Ordinary Council Meeting – 22 September 2020

Consultation (albeit limited) on the new Dutch Inn Playground, street tree species changes, next steps for ‘North Cott Primary Car Park’, and further moves toward securing Sculpture by the Sea for Cottesloe.

New Dutch Inn Playground

Following 2019’s ‘Public Open Space Strategy‘, a new expanded playground at Dutch Inn was given first priority, with the design now out for feedback, which will only be sought from immediately adjacent residents on Marine Parade – but not the kite-surfing community (who use the area and who are likely to have views on it, including the impacts of the construction phase), nor the intended users (parents and their children), nor those up Princes St. However, the Administration has made it clear that feedback from others outside of the formal consultation area will still be considered as part of the feedback.

I raised the concern that since 2019’s POS Strategy, in which only a ‘broad brush’ concept for Dutch Inn playground was presented, its design, and all the decisions going into it, have been made by a community Working Group, without any Council involvement. This seems to be a high degree of delegated authority by a community body, whose meetings are not recorded in minutes, and are not public nor formally overseen by Council. Combined with the limited consultation above, there is the real question to be asked: is this an appropriate, transparent and accountable process?

I did also raise the question, as to whether anyone had considered how the three-masted sailing ship design may be read by the community – particularly when the POS Strategy described it as having a “surf or kite theme”. I am not saying it will be read in a certain way, but I do think that Council must turn its mind to these issues at the very least. In my view, Council, as a community representative body, should consider the impact of its decisions on all community members, not just a majority. This is particularly the case if Council is going to “outsource” its decisions to a non-elected Working Group and not consult widely on that group’s decisions.

Street Tree Species Changes

I’ve reported before on this issue, and Council tonight had a long list of more requests for Street Tree Species changes. Recently, Council heard from an invited arborist that the species recommended for each street in Cottesloe was not incapable of change to other suitable or appropriate species, and that diversity of species is possibly better. It was also noted that other councils have a range of species for each street. It has always seemed to me that an inflexible approach to street tree species is likely to be counterproductive, if residents’ reasonable, logical and practical requests for changes in specific circumstances are simply refused. For example, does it encourage residents to retain private trees on residential blocks? I was very pleased many requests for different species were supported by Council.

North Cott Primary “Kiss & Drop”

Following a Committee Meeting earlier in September, North Cottesloe Primary’s Board and P&C had raised concerns about the detailed design of the new Kiss & Drop. The Committee resolved to seek the advice of Main Roads (and Dept of Education) on plans for the Eric Street Bridge upgrade, and the impact of this on the current design of the new Kiss & Drop. The emphasis is on safety concerns, however the overall traffic congestion issue is what affects the wider community and residents broadly (particularly in East Ward, which I represent). Main Roads’ response will be brought back to the Committee (and then Council) in due course. I am hopeful that traffic congestion will not be sidelined as part of any further work on this project.

Sculpture by the Sea

Following the issues faced by “SxS” in staging this year’s event in March, negotiations have been continuing on its future in Cottesloe. It has been concerning to me that the process of identifying the issues for negotiation appears to be being done by a handful of Councillors, outside of the usual meeting process. However, amendments were made to Council’s resolution tonight that mean these negotiation points will be first raised with Council’s legal adviser, then returned to Council to formally assess, and negotiations with SxS will then occur. The final agreed terms will also be returned to Council for final approval. This could be good for arts in Cottesloe.

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