Monday, April 26, 2010

Anzac reflection

I ENJOYED our local Anzac Day observance yesterday, even while the rain was falling at the end of the service. Once again we had the involvement of many young people, proudly wearing the medals of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. But for the first time, I really looked at the ranks of our veterans and noticed their declining numbers. It really hit home when a son of the late Alf Clark stepped forward to lay a wreath at the foot of our cenotaph. Alf and his great mate (and distant relative of mine) Sappy Bester were Rats of Tobruk and I once had the privilege of interviewing them about their wartime experiences. Sappy passed away several years ago and we lost Alf last year. I missed them yesterday. Lest We Forget.

History under threat

IT was indeed a disappointment to me when I failed to sway several of my colleagues from their support for the demolition of the very old house on the corner of Burnett and George Sts in New Norfolk. It was equally disappointing that more than an hour's discussion at this month's council meeting ended in stalemate and the technical approval of the demolition. Here's what I had to say at the meeting:

"I oppose this recommendation. Too much of our history has been demolished already. With reference to this application, we are not even provided with the reason the owner wishes to demolish the house.

"This report does provide us with some food for thought - in particular the urgent need to review the properties included in Schedule 4 of our planning scheme. But we should also bear in mind that a property's historical significance is not determined by council policy. This needs fuller investigation.

"The planner's report notes that buildings to the west of this house were built between 1880 and 2005, but it seems to have missed a number of Georgian cottages built in the 1840s. We should also remember that the 2005 property was built only after the unfortunate demolition of another Georgian cottage. Burnett St, George St and Blair St is a heritage streetscape area and we must preserve what is left."