Primary School Parents – Moreland and Darebin Councils. Bridge fans can join the Merri Creek Bridge Facebook Group for updates.
Responding to COVID in Brunswick
Follow-up to our Brunswick Stay-At-Home survey
Our highly successful survey analyzing and extensively quoting your thoughts on the lock-down, was highlighted briefly on ABC radio and in more depth on 3CR radio’s Tuesday Hometime (podcast to come).
We were invited to present our report in a Zoom meeting with new Moreland CEO Cathy Henderson. We highlighted the support for quiet streets, for making walking and riding easier, and support for our parks and open spaces. We also noted the support and concern for the survival of local businesses.
Ideas for post-COVID transport recovery
As part of the national response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Government has announced a Local Road and Community Infrastructure Program, with proposed grants of $1.8 billion.
Given the failure to fully allocate bushfire pledges and the targeted, illegal allocation of Sportsrorts money to Coalition and marginal seats, don’t hold your breath waiting for rivers of gold to flow to Moreland! There is an opportunity, however, for people to advance positive ideas for infrastructure investment for walking and cycling – especially as there will likely be a significant downturn in public transport capacity, due to physical distance requirements.
COVID-19 has seen sales quadruple at bicycle stores, and from November 2019 to April 2020 there was a 192% increase in bike traffic on the Merri Creek Trail and a 221% increase on the Capital City Trail. Bike riding has always been an affordable travel mode, but without high quality infrastructure many potential riders are excluded. As the post-COVID recovery progresses, new bicycle riders will revert to former habits unless cities provide high quality facilities that keep them safe.
The City of Melbourne is showing the way, with 40km of bike routes rushed into construction in response to the COVID-19 impact on public transport. The Bicycle Network report ‘Pedalling to a better normal’ details a funding plan to rapidly increase the amount and safety of cycling. There are many examples of overseas municipalities developing rapid systems to improve infrastructure. Our own Council should follow this lead.
Moreland Council staff are preparing a report to go to the July Council meeting, looking at possible quick term investments. Here’s a few ideas for discussion in Brunswick:
- Given Council’s commitment to introducing trials of 30kph speed limits in residential streets, the East Brunswick precinct is a suitable area for such a trial. We would encourage council to introduce a 30kph trial for residential streets (not arterial roads) in an area bounded by Lygon and Nicholson Streets, and Brunswick Road and Blyth Street.
- How about working with the State Government to sort out the long-running debate over transport changes in Sydney Road?
- Fund a schools’ initiative similar to Darebin Council’s Octopus program (each year, local schools can compete for major funding to improve safety and accessibility for children to get to school – funding everything from bike sheds, better signage, walking bus programs, school crossings etc).
- Moreland Council could develop further plans for traffic management in the wider area around Fleming Park, to protect pedestrians, cyclists, children and the elderly accessing Fleming Park. This should include a shared roadway alongside the park in both Albert Street and Victoria Street, slowing traffic to a crawl to improve safety for people walking or cycling to use the park facilities.
- The joint budget submission from BRN, Walk on Moreland, Be Safe Streets and Pedestrian Safety for Nicholson Street Coburg (see story below) contains a range of suggestions for improving pedestrian infrastructure.
Please send BRN other ideas for opportunities to improve community infrastructure, such as repurposing car parking to support safe pedestrian or cyclist movements; locations for trials of 30km/h speed limits on local roads (in line with the Moreland Integrated Transport Strategy); or pedestrian and cycling improvements that could be delivered in the short term. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pedalling to a better normal: A six-month plan to stimulate the economy, create jobs, save lives and get Australians moving, Bicycle Network, 24 May 2020
- Making safe space for cycling in 10 days, Mobycon
- Local councils to get $1.8 billion to spend on infrastructure, The Age, 22 May 2020
- Four ways our streets can rescue restaurants, bars and cafes after coronavirus, The Conversation, 31 May 2020
- Bianca Hall: Hundreds of car parking spaces to go as city embraces cycling, The Age, 14 June 2020
- Melbourne fast tracks 40km of bike lanes, Bike Network, 15 June 2020
Pool opens, but no gym yet
Brunswick Baths’ indoor and outdoor pools are now open to members only, with 20 person limits per pool. Hours are 6am – 10am and 4pm – 8pm Monday to Friday, 8am – 6pm Saturday. Closed Sundays and holidays.
