Ordinary Council Meeting – 26 February 2019

Another packed Council meeting – but sadly one that ended with what I consider to be an ongoing issue with the culture at Cottesloe, singling-out one Councillor with targetted restrictions that seem undemocratic, when other solutions do exist. I spoke of my strong concerns about this cultural and democratic issue at the meeting, despite some confusion on the last minute motion about it.

Other key resolutions passed (agenda documents are here) include:

  • Stirling Hwy realignment “re-zonings” that allow higher densities along this key transport route. Future re-zoning is now possible in adjacent areas, and it was excellent to see residents presenting the Town with well researched and presented arguments for this, and which I am hopeful Council can act on in future, per proper process. For now though, these realignment zonings will go out for public comment.
  • Eric St Shopping Centre’s plans for more ‘medical rooms’ will go out to public comment as well – a crucial step to assess its potential impact.
  • There won’t be a by-election to fill Cr Boulter’s East Ward spot. So now “East Ward” all falls to me to manage until October (eek!) – and Council is much more likely to encounter tied “4-4” voting outcomes. I called on the Mayor to adopt a ‘protocol’ or ‘convention’ under which he will exercise his casting vote in such situations (eg to preserve the status quo) and give Council some certainty over this interim period.
  • A new Local Law banning fishing with wire traces (to effectively target shark-fishing at Cottesloe Groyne) will go out to public comment. I am hopeful the fishing community who feel this may impact their proper fishing will respond with their own suggestions and ideas on how we’re all able to manage this very real problem that has proven very difficult to manage (Note: I quoted local MC Mathas’ song “Enforce Less” to emphasise it is always open to legislators to do more than simply “ban things”, the lyrics are here (Language Warning!).
  • We finally have an updated Street Trees Policy to guide plantings of more canopy (which I’m hopeful will also lead to more useful shade for residents walking or cycling around our often very hot suburb), and give more certainty on tree removals in a range of circumstances. The new policy should appear here soon – but was sadly over-ridden by Council the very same night, by approving tree removals that would not have been allowed under the new Policy. I struggle to understand a logic that adopts a Policy and then immediately overrides it.
  • Residents of Grant St “East” were denied 2-hour weekday only parking limits to help manage the problem of parking overloads in their short and narrow street, despite areas such as John St having such limits. It was concerning to me that Councillors cited “it will move the problem elsewhere” as a reason to do nothing about a clearly affected area. My view is we can act and iterate – and refine a solution if it leads to other problems. Iteration is a common approach to problem-solving adopted by everyone from fun tech hack-a-thons to bigger business.
  • Art Advisory Panel’s new “Public Art Strategy” was adopted, just in time for the Panel to look at fresh acquisitions from Sculpture By The Sea 2019, which opens Friday 1 March. I am actively involved in AAP, and am already very excited at the possibility of new Public Art in Cott.
  • The Art Advisory Panel’s proposal for a ground-surface artwork over the (unpopular) new black asphalt at Cottesloe Main Beach was given a go-ahead, so we are already looking at how we can approach what is able (in my view) to provide a unique addition to the foreshore area.
  • Project plans for a new, safer carpark at North Cott Primary were also endorsed by Council, with the next step being a new concept plan to go out for comment. I’ll post more about that once that “NCPS” sub-committee next meets.

So, whilst much good progress was made by Council, I remain concerned at some key aspects of how Council is operating – both inconsistency in decision-makingĀ (both at the same meeting and comparable to its other recent decisions) and the worrying attempts to silence a particular Councillor by applying tighter restrictions (a methodology, in my view, Council has been using for some time), where the restrictions themselves may in fact be undemocratic.

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