Response from Daniel Barbar (Labor)

November 12, 2014

Daniel was the close second respondent to our questions.  His reply follows here in full and unedited:

Thank you for your questions. I understand the strong views on all sides of these discussions and I respect the different perspectives that everyone brought to the decision-making process at the time.

Although I was not on Council at the time of these discussions and the decision regarding Arlington Reserve, I understand this was a significant decision that was not taken lightly. Some of the questions you have asked are highly specific and I do not know if I can give you an informed opinion without the full information that was available to the Councillors at the time the decision was made.

Council has an important role in the community to provide facilities and services to local residents and users of council facilities.

As mentioned, this includes school students as well – in fact, I was a frequent user of Arlington Reserve when I was a student at Christian Brothers Lewisham, for sport and for play. Arlington was the local park that we would play sport in, and I remember the injuries I would sustain as a kid, because of the uneven and sub-standard playing surface.

I think Council has to work in consultation with local residents and community groups, clubs and schools in order to decide the best use of our facilities. Consultation is an important part of this process, and I know that not everyone may agree with the decisions made, but that does not mean that you discount their views and suggestions because they do not agree with you.

Planning for our community needs to be appropriate and sustainable, and development needs to be situated close to transport hubs. Affordable housing, well-planned urban renewal and environmentally sustainable development are strong Labor principles and I support them wholeheartedly.

So far, the biggest development issue raised with me by local residents in West Ward – Burraga has been the provision of appropriate parking within any new development. I understand these concerns and if elected, will work to ensure we do not clog local streets when considering these proposals.

I also recently I signed the Community Charter for Good Planning in NSW and I endorse the principles of the charter. Many of these principles relate to the matters you have raised, including:

  • The well-being of the whole community, the environment and future generations across regional, rural and urban NSW.
  • Effective and genuine public participation in strategic planning and development decisions.
  • An open, accessible, transparent and accountable, corruption-free planning system.
  • The integration of land use planning with the provision of infrastructure and the conservation of our natural, built and cultural environment.
  • Objective, evidence-based assessment of strategic planning and development proposals.

With regard to your final questions, all elected representatives should be accountable to their local communities. I understand that contact details are publicly available for all Councillors on the Council’s website (as they should be). Social media is both an innovative and challenging medium to communicate with constituents. I do not see an issue with communicating on new mediums – I guess it should be a matter of what is the most appropriate avenue for what is being raised.

Further, I understand that there are differing views in the community about many matters. You may not agree with my opinions, and I may not agree with yours, but as long as we can have a respectful conversation that is the most effective way of ensuring that any final decisions made will be for the benefit of our local communities.

I love the Marrickville area – it’s the place where I was born and where I have lived my whole life – and I think that working together is the way that we can make it even better.

Regards

Daniel Barbar

Labor Candidate, West Ward – Burraga

Response from Justine Langford (Greens)

November 12, 2014

Justine was the first candidate to respond with answers to our questions.  Here is her reply in full & unedited:

1. The Greens believe that the decision making process around the
artificial-turfing of Arlington Reserve was extremely poor. Council
decisions should never be made in this way. The Greens on council
worked actively with residents to highlight the extremely poor way
this project was approved and to expose its true cost. We repeatedly
raised the risk of the massive cost blow-out of the project – which of
course occurred. There should have been a more thorough investigation
of the costs before the council voted. The escalating costs will
result in the oval having to be used more often which will further
impinge on the amenity of local residents.

2. The Greens support prioritising residents and not-for-profit
sporting clubs when using local fields. With the Arlington project we
were extremely concerned that the Council risked effectively
privatising the site by making a multi-million dollar update for the
primary benefit of for-profit (professional) sporting clubs. Whenever
a development proposal of sporting space occurs it is important that
all affected members of the local community are consulted regardless
of their financial clout and network of influence. When a development
of a sporting field in a densely populated area is proposed it is
critical that a thorough examination of the competing needs of all
local residents occurs and that proper environmental and social impact
studies are completed and there should be clear caveats that any
negative impacts be addressed. I believe that if elected as a Greens
councillor I have a responsibility to ensure that council activities
have positive impacts on the environment.

