Petition to be lodged for Pittwater to demerge

by Robbie Patterson, Manly Daily

A RENEWED push to reinstate the boundaries of Pittwater council has begun, with disgruntled residents hosting a public meeting tomorrow night.

The group, called Protect Pittwater, has raised $13,000 to launch a legal battle against the State Government claiming the residents were involuntarily merged with Warringah and Manly councils.

Group president Bob Grace will outline the latest plans at the meeting, at Pittwater RSL from 7pm-9pm.

“It is just a community forum to bring the people up to date on what is happening and the future direction of Protect Pittwater, and our strategy to get Pittwater back,” Mr Grace said. “Protect Pittwater is all for writing to the government for a public review of the Northern Beaches Council especially the finances and reduced services.”

Mr Grace, a former Pittwater councillor, said he would take a proposal to the State Government on May 15 to de-amalgamate.

“Northern Beaches Council is a joke,” Mr Grace said. “They promised no rate increases and improved services. What we now have is a rate increase and reduced services. We want Pittwater back.”

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 2.29.21 PM.pngNorthern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan defended his council’s track record, and a recent rate increase of 2.3 per cent, saying it kept the council in line with inflation.

“We have significant renewal of assets underway that simply wouldn’t have occurred without amalgamation,” he said. “They got a $91 rate cut from the waste collection which will offset the 30-odd dollars they would pay from the 2.3 per cent.”

He pointed to the opening of Church Point carpark yesterday as one example of improved infrastructure.

“Significant savings are being made and the debts of former Pittwater and Manly are being paid off and we are seeing unprecedented investment in infrastructure north of Narrabeen Bridge,” Cr Regan said.

“We opened up Church Point carpark, it was a 37-year project — it even preceded Pittwater it went from former Warringah, then Pittwater. The Northern Beaches Council signed off on it.”

Pittwater MP Rob Stokes said the merger needed to be given more time.

“Like a lot of people in my community, my preference was not for a single council,” he said. “Nevertheless that is where we have ended up, the right thing to do is give it a chance.

“It is democratically-elected and able to do projects Pittwater never had the capacity to do. At the least it would be worthwhile to get those projects delivered.”

Greens spokesman for Local Government David Shoebridge will be among speakers tomorrow.

“The mood of the community remains very solid behind getting the council back and there are clear legislative paths to help them do that,” he said.

“I have been extremely impressed by the organising among locals to get hundreds and hundreds of signatures… that is the kind of community action that should deliver results.”

He said Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton was “obliged to review this application, not just politically but also as a matter of law”.

“I would hope it gets rapidly referred to the boundaries commission and a positive recommendation comes to reinstate a muchloved, financially robust and competent council,” he said.

A spokesman for Ms Upton said significant community consultation was undertaken and “a clear majority of public submissions supported the creation of a single council”.

“The Government has no plans for any further changes to the boundaries.

“However, we note that under the Local Government Act, residents are able to lodge boundary change proposals with the Minister.”

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Council faces inquiry call as developers sue for $78m over contract ‘fiasco’

From the SMH, 26 Feb 2018

It was supposed to revitalise Manly with a new village centre as well as provide 500 parking spaces to relieve congestion in the seaside suburb.

The project consisted of a contract to build a car park under Manly Oval, and another contract to redevelop the Whistler Street car park site into a library with outdoor rooftop gardens, a cinema and community spaces.

But the contentious plan was cancelled by the administrator of the new Northern Beaches Council on the basis that it was financially risky, leaving the council to face a legal claim for $78 million.

Independent councillor Vincent De Luca has called for an investigation into the project, which was approved by the former Manly Council at a closed meeting in April 2016.

Dick Persson, the Administrator of the Northern Beaches Council – formed by the merger of Manly, Warringah and Pittwater councils – cancelled contracts signed with developers in August 2016.

Mr Persson’s decision was prompted by reports into the bungled redevelopments that questioned the council’s decision-making process and the financial viability of the projects.