Prebook and pay for 45-minute sessions online, or by calling 9381 1840 (visits are pay-as-you-go while memberships remain suspended). No change rooms; no gym; no classes, until rules relax.
For more COVID updates, go to: What Council is doing to support you during COVID-19
Forum: Discuss your post-COVID hopes with your local MP
Peter Khalil, Member for Wills in the Federal Parliament, is holding an online community meeting to discuss what life after COVID-19 should and could look like. He asks:
“The crisis has been devastating and it has impacted each and every person in our community. We also have a unique opportunity to ask – where to next? . . .”
(Local) Travel section
Women on bikes
Faith Hunter of Moreland BUG is researching the history of women and cycling in Australia, and has already uncovered a treasure trove of information. (Did you know that the Australian women’s suffragette movement was closely tied to the women who pioneered long distance cycling in Australia?)
Faith is currently working on a book about Melbourne’s champion ‘lady cyclists’ of the 1890s – anyone with family stories or photos can contact her through the website A Wider World.
Moreland BUG newsletter
The Moreland Bicycle Users Group (Moreland BUG) is now producing a monthly newsletter
and they’re hoping to get as many people signed up as possible:
Sydney Road survey report released under FOI
Only 10% of those driving to shop in Sydney Road, always park on Sydney Road, a suppressed VicRoads survey shows.
In July 2019 Vicroads held community information sessions and conducted an online survey, to present five options for improvement of Sydney Road to the community. A massive 7,040 people responded. Results were then weighted to reflect percentages of people who drive, walk or ride along Sydney Road.
These options were developed in response to the high incidence of traffic accidents on Sydney Road. There is no simple solution for Sydney Road, whose road and narrow footpath spaces are heavily used by trams, motor traffic, bike-riders, and pedestrians; plus vendors’ junk, cafe tables and (peak hour clearway times excepted) car-parking.
By far the most popular option was “Option 3” which widens footpaths, creates a separate bike lane, and has trams and cars sharing the centre lane, with car parking removed – 52% rated this option as “good” or “very good”. No other option came anywhere near this approval rating: next in line was Option 4, removing some all-day car parking, with a wider bike lane during peak hours, was rated “good” or “very good” by 31%. (You could rate all options from 1 to 5.)
Although Vicroads offered to send the 7040 respondents a copy of the “Community Feedback Report”, the responsible Victorian Government minister put the whole project on ice until local level crossing removals were complete; and blocked the release of the report, presumably because it gave the wrong answer!
Particularly of interest, given the dogged campaign by traders to retain all on-street parking in Sydney Road, was that only 10% of people driving to Sydney Road, always park on that Sydney Road. Almost half those surveyed (48%) always park on local roads or off-street car parks.
Thanks to Nik Dow who used Freedom of Information (FOI) to extract the survey results.
Culture Corner: books, art, but no papers
Counihan Gallery – Moreland Summer show applications open.
Each year the Counihan Gallery (at the Brunswick Town Hall) hosts the Moreland Summer Show, which is open to all artists who live, work, study or base their studio practice in the Moreland municipality. This year’s theme is Solitude & Solace. The exhibition opens on 7 November. There are prizes!
Write a footy story
Moreland Libraries invite you to write or recite a story in either 500 words or 5 minutes in length or less, in response to ‘Marngrook Football’, an artwork by Aunty Marlene Gilson that is from the Moreland Art Collection. The work depicts Indigenous football being played adjacent to an Australian rules game. You can see the painting, and get information about the competition and prizes, on the Council website.
Farewell Moreland Leader
The Moreland Leader has closed. In recent years, delivery of the paper version became increasingly erratic although it was available in digital form. (Our 2015 communications survey showed only one in three households were receiving it regularly). Digital subscribers have received an invitation to read local news online, but a Herald-Sun subscription is required to get past the clickbait headlines to read a few northern suburbs crime stories.
