Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas closure details

THE Derwent Valley Council office and depot will be closed from noon this Wednesday, December 24, until 8.30am on January 5, 2015.
  • Garbage and Recycling Collection will operate as normal.
  • The National Park Waste Transfer Station will operate as normal.
  • The Peppermint Hill landfill site will close at 11.30am on December 24 and will be closed on Christmas Day. The site will reopen on Boxing Day.
  • New Norfolk and Bushy Park swimming pools will be closed on Christmas Day.
  • The Valley Children’s Centre will be closed from December 24 and will reopen on January 5.
The council’s emergency telephone number is 6261 8500 (24 hours).
  • For police, fire and ambulance emergencies call 000.
  • For non-emergency police matters call 131 444.
  • TasWater, phone 136 992
  • Aurora Energy, phone 132 004

Latest council newsletter

THE latest issue of the Derwent Valley Council newsletter (Spring 2014) is available for downloading from the council website here.

Latest advertisement - December

BELOW is my latest councillor update, published in the Derwent Valley Gazette on December 10, 2014.

Click image to enlarge.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bronte House

Bronte House mid-restoration this year.
TONIGHT'S council meeting gave in-principle support to a proposal to lease to the Derwent Valley Community House part of the building known as Bronte House at Willow Court. It was not an easy decision. One councillor voted against the move and I can understand why. But the decision was not a knee-jerk reaction as one person remarked when leaving the meeting. Neither is it a fait accompli. The parties involved still need to negotiate a lease agreement and that document will have to come back to the council for approval in the new year.

It needs to be said that the Community House is not being forced to relocate from its current premises just along the Avenue and still within Willow Court. Neither will the move result in the "loss" of Bronte House as some have stated. The Community House has been looking for new premises for several years and despite being offered accommodation at Carinya Education Park (my preferred option) the board of the Community House has consistently expressed its desire to remain in the general area of Willow Court and in particular reasonably close to its community garden.

The council has been involved in discussions with the Department of Health and Human Services (the principal funder of community houses) for some months and in September the department made a formal offer of funds for infrastructure and capital works associated with moving the Community House into Bronte House, subject to the council offering a long-term lease.

A special meeting of council was held in early October to discuss the various options for the use of part of Bronte House and I raised a number of concerns including the apparent abandonment of the original concept of Bronte House being the visitor services hub at Willow Court. That meeting was attended by a number of members of the Community House board of management and after considerable discussion with them, the council resolved to seek architectural drawings and costings for two designs; one providing for spaces that could be shared by the Community House and the Willow Court visitor services (toilets, kitchen etc) and the other having no shared spaces.
The proposal was considered by the Willow Court Conservation Special Committee at its meeting in November. The committee noted the positive aspects, including the significant investment of additional funds to complete the refurbishment of the building as originally planned. But it also noted the need for some public space, including display space within Bronte, in order to provide basic services and information to general visitors to the precinct. In the end the committee formed the view that those requirements should be able to be accommodated in conjunction with the use of Bronte House by the Community House.

Work inside Bronte remains incomplete.
And so the proposal came back to the council meeting held tonight. Several members of the public expressed their opposition to the plan and I understand their reasons. Unfortunately the funds available for Willow Court are all but exhausted. Much work remains to be done and there is no further funding on the horizon. While considerable work has been done in Bronte House to prepare it for the provision of visitor services, large parts remain unusable and proposals for a commercial kitchen have been shelved due to lack of funds.

The only money presently on offer for any part of the council-owned section of Willow Court is that from the Department of Health and Human Services for the purpose of hosting the Community House in Bronte House. With that in mind I put the following motion to the meeting:
  1. That council give in-principle support to the use of part of the Bronte Building for a community house pending successful negotiation of a lease agreement to be approved at a future council meeting.
  2. That the necessary structural alterations be at no cost to the council.
  3. That the area of the lease be based on the plan labelled Option 3, without the visitor kitchen installation and subtracting the area described as "reception".
  4. That a front entrance ramp be provided along the front of the building for entry to the community house and that a retractable concertina-style wall be installed across the dining room.
  5. That two accessible toilets be installed in the council visitor services area rather than a single accessible toilet and two standard toilets.
This motion was seconded by Cr Barry Lathey and when put to the vote it was endorsed by all councillors but one. Before the council decision becomes a reality, a suitable lease will need to be negotiated and then approved by another council meeting. Everyone with an interest in this matter - for or against - will have another opportunity to be heard at that time.

Co-locating the Community House in Bronte House is going to mean some changes to the arrangements for visitor services at Willow Court, but those arrangements had changed already through the decisions of the Conservation Committee. Despite my misgivings about the proposal, moving the Community House into Bronte does not mean it is a building lost. It is a building saved. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Workshops, AGM and monthly meeting

Council Meeting, AGM and Workshops for December 2014

Council Workshops will be held at the Courthouse, Circle St, New Norfolk, at 6.30pm on Thursday, 4 December 4, 2014 and Thursday, December 11, 2014.
The new format for council workshops is an open session which the general public is invited to attend for the first half-hour. The remainder of the workshop is closed to the public. This is an informal workshop of council and no agenda is provided.