3. The Greens support sustainable infill development. This means
development near public transport, for example, but {within reasonable
limits} (that does not exceed the Local Environment Plan). It also
means that infrastructure needs to keep pace with development and
developers need to be charged proper fees to fund things like extra
green space needed to serve larger populations. For example The Greens
on council voted against the current LEP (Local Environment Plan)
because of concerns that the new height limits on buildings were too
high and that heritage worthy buildings were not protected. Since
these new height limits were allowed the Greens on Council have
struggled to ensure that even these height limits (are maintained) and
the often inadequate rules in the LEP are complied with. Unfortunately
the Labor and Liberal candidates on the current council are in my
view, uncritically pro-development. The Arlington Reserve is an
example of a development that exceeded a number of important
restrictions in the LEP.

4. The environmental impact of any proposed development needs to be
seriously considered by Council. The Greens believe that green space
and public amenity needs to be prioritised. Clearly the negative
environmental impacts of laying artificial turf on Arlington Reserve
were not prioritised by the non-Green Councillors when they supported
this proposal.

5. I do not believe it is appropriate for a group of councillors to
vote together in a block, especially when what they are voting on
contravenes their own party policy. I also note that binding caucus
voting is not allowed by the Local Government Act, and strongly
support that provision of the Act.

6. Councillors are elected to represent the community – so they must
be available to residents through various communication channels. I
believe councillors should be accessible via email, phone and social
media. Councillors should make judgements based on the information
provided, including Council policy and recommendations, resident views
and representations – not just on their party affiliation.

7. The Greens councillors all have Facebook accounts and their emails
and phone numbers are publicly available. Unfortunately councillors
are not very well resourced and nearly all have full time jobs outside
of Council. Councillors receive vast numbers of resident requests and
do not have access to paid staff, so some don’t reply to all
residents. If elected I would make myself available to residents and
would aim to respond to any contact within 24 hours.

8. The primary role of Councillors is to represent all residents. Any
correspondence with residents should be party-neutral. Councillors
have a responsibility to respond equally and fairly to all residents,
no matter who they voted for in the local election. If elected I would
liaise with local residents and keep them informed of any issues. The
process and decision-making that we saw around Arlington Reserve
should never again be repeated.

4 Candidates, 8 Questions, only 2 Replied. You decide.

November 12, 2014

Due to the untimely death of Councillor Emanuel Tsardoulias, this Saturday 15th all West Ward residents are required to vote in a by-election to elect a new candidate to the vacated Council seat.  Although Arlington Recreation Reserve has now been artificially turfed and the issue now largely a historical one, the “experience” left several lingering questions in the minds of both organisers & local residents alike, including the 1500+ people who signed our petition in 2012-2013, and the several dozen who gave written submissions in response to Council’s report on options for Arlington.

In short, the events that transpired during our efforts left significant questions about governance, the rational selection of a site suitable for conversion vs the “emotions” of the home teams involved, Council finance policy in the obvious face of project budget uncertainty, community consultation, and what priority, if any, is given to the environmental considerations in any project presented to Council.
The Candidates:
So we came up with a few questions and sent them to all 4 candidates running for this seat.  Those candidates are:
Daniel Barbar (Labor)
Jim Salem (Australia First Party)
George Andrade (Liberal)
Justine Langford (Greens)
(this is the order selected by the Aust. Electoral Commission, as they will be on your printed voting slips on Saturday)

Only 2 of those candidates have responded – Justine Langford (Greens) and Daniel Barbar (Labor) – and their replies will be posted in the next couple of posts to this blog.  We urge you to read them carefully, as we think they provide a decent insight into the mindset of these 2 candidates.

In short, one candidate answered the questions as we presented them, and one did not.  We will leave you to evaluate for yourself the reasoning given by the candidate who did not, and whether there was a reasonable expectation that they could have engaged in the non-issue-specific nature of most of the questions as we posed them.