Despite its limitations, the Leader provided a free source of community information and a way to advertise local events and debate local issues. In particular, journalists in the past regularly attended and reported on Council meetings, providing an important avenue of information and accountability. Although owned by Murdoch’s News Corp, it appeared that Rupert was not interested in micro-managing these outer reaches of the empire, as shown recently for example by regular updates on the effects of climate change.
Moreland Council took out a full-page advertisement in the Leader for weekly Council updates. The demise of the paper will force Council to address the need for an active communications strategy that reaches all residents. This is a challenging task given the geographical, cultural and linguistic diversity of our city, let alone residents’ varying needs and interests. It’s also starting from a low base. The Council has a mediocre website where information can often be unearthed by a determined search. You can get some useful information by following Council’s Facebook page; with the Twitter account mostly responding to resident complaints. The new Conversations Moreland page is a good start, but it ignores controversial planning issues.
However there is little active reaching-out to residents, and going on an e-list doesn’t mean you are updated on services (for example, although the Brunswick pool has re-opened, there’s been no email to members since the closure was announced on 30 March). Thanks however to the library for emailing this information:
Brunswick library re-opens
Good news for all the book junkies out there. The three larger Moreland City Library branches – the Glenroy, Brunswick and Coburg Libraries – reopened on Tuesday 2 June.
- There are still strict hygiene and physical distancing rules, with a limit of 20 visitors in the library at one time (ideally, limit family visits to one person from the household, although children will require a supervisory adult).
- When you visit a library, you will be asked for your name and library card or phone number, and given hand sanitiser.
- Libraries will be open from 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday, but they ask you to check as hours may change.
- Due dates for your borrowed books have been automatically extended to 30 June 2020.
- The libraries have introduced a Call, Click and Collect service. You can now reserve items. The library will call you and arrange a time for a contactless collection.
- The existing ‘Books to Your Door’ home delivery service will be maintained.
- Study spaces will continue to be closed and newspapers will be unavailable.
- Books will continue to be quarantined for a recommended period after return, so when you return items, they may be lingering on your card for up to a week. You won’t be fined.
Please note our email address: email@example.com. And write to tell us what you think of the newsletter. We love feedback.
If you are able to offer some time to volunteer to help organise our campaigns, and support our work, please get in contact. Our work includes organising meetings, leafleting and letter boxing, graphic design and publicity, and research; on planning, greening Brunswick and traffic management.
[Wondering why this email comes to you from firstname.lastname@example.org? Our Mailchimp email service doesn’t like a gmail sender’s address, so we use a member’s address. Add this address your contacts so our emails don’t get filed as spam, but don’t write to it)
Moreland Council stuff
All Council meetings – held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month – are normally held at: Council Chamber, Moreland Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg. 2020 dates are:
- Wednesday 8 July 2020
- Wednesday 12 August 2020
- Wednesday 9 September 2020
- Wednesday 14 October 2020
Meeting details are posted at the Council website.
Council meetings can be watched online, either live, or later – you can find details here along with the agenda for the next Council meeting when it’s posted on the Friday before the monthly meeting.
There is no public question time because of COVID-19 rules, but you can submit a written question through a link on the website page above.
MAILING LIST AND FURTHER INFORMATION
Welcome to new readers! To contact organisers of the Brunswick Residents’ Network, or to offer help with future activities, please email email@example.com. (This gmail is our preferred address, rather than replying to this email).
Please forward this e-letter to other Moreland neighbours who’d like a say in the way their community is changing. It’s easy to sign on, or edit your details to include your interests – just go to http://eepurl.com/VX4a9.
For meeting details, survey and newsletter archives, go to: https://brunswickresidents.wordpress.com
Check out our Facebook page for a range of lively discussions: Brunswick Residents Network. Help us reach more people by liking our page, commenting, forwarding this newsletter, and tweeting it using the links below.