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SSC Newspaper : April 2013
6 Strathfield Scene news By Bernadette Chua Strathfield councillors may be grounded from foreign travel, except in special circumstances, after a sometimes angry hour-long debate over a European study tour. The seven-day European tour, which four councillors approved at an extraordinary meeting last month, was axed after a rare recission motion was passed unanimously. The recission motion was proposed by independent councillor Helen McLucas and backed by Labor’s Raj Datta and Daniel Bott. The European tour, described in an officer’s report as “to inform and educate council of the latest developments in urban planning and design and local governance”, was to have been integrated with a Sister City trip to Gapyeong, South Korea. The Gapyeong trip will go ahead. Cr McLucas described the European leg, estimated to cost $5,200 a head in air fares and hotels, as “a vacation” in a email to voters – a move that angered Mayor Gulian Vaccari and fellow Liberals Sang Ok and Stephanie Kokkolis. But Cr McLucas refused Cr Kokkolis’ requests for an apology, saying she would be presenting a motion to the May meeting to prevent councillors from travelling overseas at all, unless the trip was voted on unanimously. Council argued for an hour over the recission motion, with councillors Vaccari, Kokkolis and Ok accusing Cr McLucas of dividing the council, “disrespecting the Korean culture” and using “misleading and deceptive” words. Crs Vaccari, Ok, Kokkolis and Deputy Mayor Andrew Soulos had voted unanimously at an extraordinary meeting for three councillors to visit three European cities before visiting Korea. Crs McLucas, Datta and Bott did not attend that meeting. The cost per councillor in airfares and hotels totalled $8,900 for the Korean and European legs combined. However, the officer’s report pointed out the European leg was not budgeted. Mayor Vaccari maintained council prided itself on being a team, and said the tone of Cr McLucas’ email and its criticism were not in line with this. “I’ll be supporting the recission motion because it is important that this council returns to a united force working for the residents,” he said. Cr McLucas said she didn’t believe a study tour to Europe was in the best interest of the residents and that councillors should not be travelling on ratepayer’s money. “I have no issue with a visit to Gapyeong, but we have to ensure we do things in the best interest of residents,” she said. “ We are over budget in [councillor] training and we are unbudgeted for this extended trip.” Cr Bott said he wanted the Korea trip to go ahead as delegates from Gapyeong had visited Strathfield in 2011. Cr Datta said that against a background of possible forced amalgamations, this was “not a time when we should go on tours to Europe”. The meeting became heated when Cr Kokkolis asked Cr McLucas to formally apologise for the email to residents. “There was an email sent by Cr McLucas that had many misconceptions and I want to clear this up for the residents,” Cr Kokkolis said. “The email implies that the Liberals would be going on a vacation at the expense of the residents, but this is false.” Cr Vaccari, Kokklis and Ok argued the reason for the visit to Europe was to study good quality development. But McLucas argued: “Council has employed consultants and have university-educated staff to make big planning decisions. We are here to focus on rates, roads and rubbish. Dangerous traffic, illegal dumping, noise pollution, poor lighting and vandalism are destroying the quality of life in what should be a quiet greenacre neighbourhood, according to residents. residents of Marlene crescent, greenacre voiced their concerns to council about safety and a list of other problems. they said they feel ignored and forgotten. Barry fielding told council that trucks have been tearing down Marlene and Davidson streets, which residents share with industrial sites, including bulk landscaping company Materials in the raw and a Dick smith warehouse. “ it is not safe for our residents to be walking down our streets,” he said. Pierre Bridges, said his daughter had been knocked down twice by speeding cars as she walked home from work. “ those cars come tearing down Liverpool road and she is not the only pedestrian to be hit,” he said. “ But it’s not just this. Because the area is so poorly lit, the other residents and i have seen women walking on the median strip on Liverpool road because they are too scared to walk on the foot paths.” residents also complained of illegal dumping, noise pollution and vandalism. “ the landscaping company has ignored the conditions of the development application and have been operating outside the allocated hours,” Mr fielding said. “aside from the trucks, we have issues of people illegally dumping old building materials and noise and dust pollution. ” councillors Daniel Bott and raj Datta visited residents prior to the meeting. cr Bott raised a motion to ensure council investigates and deals with these problems. “ i won’t accept that this section of the Lga (Local government area) should be neglected for any longer,” he said. “ for a resident, driving in and out of their street shouldn’t be a hassle for, but it is for them.” council staff and rangers are currently monitoring illegal dumping and operating hours of businesses in the area. Materials in the raw marketing manager Jeff Bedford had not commented when the scene went to press. Euro trip row may ground councillors CounCillor Daniel Bott t 0427 069 201 F 9764 1034 firstname.lastname@example.org. gov.au april 2013 council news In brief CounCil and Committee meetings First tuesday of the month Ordinary Council at 7pm, Council Chambers, 65 Homebush road, Strathfield third tuesday of the month liveable Neighbourhoods (formerly planning) Committee at 6.30pm at Strathfield Library 65- 67 rochester Street, Homebush Fourth tuesday of the month (as required) • Prosperity and Opportunities (formerly Economic) Committee • Connectivity Committee • Community Wellbeing (formerly Social) Committee CounCillor Helen MCluCas t 0406 703 044 F 9764 1034 helen.mclucas@strathfield. nsw.gov.au CounCillor sang ok t 0427 090 895 F 9764 1034 email@example.com. gov.au CounCillor gulian VaCCari Mayor of strathfield t 9748 9924 F 9748 9902 firstname.lastname@example.org CounCillor raj Datta t 0427 571 469 F 9764 1034 email@example.com. gov.au CounCillor anDrew soulos Deputy Mayor t 0427 507 837 F 9764 1034 andrew.soulos@strathfield. nsw.gov.au CounCillor stepHanie kokkolis t 0427 521 467 F 9764 1034 stephanie.kokkolis@strathfield. nsw.gov.au court date set Camden Lodge fight continues The Land and Environment Court has set a June 25 date to begin its hearing on Camden Lodge. Residents who wish to object to demolition will have the opportunity to address the court on the first day of the hearing. Strathfield Council has employed a lawyer, heritage expert and structural engineer to speak at the hearing. It has also employed barrister Philip Clay, an expert in land and environment cases. The case, which is expected to run for three days, will cost council an estimated $25,000 to $30,000. amalgamation motion Call for public consultation Councillor Raj Datta moved to call on the State Government to set up community consultation groups on amalgamating NSW local governments in a bid to get the people heard. “ We can’t let the government get what they want without listening to the residents,” he told council. The motion was passed. Big Issue, page 10 Please call 9748 9924 for further information. Business papers for council and committee meetings are available from council’s customer service centre, public libraries and at www.strathfield.nsw.gov.au – from the saturday prior to each meeting. “we can’t even walk our streets,” claim residents Former Mayor Tony Maroun and Gapyeong delegate Bai Soo-Yong exchange gifts in 2011. meet your CounCillors