As for George Andrade (Liberal), we have gone to significant lengths to obtain contact details for him, but he has not made himself contactable, nor replied to two emails (one containing the questions) we believe would have been received by him.  It is unfortunate that Mr Andrade, despite what is likely to be a strong allegiance to the soccer fraternity, decided not to address the broader issues that go far beyond the ‘seed’ Arlington issue. (And in case you’re wondering, Question 8 came about due to the behaviour of Councillor Rosana Tyler (also Liberal).)

And Jim Saleam (Australia First Party), well, we’ll leave you to google him yourself.  Mr Saleam also chose not to reply to any of our questions.

Here’s the 8 questions sent to all 4 candidates.  In following posts will be their replies.

1- Council’s proposal to artificially turf Arlington Reserve, as voted, placed the project cost estimate at $950k.  The Save Arlington Reserve group vociferously drew Council’s attention to a wide range of cost items that hadn’t been itemised, or even mentioned, that risked the project’s budget “blowing out” during its construction period.  Council proceeded regardless (but as always on this issue in 2012-2013, only by virtue of the Mayor’s casting vote resolving an otherwise evenly split Council).  Unfortunately this is indeed what happened – $2.3M, and counting.  Do you think this is an acceptable manner for Council to make decisions on expensive infrastructure projects?
2- What is your prioritisation of the needs of sporting clubs (whose members may or may not be local LGA residents), and the needs of local residents, when it comes to (re)development?  Or when it comes to cost of access/use?  What of local schools, some of them desperately needing green space for a variety of activities, but being unable to afford it?
3- In areas that are already “medium density” or higher, where nearby parks are already serving a higher density of population than other less dense areas, &/or in areas not well served by associated infrastructure (like parking & easy traffic flow) do you think it’s appropriate to approve (re)development projects that place even further pressure on these resources, or indeed effectively remove access to them by the broader community, in preference to higher paying consumers?
4- In Marrickville Council’s report to Council in early 2013, it itemised 16 criteria for environmental impact consideration of the Arlington proposal.  The artificial turf option had worse environmental impact in 14 of those 16 criterial (compared to retaining natural turf), and yet Council voted to proceed with the artificial turfing proposal with absolutely no response or plan to address these impacts.  How highly do you priorities the environmental impact of Council’s decisions & activities?
5- Do you think it is appropriate for a group of Councillors consisting of more than one party affiliation to vote together in order to block the motions of a third Party, even when the motion may indeed be within the stated party policies of one or the other blocking party?  Do you think this constitutes anti-democratic behaviour?
6- Do you think all candidates for public office in Marrickville Council should make themselves available to their potential constituents via published phone &/or email contact details &/or a social media presence that foresters public communication with the community, or do you think it’s reasonable that constituents make their determination based solely on the candidate’s party or political affiliation?
7- Once elected, do you think it is reasonable for constituents to be able to access their elected representatives via social media, such as Facebook?
8- When a community member wishes to engage with an elected Councillor on any given topic, even privately, do you think it’s reasonable for that Councillor to ask who that community member voted for, and then decline contact/communication because the community member did not vote for that Councillor?

—————–  END  —————–

West Ward By-election

November 10, 2014

West Ward By-Election is being held on Saturday 15th November

When casting your vote remember Council’s Liberal / Labor alliance to lay artificial turf on Arlington Reserve.

The cost has blown out to over $2 million and they still need to buy machinery to maintain the surface.

Prior to the last council election Clr Tsardoulias published a flyer saying he would not support artificial turf on Arlington Reserve if elected. At the first meeting of the new council he then voted with the rest of the Labor councillors to lay artificial turf on Arlington Reserve.

