LAST week’s council meeting saw motions on footpath trading, dogs off leash and smoking policy passed, deceased community members recognised and Peter Kostos take part in his first general meeting since returning.
Image: A preview of The Warragul Citizen’s ‘Dress Me’ Gerard councillor fashion kit, created in celebration of Cr Murphy’s new modelling career. See the All dressed up… section below for the story and details on how you can send Cr Murphy your fashion tips.
Here’s a full summary of what happened:
Going through the motions
In-depth reports on a number of these issues will be published in the coming week.
DOGS ON LEASH? DOGS ON LEASH
Councillors gave in principle approval for and put to community consultation local law changes that will require dogs be kept on leashes in areas not designated as off-leash.
Stemming from a meeting in September 2011, the decision to implement the reforms was deferred in April 2012 amid community concern over proposed off-leash areas.
FOOTPATH TRADING CHANGES
Shopkeepers will be required to keep a 1.8 metre space directly in front of their shops clear if councillors pass a planned amendment put to public consultation at Wednesday’s meeting.
Existing infrastructure that does not meet the guideline, which was set in accordance with the National Disability Strategy, will not be made to comply with the new policy.
ROADSIDE TRADER PERMIT FEE HIKE
Councillors approved in principle a massive jump in roadside vendor permit fees in a bid to stop businesses from outside Baw Baw coming and undercutting local businesses.
If passed in its present form the move will see the yearly permit fee rise from $65 to $3,000 and a new $100 application fee introduced.
Warragul ward councillor Gerard Murphy said the permit cost was like charging rates and would only affect businesses using council land.
“If you’re going to come and trade here it’s like paying your rates in this town,” Cr Murphy said.
The proposal is open to public submissions.
SMOKE FREE ZONES EXTENSION
Councillors voted to reaffirm Baw Baw’s commitment to keep its smoke free areas policy trial going until the Victorian Government decides on an amendment to the Tobacco Act 1987.
The council will write a letter regarding the motion to the Victorian Minister for Health and the Municipal Association of Victoria.
NILMA WEATHER SITE
North ward councillor David Balfour said the Nilma Hall Committee had accepted a proposal for a “weather site” at their facility.
Mayor Murray Cook said the move will “hopefully put us on the map” and will help prove infrastructure damage caused by bad weather.
PROCUREMENT POLICY REVIEW
Councillors accepted changes to the Baw Baw Procurement Policy as part of the policy’s 2012-13 review.
Key issues included tender thresholds, grants funded procurement and the applicability of renewable resources criteria in purchasing council fleet vehicles.
One change to the policy was a requirement for additional detail on the impact of grants funding and third party funding on the running of the procurement process.
COMMUNITY SATISFACTION SURVEY 2013
The survey showed there had been a small improvement in community service ratings in the last year, while perceptions of overall performance, community consultation and advocacy dropped.
FLOOD EMERGENCY PLAN
Councillors endorsed the Baw Baw Flood Emergency Plan, which was developed by the council with the oversight of the State Emergency Service.
The list of motions above does not cover everything that happened at the meeting – it is a selection of what the author considers the most important motions were.
Cr Cook gets on his horse and buggy
Mayor and Mount Worth ward councillor Murray Cook suggested Baw Baw lobby the state government for the Gippsland rail line to be converted from broad gauge to standard gauge.
Cr Cook said he was told at a meeting of Gippsland councils (presumably the Gippsland Local Government Network) the conversion was “supposed to be happening around the country” and Victoria retaining broad gauge was why Gippsland was “so far behind”.
“There is an upgrade from single track between here and Melbourne planned – while the upgrade [takes place] we should push for an upgrade [of] gauge,” Cr Cook said.
“Or have one track one gauge and the other the other.”
Cr Cook said research and development of fast trains was being conducted on standard gauge stock, meaning the difference between the gauges was “horse and buggy stuff.”
Victoria’s trains are locked to a single gauge like most trains around the world so having different tracks configured for different gauges would be ineffective.
Recent large-scale upgrades to the state’s rail network also mean it’s unlikely Victoria would change gauges any time soon.
Recently deceased community members Colin Peter “Muddy” Marshall and former Baw Baw CEO David Alexander Powell were recognised by councillors.
Cr Balfour said Mr Marshall, known for his work in the Neerim South district, “was a long-serving and passionate member of the Neerim Sourth recreation reserve” and would be missed.
Councillors voted to make a donation to the Salvation Army Child Sponsorship Program in the memory of Mr Powell, who was a member of the group.
The council will write a letter to Mr Powell’s family acknowledging his contribution to Baw Baw.
Questions on notice
Irene Broadbent of Darnum asked:
> why Baw Baw’s new rubbish trucks carry New South Wales registration plates. The council’s response was the trucks were made in that state and were registered there for testing – when renewal comes up they will move to Victorian places.
> why BBSC staff receive fruit boxes, massages and take part in fitness activities and how much that costs ratepayers. The response said the council’s health and wellbeing program has a budget of $8,800 per anum and had “long term benefits” in staff absenteeism and retention. The response said the program saved the council $130,000 in WorkSafe premiums to date since the 2010/11 financial year.
> what benefits staff will be offered “to offset the fringe benefits being cancelled by the federal government.” The response said the changes to the scheme were only proposed and as such no other benefits were planned.
> why the council’s website had out of date documents available. The response said outdated content was sometimes “overlooked”.
A 122-signature petition from the Lifestyle Warragul Homeowners Association asked that an unbroken white line be marked on Warragul-Lardner road from its King Street entrance to 200 metres west of the community’s entrance.
Two other petitions were also responded to. More detail to come in future articles.
All dressed up…
The decision of a small number of councillors to reject the formal attire usually worn by Baw Baw’s representatives has been one of occasional comment by councillors and council watchers.
Warragul ward councillor Gerard Murphy is one of those but at Wednesday’s meeting was spotted in a long sleeve shirt and, uncharacteristically, not in shorts.
Cr Murphy insisted on a photograph to mark the occasion. You can enjoy it below:
(Yes, the author is aware jeans are not formal wear.)
If you have a suggestion for what Cr Murphy should wear to next week’s meeting let him know – send him a letter* or email him with your suggestion. The Warragul Citizen has created the “‘Dress Me’ Gerard” fashion kit to make that easier – just click here to download a printable PDF of cut-and-paste Murphy fashion (1.5mb).
*Address: Cr Gerard Murphy, C/- Baw Baw Shire Council, Civic Place, Warragul, Victoria 3820
Wednesday’s was the first general meeting for 2013 to feature newly returned Mount Worth ward councillor Peter Kostos. Cr Kostos also attended a special council meeting last Wednesday.
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