“When I cancelled the contracts, I made it clear that the quality of work was a problem and I felt the general manager had let the council down,” Mr Persson said in 2017.

“People can draw their own conclusions about the respective responsibility of councillors.”

Cr De Luca will move a motion at a meeting of the council on Tuesday proposing an investigation into the handling of contracts relating to the two developments, which he labelled a “fiasco”.

“In order to ensure transparency, financial accountability and good governance, I believe the only way forward is for council to institute an independent investigation,” he said.

The motion calls for an investigation into whether the administrator or staff of the former Manly Council and Northern Beaches Council have breached the law, policies, guidelines or best practice approaches.

Cr De Luca’s motion notes that Manly Council spent more than $500,000 on developing the project.

“The cost of cancelling the car park project contract with Abergeldie was $580,000 plus an initial contractual payment of $200,000,” the motion said.

“Significant ratepayers’ funds have also now been extended on legal advices and representation.”

However, the developers of the library complex, Built Development Group and Athas Holdings, initiated legal action against the council last year for $39 million in compensatory damages.

“This has increased substantially since proceedings were commenced, and council now faces a claim of $78 million” Cr De Luca’s motion said.

Read more: https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/council-faces-inquiry-call-as-developers-sue-for-78m-over-contract-fiasco-20180223-p4z1ia.html

PROTECT WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT PITTWATER

Pittwater is a unique part of the world, and in this merged mega-council we need our three elected Councillors to be truly independent and accountable to our local area and residents. We need to elect people on 9 September who will protect and advance what we love about living in Pittwater.

We all should think carefully about WHO will do the best job for our community.

Will the candidate we’re voting for:

  • vote independently on all issues
  • be a ratepayer or resident of Pittwater
  • understand and support Pittwater’s unique character
  • be committed to working hard for all the Pittwater community
  • support the eventual restoration of Pittwater Council on its pre-amalgamation boundaries.
  • consider matters on their merits, not on political or party grounds
  • not be beholden to or funded by developer or lobby group interests
  • not be locked into block voting regimes
  • support the provision of separate planning laws within the individual wards?

    For a list of candidates: https://candidates.elections.nsw.gov.au/

    BEFORE CASTING A VOTE IN THE UPCOMING COUNCIL ELECTIONS, PLEASE CONSIDER ATTENDING OUR INFORMATION SESSIONS WITH CANDIDATES:

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Councils lose development control

 

From Government News Website. By on August 10, 2017

Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAP) are now mandatory for all councils in Greater Sydney and Wollongong after the Bill passed the NSW Parliament.

The NSW Government introduced the Environmental Planning and Assessment and Electoral Legislation Bill, it says, as a safeguard against corruption.

The Bill only passed in its amended version, which means that property developers and real estate agents will not be able to sit on the panels.

Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts welcomed the passing of the legislation in the Legislative Assembly after a late-night sitting in the Upper House passed the Bill.

“This is a fantastic outcome for ratepayers as IHAP bring transparency, integrity and a high degree of probity to the development application (DA) assessment process.

“These panels, which will consider applications valued at between $5 million and $30 million as well as a range of high-risk development types, will give communities and ratepayers greater certainty about planning decisions.

“Most importantly, local councils will be able to focus on preparing the strategic plans and development controls that will identify the range and location of development types for their local area.”

The Bill sets a standard model for IHAP, comprising three independent expert members and a community member.

  • The community member, to be selected by the council, will represent the geographical area within the LGA of the proposed development, to provide local perspective.
  • IHAP members, who will be chosen by councils from a pool managed by the Department of Planning and Environment, will have to be expert in one or more of the following fields: planning, architecture, heritage, the environment, urban design, economics, traffic and transport, law, engineering, tourism, or government and public administration.
  • The chairperson must also have expertise in law or government and public administration.
  • The panel members themselves will be subject to statutory rules such as a compulsory code of conduct and operational procedures for the panels.

Local councils will still process most applications for individual houses or alterations to existing houses.

Existing independent hearing and assessment panels will continue to operate after the upcoming council elections on 9 September.

