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SSC Newspaper : September 2012
Labor says it wiLL taLk to “forgotten” residents It’s Saturday morning in Homebush West and the residents of Courallie Avenue are keen to talk about the problems of development down their street On one side are a number of well-kept single-storey family homes; on the other, unit blocks of various sizes. In the distance, you can see a huge crane above a construction site. And behind the houses, someone has opened a brick reclamation factory. Life in Courallie Avenue, like so many areas of Strathfield, has changed a lot in the last two decades. But what has brought a small group of residents out on the street is what they feel is a split in Strathfield. They claim there are two Strathfields: one for those like the protestors against the Australian Catholic University development – which hit the headlines and has been raging for months – and another for these residents’ issues, which rarely rate a paragraph. Labor team leader Raj Datta has gathered his team of seven and even brought along a Shadow Minister – State Labor’s local government spokesperson Sophie Cotsis. Perhaps surprisingly, none of the residents are anti-development. But they do feel duped. When rezoning allowed one side of the street to be turned into apartment blocks, they claim they were told they would be “looked after” and helped to sell if they needed to move. But resident Nella Cacaldi says nothing happened.The biggest complaint is the lack of infrastructure to support the growing community. At issue: transport and parking. Cacaldi tells the story of the day her husband came back from hospital where his mother had died. There were two-hour parking restrictions and he was booked outside his own house. “I rang a councillor and he said he would come out,” Cacaldi says. “But I never saw him. The council said they would look into it; but nothing happened. “However, things have been changed and the regulations have been relaxed now.” Cacaldi says her number one issue is safety: “ This used to be a lovely little area. But now the traffic and the people...” Datta maintains parking rules were imposed without consultation. “This is only one street. Since March, I have been to every corner of Strathfield and it is the same.” The problem for Courallie Avenue is traffic to the markets. There are speed humps, but the number of cars still makes it hard to let kids play. Another resident, a mother of three, says: “I think there has been overdevelopment here. Where the crane is now will become a gated development of more than 1000 homes. And there are no little shops.” Resident, father of two and state government worker David Wright-Smith, says: “ We need to accept a level of development. What we don’t accept is that no one has thought about amenity. “ We have major roads – Parramatta Road is down the end – but without street widening, we don’t know how people can utilise this area. We have a very tiny park.” Wright-Smith says there are lots of positives to the neighbourhood – great schools and a strong community. But there are also downsides. “Because it is the western side of Strathfield, we often get forgotten,” Wright-Smith says. Datta maintains this is his point: “People must think about what happens when they build houses. These people cannot get out of their homes because of the cars. There should be one council and one Strathfield. But there is not one Strathfield – there are five Strathfields. Those Strathfields which are looked after. And those Strathfields where people are forgotten. “Look at this park – it is serving such a huge area. There is hardly anything for children to play with. It’s the same in Greenacre. This is the injustice. This is what we should concentrate on.” Datta says he is not planning on bringing back a ward system. But he plans for councillors to be responsible for areas, and there will be residents’ committees so every area is represented. “From the very first day the main thing we will do is communicate so people can tell us the real issues,” he says. “ We will form a circle of friends and we will be part of their lives.” LiberaLs cLaim carbon tax to cost $56k I n Homebush’s bustling Rochester Street, Liberal leader Gulian Vaccari is sipping coffee at Bar Cortona and greeting passing small business owners like old friends. Sang Ok, his Korean-born number two on the ticket, rings to talk about the Town Centre campaign. A Chinese volunteer calls up to offer help, and Gulian tells him he is looking for a Mandarin speaker. He has already preferenced the Unity Party, which is running on a strong Chinese- Australian ticket. The polls are looking promising this Thursday evening, and Vaccari is relaxed. His team has chosen not to have the Scene accompany them on their door-stops with residents, so he is fronting interviews alone. Today, Vaccari’s theme is crime, and the Liberals’ idea of a Council Safety Committee to tackle residents’ fears about the issue. “I think people are more concerned,” he says. “I don’t think crime is more prevalent, it’s just that we are more aware these days. “ When I was growing up, my sister and I lived the same distance from our school as my girls live from their school. We walked the one kilometre to school. But we drive our girls. It’s just a perception, nothing else.” But he concedes there is a real crime problem around Strathfield station, and says CCT Vs will be on the agenda to deal with it. “For anything to succeed at a council level, it has to be community-based,” he says. “ We will get shopkeepers, the police, schools, councillors – anyone that wants to participate. “It will be a properly-formed committee with delegated powers back to Council and it will make decisions which the council will then ratify or not ratify.” Vaccari believes between eight and 12 people would be an effective number, and the idea is to create a solutions-driven group. A police representative would listen and suggest action. He believes visible policing is important – from a bicycle squad to mounted police and patrol cars in the Town Centre. But he says there is no need for a police station in Strathfield. There are stations in Ashfield, Burwood and Flemington, and the new transit september 2012 18 Strathfield Scene promiSeS from The Labor offers to form residents’ groups, “I decided to become a councillor so I can provide a motive for the younger generation to contribute more to Australian politics.” — Liberal candidate Sang Ok election special “There should be one Strathfield. But there are five – those which are looked after and those where people are forgotten.” Raj dAttA wiTh dAVid wrighT-SmiTh And fAmily: “ we ofTen geT forgotten.”
September Election 2012