Promises broken:

  • Insufficient parking – Parking has always been an issue and council has done nothing to address this. With the opening of the light rail parking spaces have actually been removed!
  • Increased team usage – Summer competitions and trials for Sydney Olympic FC are being held. This means that the field can be hired, by those who can afford it, 7 days a week and evenings. Could this mean an evening mid week competition during the summer months?
  • Community usage decreased – Local schools and other community groups cannot afford the fees to use the field.

Let’s not be fooled again!

Ask the candidates where they stand on the usage of the field and the effect that has on the local community.

yous all get ready for synfetic turf

June 19, 2013

Last Tuesday 11th June saw one of the most depressing Council meetings in recent Marrickville Council history, not just because our effort to remove allocation of $950 000 from Council’s 2013-2014 draft budget for artificial turf for Arlington Reserve was defeated, but also for the shameless display of mindless rhetoric and juvenile bullying any of us have ever witnessed from “elected leaders”, as well as the promise of “no increase in usage” finally revealed for the deception it always was.

Artificial turf on ArlingtonRecreation Reserve IS now a ‘done deal’, other than formalities over which citizens have little or no input.

After 3 public speakers ‘for’ and ‘against’ presented their cases, Greens Councillor Melissa Brooks proposed an amendment, seconded by Mark Gardiner (Lib), to have the $950k budget allocation redirected to childcare.  What ensued was one of the most disgusting debates in Council’s recent history.  I could say so much more, but…

Councillor Gardiner questioned Mayor Macri about the promise of “no increase in usage”.  For the first time in the 8 months this issue has been back on Council’s agenda, the Mayor ‘clarified’ that the Arlington Plan Of Management allows matches to be played up to 5:30pm on weekdays, and non-competition use (eg. training and try-outs) up to the 9:30pm lights-out curfew on weekdays, as well as the continued use on weekends from 9:30am to 9:30pm for matches.  This is the reality of intensification of use that we have been “screaming about” for months now, but which certain Councillors – Marci and Tsardoulias – have tried to reassure residents that “usage won’t increase”.  Crapmongers.

However it was all theatre – the vote was clearly known by half the Councillors to be unchanged since February 2013.  Council remains divided 6-for, 6-against, and the Mayor, Victor Macri, once again using his Casting Vote to defeat Councillor Brook’s amendment.  A majority of the Council then voted for the 2013-2014 Budget ‘as is’.  And just to rub salt into ‘wounds’, Councillor Tsardoulias in one last pointless burst of juvenile bloviation yelled out at the four Greens Councillors calling them “The No Party”, for having taken a principled stand in not voting for the draft budget.  Just charming.

What would have been amusing, if it wasn’t so depressing, was that the presentation of so many facts and considerations as to why artificial turf in this location is so inappropriate – by citizen speakers, and Councillors alike – was so convincing, that when the final vote to defeat Clr Brooks’ amendment and voting in the unmodified draft budget happened, several of our soccer friends didn’t even realise they’d ‘won’.

The Save Arlington Reserve action group is taking a breather, and considering its options.  Until then, borrowing a few choice words from one of our ‘favourite’ Councillors, “yous” all get ready for “synfetic” turf.

48 hours ’till Council votes on the 2013-2014 Draft Budget

June 9, 2013

In 48 hours, Marrickville Council assembles to discuss and vote on the 2013-2014 Draft Budgets.

Marrickville Council

Level 3

2-14 Fisher Street

Petersham

Council meeting starts at 6:30 PM.

We will be there.   Will you?  We’d love to have your support!

BTW, so will DHFC’s Under-16 & Under-18 teams, for whom training has been cancelled & instead directed to attend the Council meeting.  Seems Joe Pinto thinks taking up all the seats of the public gallery in the Council Chamber with teenagers will have a tangible impact on the democratic process.  lol  on ya, Joe…

In the news – again. and again. and again.

June 7, 2013

The 3rd article down demonstrates the degree of duplicity, smoke-screening and bullshit that’s being used to justify Joe Pinto’s Trophy Project.