At least developers have been excluded: Labor

The NSW Labor Opposition says it has secured vital amendments to the new law, ensuring developers and real estate agents are unable to sit on new planning panels that will determine major development proposals.

Labor’s amendments, which it says were unanimously agreed to by the government and the crossbench, ensure that developers, real estate agents, and serving councillors cannot sit on any local planning panel. Decisions will also be made publicly available.

They also guarantee that members of the local planning panels will be scrutinised by ICAC, much like MPs and councillors are.

Labor has been calling for developers and real estate agents to be banned altogether from sitting on councils.

Shadow Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Michael Daley said:

“It begs the question: if the Government is happy to admit that developers should not sit on local planning panels, why should they be allowed on councils?

“Labor calls on the Government to immediately rectify this issue – before September’s council elections.”

The Council is not happy…

Liverpool City Council has expressed its frustration at the decision by the NSW Planning Minister to strip Sydney and Wollongong councils of powers to determine developments over $5 million.

“This is a naked power grab by the NSW Government – taking the decision-making authority to shape how our communities grow and develop away from elected representatives,” Liverpool Mayor Wendy Waller said.

Mayor Waller said Liverpool was one of the first of 15 councils in the Sydney basin to establish an IHAP. Council has used this independent expert advice to improve decision-making on major planning proposals for 20 years.

“We have long understood the importance of independent assessment when it comes to planning, but Council always had the option to bring matters of significant public interest back into the hands of elected representatives,” Mayor Waller said.

“We had the checks and balances in place and they were working well.

“The only thing this power grab by the State Government achieves is that it takes decisions further away from the community at the very time when Liverpool is growing fast and residents need to have a stake in this rapid expansion.

… but developers are

The announcement by the NSW Government that independent planning panels will determine all development applications with a value of between more than $5 million but less than $30 million in value in Sydney and Wollongong will streamline planning in metropolitan Sydney, said the developers’ union the Urban Taskforce.

“The announcement that all local councils in Sydney and Wollongong must establish independent planning panels will make the planning process much more efficient,” said Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson “The role of the elected councillors is in setting the strategic planning framework and the assessment of compliance with the framework is best undertaken by experts in the field.”

“The Urban Taskforce agrees with the Minister that mandating the Independent Planning and Assessment Panels (IHAP) will ensure a level playing field for everyone. Having a central pool of experts will also ensure effective use of resources and that all panel members have up to date knowledge of the planning rules.”

“The quality of panel members will be important to ensure they are assessing against the rules rather than becoming arbitrators trying to balance community concerns with the viability of the applicant’s proposal. Panel members must be supportive of growth that complies with the strategic plans approved by council or the state government. Having one member of the 4-person panel from the local area ensures an understanding of local issues.”

Northern Beaches Narrabeen Ward: Councillor Candidates

For more information on your local Council Candidates: https://candidates.elections.nsw.gov.au/

Candidate Ballot Name Locality Party Affiliation or Independent Phone Email
HEINS Sue DAVIDSON Your Northern Beaches Independent Team 0423379934 sue@inspiringwomen.org.au
FISHER Rohan BEACON HILL Your Northern Beaches Independent Team 0424609879 rohandfisher@hotmail.com
NICHOLSON Matt NORTH NARRABEEN Your Northern Beaches Independent Team matt.nicholson@yournb.com.au
DE LUCA Vincent NORTH CURL CURL Independent 0431473500 vincentdeluca@bigpond.com
BIASI Tony COLLAROY Independent 0431473500
COOK Tammy CROMER Independent 0431473500
WARD Pam ELANORA HEIGHTS Labor
WARD John ELANORA HEIGHTS Labor
SOTHERAN-CAMPBELL Sean ELANORA HEIGHTS Labor
AMON Rory NARRABEEN Liberal rory@roryamon.com.au
McGAHEY Vicky CROMER Liberal
STRONACH Neil NARRABEEN Liberal
HARRIS Conny BELROSE Independent 0432643295 conny.harris@gmail.com
BALDWIN Stephen ELANORA HEIGHTS Independent 0428994277 probiscus0@gmail.com
WALSH Jayden WARRIEWOOD Independent 0412088754
 Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 2.57.49 PM

