editors letterBass Coast Shire Council (BCSC) has once again failed to bite the bullet and do something about ending the current Special Charge Scheme (SCS) fiasco and is continuing with its grab for $135 million for its shire roads plans – with nothing in the bank.
Sunset Strip ratepayers are the next bunnies in line to fork out somewhere around $20,000 a property with minimum input from the council and the other so-called stakeholders: VicRoads and Melbourne Water.
Council voted last week to push on with concept plans for a Sunset Strip road and drainage project based in part on its belief they need a SCS project to attract some funding from VicRoads and Melbourne Water.
Why these two entities cannot provide funding for their obvious responsibilities around the estate based on general council lobbying seems ridiculous.
The recent council meeting saw some councillors concerned about the strong feelings from ratepayers in Sunset Strip who were prepared to respond to its two questionnaires.
We were interested to see the Anderson ward councillor Bradley Drew appeared so determined to have the Sunset Strip project continue even to the point that other councillors said they were persuaded by him to reconsider their vote at last week’s meeting.
Cr Phil Wright was one of these people and he ended up declaring he didn’t care about Sunset Strip as it wasn’t his ward.
His ward abuts Sunset Strip and interestingly Bradley Drew’s ward isn’t even on Phillip Island.
Cr Wright also indicated the Sunset Strip project was needed for the wider community.
This seems at loggerheads with the council mantra that property owners have to pay because it is to their benefit… curious.
While the Mayor Cr Kimberley Brown, Sunset Strip’s McHaffie ward representative, who has not met with the Sunset Strip Road Watch Collective (SSRWC) members, appeared to have a sympathetic leaning towards the obvious community antagonism created by this unwanted SCS, she also seemed to be swayed to vote for the motion.
The Deputy Mayor, Cr Jordan Crugnale, however, has the vision to see the people don’t want it.
We hope she will support alternative projects such as the very successful primer seal road surface program and the upgrading of long-overdue drainage issues that have always been council’s responsibility.
There seems to be a concern among some councillors that if the Sunset Strip project in its present form collapses then the domino effect will come into play and the other 17 areas on the SCS hit list will rebel because $135 million is a lot to suck out of these communities, over and above the ever-increasing rates.
Overdue changes to the SCS at a legislative level need to be looked at by the Local Government Minister, Natalie Hutchins, and comparisons in its implementation need to be made with other municipalities in the state.
Also, the no-response-equals-support vote must be outlawed.
Remember, with more people responding to the second questionnaire, the percentage of those against the SCS has gone up from 71 to 76 per cent.
When will common sense prevail?
SSRWC has reviewed the minutes of last week’s council meeting and found them to be completely inadequate.
They are supposed to be a notation of what was said in the debate but as they appear on the website, they are no more than a rehash of the bureaucratic recommendations on the agenda without even details of how each councillor voted.
Minutes posted by the Mary Whelan road working group last December also failed dismally, not even listing the names of the panel members.
Is this a rewriting of history in its early stages? Reading the minutes of these two groups, you would not think there was a dissenting voice within cooee.
So if you are not at the meeting you will never know what happened because it is not officially recorded.
Sunset Strip Road Watch Collective, Sunset Strip.