The Derwent Valley Council's Annual General Meeting will be held at 5pm on Monday, December 15, 2014, in the Courthouse, Circle St, New Norfolk. The items to be discussed at the AGM are:
  •  The 2013/2014 Annual Report.
  •  Responses to submissions received on the Annual Report.
Matters relating to the Annual Report will be open for discussion at the meeting and members of the public are invited to attend. Written submissions on any matter contained within the Annual Report are invited and should be received by Friday, December 12, 2014. Copies of the Annual Report are available from the Council Office, Circle St, New Norfolk from Thursday, December 4.
An ordinary meeting of council will be held at the Courthouse, Circle St, New Norfolk, at 6.30pm on Monday, December 15. The public is invited to attend and the agenda will be available at the Council Office, Circle S, New Norfolk, from Tuesday, December 9.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Motions on notice

THE agenda for the first meeting of the newly-elected council included a few Motions on Notice from me. There was a good discussion around most of them and I thank my council colleagues both for their comments and their unanimous support.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Lathey
That a list of all land and buildings owned by the council be provided to all councillors.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Graham
That the council's land sale committee be requested to review potential asset sales to fund ongoing works at the Willow Court historic site.

The background to those first two motions is that the available funds for Willow Court are practically exhausted and no further State Government support is on offer. The previous council informally discussed the sale of surplus land as a way to fund urgent works at the historic site. This has been expanded to include a review of all council-owned land and buildings. When the Land Sale Committee meets, it should be open to the public.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Shaw
That the General Manager investigate and report on loss of grant funding for a footpath at Westerway.

Background:  In 2013 the council secured grant funding of approximately $100,000 to build a footpath at Westerway. More than a year later there is still no footpath and councillors were recently advised that the funding had been withdrawn by the State Government. The general manager's report should determine how the money was lost and what procedures have been developed to ensure no further grant funds are lost.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Pearce
That the General Manager investigate and report on the Glebe Road reconstruction carried out last year.

Background: Major works were carried out on Glebe Rd between Lachlan Rd and Poulters Rd last year. For reasons not explained to councillors, the centre line was repainted way off centre, forcing west-bound traffic onto the extreme edge of the road. This has resulted in extensive edge breaking, which is ongoing. The general manager's report should determine why this happened and who is responsible for rectification works.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Graham
That the council continue its recent practice of holding councillor workshops on the first, second and fourth Thursdays of each month.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Shaw
That these workshops be advertised and open to the public for the first 30 minutes.
Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Triffett
That a councillor social function be held when a month has a fifth Thursday.

By way of background to the above three motions, in recent months the council has held councillor workshops on a weekly basis and this resulted in an improved flow of information. Continuing the practice will benefit the incoming council. Organising a regular social function was a stated aim of the last two councils but no action was taken to bring it about. During discussion I was asked about the cost burden of advertising and my comment was that no additional advertisements should be necessary as each month's meetings and workshops should be able to listed in a single advertisement.

Moved: Cr Bester
Seconded: Cr Belcher
That the Council Planner be invited to conduct a briefing for the new council, covering the Development Application process and the new planning scheme.

Background: Planning matters are often the most complicated and controversial items dealt with by
councillors. A briefing from the planner would be most worthwhile.

Minister's statement on amalgamations

29 November 2014

Peter Gutwein, Minister for Planning and Local Government

Next Step in Voluntary Council Amalgamations

The Liberal Government has begun formal discussions with councils about voluntary amalgamations.
This week, I wrote to all 29 mayors to invite them along with their Deputy Mayors and General Managers to regional meetings early next year to discuss voluntary amalgamations.
We know from informal discussions that there is an appetite for structural reform in Local Government to deliver improved services to communities.
With the elections concluded, now is the time to take the initiative and consider how we can improve councils' strategic capacity, financial sustainability and service delivery.
There's no doubt potential amalgamations are a big step and we need to take a careful and considered approach to developing options.
The next step in this process is bringing all councils together on a regional basis to discuss amalgamation opportunities in early February.
These meetings will allow the Government to outline the proposed process and discuss timeframes. We recognise councils would need to conduct feasibility studies and these meetings will allow us to discuss how the government can support the process.
As we've previously said, there are some very clear principles that must be met before we would consider an amalgamation proposal. Amalgamations must:
  • be in the interest of rate payers;
  • improve the level of services for communities;
  • preserve and maintain local representation; and
  • ensure that the financial status of the entities is strengthened.
We want to work with Local Government to make Tasmania the place to live, work and invest. A conversation about voluntary amalgamations and resource sharing is a good starting point.

(published without alteration)