Northern Beaches Pittwater Ward – Council Candidates

For more information on your local Council Candidates: https://candidates.elections.nsw.gov.au/

Candidate Ballot Name Locality Party Affiliation or Independent Phone Email
TILLEY Hamish NEWPORT Labor
BUTT Barbara NEWPORT Labor
PEARSE Richard BAYVIEW Labor
BOSLEY Peter AVALON BEACH Independent
STONE Jenny MONA VALE Independent
LETTOOF John AVALON BEACH Independent
WHITE Ian SCOTLAND ISLAND Your Northern Beaches Independent Team 0400600958 ian.white@yournb.com.au
SCHROEDER Katinga TERREY HILLS Your Northern Beaches Independent Team katingaschroeder@hotmail.com
GYE Bill SCOTLAND ISLAND Your Northern Beaches Independent Team 0438698058 billgye@gmail.com
KORZY Miranda CLAREVILLE The Greens 0416192602 pittwater@nsw.greens.org.au
WAWN Pru AVALON BEACH The Greens pittwater@nsw.greens.org.au
McINTOSH Andrew MONA VALE The Greens pittwater@nsw.greens.org.au
GRIFFITH Selena ELANORA HEIGHTS Independent 0481000369 selenagriffith@gmail.com
DALY Suzanne NEWPORT Independent 0419695095
MIDDLETON Peter NEWPORT Independent peter@midboyd.com
RACKHAM Marcia MONA VALE Independent 0299977226 marack@bigpond.com
MORGAN Lorrie NEWPORT Independent lorriemay@bigpond.com
FERGUSON Kylie NEWPORT Liberal kylieaferguson@hotmail.com
COHEN Dale MONA VALE Liberal dale@dale-cohen.com
PORTER Allan AVALON BEACH Liberal allanporter@bigpond.com
HOPTON Robert AVALON BEACH Independent 0412328887 rhopton@iinet.net.au
BLACKIE Tony MANLY VALE Independent 0411743142 tony.blackie@bmcd.com.au
HOPTON Christine AVALON BEACH Independent 0410596196 chopton@iinet.net.au
McTAGGART Alex AVALON BEACH Independent 0411779585 alexmctaggart@optusnet.com.au
STEWART Joss MONA VALE Independent stewj@gmail.com
MAKIN Margaret CHURCH POINT Independent

Map of the area

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PREMIER BACKS DOWN ON MERGERS

Yesterday Premier Gladys Berejiklian walked away from her government’s policy on forced Council mergers, abandoning plans to merge Councils in litigation against her government on this vexed issue. Last February, the NSW Government walked away from regional council mergers, saying that municipalities challenging the policy in court would no longer be forced to merge.

Unfortunately, she still has not taken the final step to bury this undemocratic policy by demerging Councils forced to merge against the will of their ratepayers.

This means that Pittwater and many other areas of the state similarly affected will fight on until the policy is completely dismantled.

It is only due to a failure in Pittwater Council (before its forced termination) to follow through on a motion to seek legal advice with a view to joining in that litigation that sees Pittwater residents in their current dire state.

The Premier said, “Perhaps up to two years ago when we entered into this process, with the benefit of hindsight we should have done things differently. Perhaps we should have listened earlier on in the process.”

Or at all.

The Premier’s comment applies to Pittwater as well as many other communities, whose strong objections to merging with other councils have in many cases been ignored by the NSW government.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley MP called for the Premier to complete the demolition of this failed policy by allowing plebiscites in all LGAs affected by forced amalgamations. These plebiscites must be held in the former council areas to be fair.

Pittwater Forever, its community group members, and many others are determined to carry forward the fight until we have achieved a demerger from Northern Beaches Council, as 89% of residents originally indicated as their preference.