“Financially Irresponsible” – Inner City Weekender, 31/5:

Media-27-5to7-6 ICW-31-5-13 Financially Irresponsible

“Financially Irresponsible”

“No childcare, turf instead” – Valley Times, 6/6:

Media-27-5to7-6 ValleyTimes-6-6-13 No childcare, turf instead

No childcare, turf instead

“Council’s Challenging Choice” – Inner City Weekender, 7/6:

Council's Challenging Choice

Council’s Challenging Choice

In response to the question of why Marrickville Council is about to spend $1M+ on artificial turf NOW, and at the expense of letting a desperately needed childcare centre languish unconstructed for another year, Mayor Victor Macri wants to cast our mind back to the past, where a former set of Marrickville Councillors voted to build Enmore Pool instead of a childcare centre.  As if to draw attention to his own contradiction, he said “I opposed [Enmore Pool]. I will always oppose anything that goes against childcare centres”.  Does that include allocating $1M+ to Joe Pinto’s Trophy Project at the expense of a childcare centre TODAY, Vic?  Hmmm…

As for Councillor Sam Iskander, “Every time the Council agrees and has a majority vote on something, the Greens devise a tactic to combat the decision.  The Arlington Oval returfing we agreed on”.  What a gobsmacking LOAD OF BULLSHIT.  The ONLY time Marrickville Council was almost-but-not-quite unanimous regarding Arlington (thanks for your consistency there, Mayor Macri) was in 2009 when it voted 10-to-1 to RETAIN natural turf.  Ever since machinations behind closed doors brought the issue back onto Council’s agenda in October 2012, Council has been ANYTHING BUT in agreeance on Arlington Reserve – IN FACT IT’S BEEN CONSISTENTLY DIVIDED 6-FOR, 6-AGAINST since December 2012.  But hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of a good bit of political bloviating, Sam…

Democracy in action

June 7, 2013

In spite of the elements last Monday 27/5, seven members of the Save Arlington Reserve action group handed over 685 paper submission letters to Marrickville Council.  Also in attendance were Councillors Mark Gardiner (Liberal) and Melissa Brooks (Greens), and an apology from Morris Hanna (Independent) who wasn’t able to attend.

We are very grateful to Alice Kennedy for her photographic record of the event.  Here’s a select few photos.

SAR members are greeted on the steps of Marrckville Council by Councillors Brooks and Gardiner

SAR members are greeted on the steps of Marrckville Council by Councillors Brooks and Gardiner

685 budget submission letters are symbolically accepted by Councillors Brooks & Gardiner.

SAR member Sharyn Moses officially presents 685 budget submission letters to Council staff

SAR member Sharyn Moses officially presents 685 budget submission letters to Council staff

 

 

 

 

The final count-down…

June 6, 2013

Last Monday 27th, seven members of the Save Arlington Reserve Action Group handed over 685 paper submission letters to Marrickville Council.  Also in attendance were Councillors Mark Gardiner (Liberal) and Melissa Brooks (Greens), and an apology from Morris Hanna (Independent) who wasn’t able to attend.

According to figures published today in Marrickville Council’s business papers for the next Council meeting (THIS TUESDAY NIGHT, Tuesday 11th, 6:30 pm!), a total of 750 submissions rejecting artificial turf on Arlington Reserve have been received by the 27/5 closing date.

Of the approximately 70 unique ‘non form-letter’ submissions made regarding Council’s 2013/14 budget, all but 5 were regarding Arlington, and all but 5 of those were against artificial turf.

This is in stark contrast to the pro-artificial turf lobby who submitted 123 petitions and only 12% of them residing in the Marrickville LGA, and 5 ‘unique’ submissions.

At the April 2013 General Council meeting, the normally calm, rational, and mild mannered Councillor Emanuel Tsardoulias flew into an inconsolable, incoherent, spitting rage at the motion by Councillor Melissa Brooks to have the Arlington resurfacing item struck off the budget, asserting that she represented ‘a few noisy residents’ (not an exact quote, but close enough, as for reasons that defy obvious understanding and democracy, citizens are not allowed to record the proceedings of the public meetings of their elected representatives).

There’s a few important and fundamental points to get right here:

  • Councillor Mark Gardiner (Liberal), a representative of a different ward, has taken a principled stand against the artificial turf proposal “just because it’s wrong!” (and that is a quote), as has Councillor Morris Hanna (Independent), alongside four Greens Councillors.
  • Councillor Melissa Brooks (Greens), who also represents West Ward residents alongside Councillor Tsardoulias (and Councillor Tyler), is a democratically elected member of Marrickville Council, and does not deserve such disrespect from Councillor Tsardoulias.
  • The members of the Save Arlington Reserve Action Group are decidedly non-political.  We wish the issue were not politicised, but when Marrickville Labor keeps back-flipping on this issue (once in 2009 from a pro-artificial to anti-artificial stance, then back to a pro-artificial stance in 2012, & remain resolutely uncommunicative on the issue besides the bullshit arguments we’ve already debunked in previous posts), you know there’s something political going on – as quite distinct from “getting the basics right”.
  • 1503 people, mostly Marrickville LGA residents, signed a petition in December 2012 saying No to artificial turf on Arlington.
  • 685 people, 82% of them Marrickville LGA residents, PUT THEIR SIGNATURE TO A BUDGET SUBMISSION LETTER – NOT JUST A LINE ON A PETITION saying No to the allocations of funds for artificial turf on Arlington.
  • 60 people wrote their own letter to Council making the same objection in their own words.

Thank you Councillor Tsardoulias, but “we” are not a ‘noisy few residents’, as we’ve demonstrated in black and white. Again.

We can’t wait to see what bullshit arguments certain Councillors put up next week to ‘justify’ their continued stance of allocating $1M+ to Joe Pinto’s Trophy Project, at the expense of childcare (2000 children in Marrickville & Dulwich Hill on waiting lists), or the stalled new library, or the replacement of ten toilet blocks on other green spaces that will be knocked down next year but not replaced.

 

PRESS RELEASE: Residents & Rate-payers raise alarm over Council’s draft budget

June 6, 2013

SYDNEY, 26 MAY 2013: Marrickville Council’s Draft Budget for 2013-2014 has met with strong opposition from both residents and rate-payers. On Monday 27 May, residents will submit more than 500 individual and signed objections to Council regarding the Draft Budget, collected from residents & rate-payers around the LGA. More objections have been submitted on-line and individually lodged with Council.

Objections relate to Council’s plans to spend more than $1 million on artificial turf at Arlington Reserve, Dulwich Hill. Council’s costings for the project are based on preliminary findings, and are expected to be much higher than the amount budgeted for.

“Council’s proposal to spend more than $1 million on artificial turf at Arlington Reserve is an inappropriate overdevelopment of a local park and sporting oval. It is too expensive and financially irresponsible,” says local resident Sandra Sullivan. “Council will not be able to generate a sufficiently high income to cover the costs of laying and maintaining artificial turf.  So the true cost, both financial and social, will be borne by residents & rate-payers for many years to come.”

Residents’ & rate-payers’ objections are echoed by six of Marrickville’s 12 Councillors: Liberal Councillor Mark Gardiner, Independent Councillor Morris Hanna, and four Greens Councillors, Melissa Brooks, Sylvie Ellsmore, David Leary and Max Phillips.

Residents will be handing submissions to Councillors Mark Gardiner, Melissa Brooks and Morris Hanna at 12.30pm on Monday 27 May. Other Councillors may be present. This will take place at Council’s Administrative Centre, 2-14 Fisher Street, Petersham. The media is invited and residents will be available for interview.

 

Save Arlington Reserve Group

The Save Arlington Reserve Group is a non-political group formed in 2009 by residents of Dulwich Hill, NSW. Our mission is to preserve the amenity of Arlington Reserve and to ensure this park of historical value remains accessible to all the community. Arlington Reserve has hosted many sporting events over the years including rugby league and the British Empire Games in 1938 (now known as the Commonwealth Games).

 


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