11 September 2017

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Councillor to cop legal bill Neil Walker neil@baysidenews.com.au RATEPAYERS will not foot any legal bill for a councillor accused of condoning alleged defamatory comments on Facebook. The deputy mayor Cr Steve Toms asked his fellow councillors to approve payment of legal fees he may incur as the result of a threatened defamation suit from Frankston Labor MP Paul Edbrooke. Councillors unanimously decided “that it is not appropriate for public funds to be used to settle or defend the foreshadowed defamation proceedings in relation to councillor Steve Toms”. The decision, made behind closed doors after last Monday evening’s council meeting on 4 September, was made public while a council officer report about the request to pay legal fees was deemed “confidential” by councillors. Lawyers hired by Mr Edbrooke have written to Cr Toms demanding an apology for the posting of an image on Facebook of animals copulating alongside comments about the state MP. The closed Facebook group page called ‘Young Street Traders And Others Affected By The Rejuvenation Project’ has 62 members and one of its two adminstrators is Cr Toms. Facebook group administrators can “approve or deny posts in the group” and “remove posts and comments on posts” according to the social media giant’s guidelines.

Frankston MP Paul Edbrooke

Frankston councillor Steve Toms

Some Young St traders are angry that a $13 million state government upgrade of the street near Frankston train station, begun in November last year and due to be complete by May, is now forecast to be finished by the end of October. Cr Toms, a Labor Party member, has sided with traders and has been highly critical of the Labor state government’s handling of the Young St redevelopment, calling on compensation for business owners. Mr Edbrooke said he was unhappy that the image on the Facebook page administrated by Cr Toms was shown to his young daughter by friends at

school and she asked the MP about the picture. “I’m happy to have respectful, robust conversations with anyone,” Mr Edbrooke said in a statement. “But it is unacceptable that my family and I are exposed to nasty abuse as depicted on this Facebook page administered by a Frankston councillor.” Cr Toms did not return calls on Friday before publication. In another legal dispute, the deputy mayor also dropped an intervention order request against a member of the public described as “a former friend” by Cr Toms in a statement submitted to Frankston Magistrates’ Court.

Monitor imposed on council Continued from Page 1 A municipal monitor will attend council meetings, in public and at briefings behind closed doors, to oversee council’s performance. The minister has the power to stand down councillors and instruct council on governance direction on the advice of the monitor. Councils can be suspended and government administrators can be brought in to run and manage council operations. Central Goldfields Shire Council was sacked last month by the state government amid financial mismanagement failures. The City of Greater Geelong council was sacked last year after an independent report found a culture of bullying and harassment. Mr Edbrooke said the community “tells me that they have had enough of the embarrassing infighting and need all our councillors to work together on behalf of the community, like they were elected to do.” “Frankston should be in the media because of the many positive things happening in our community, not because of individual councillors behaving badly.” It is not known at this stage how long the monitor will oversee Frankston Council’s operations. Frankston ratepayers will pay for the monitor’s work at council.

Stay clear of hospitals PEOPLE feeling unwell – especially with flu-like symptoms – should avoid visiting friends and family in hospital to limit the spread of the virus. That’s the plea from Peninsula Health, which is urging members of the public to take sensible steps to stop the spread

of germs. Those feeling unwell should see their doctor for treatment and minimise their exposure to others. “This is the worst flu season this decade,” Peninsula Health’s executive director of medical services Dr Tim Williams said. “It is vital that we do all we can to keep the patients that we have in our hospitals and rehabilitation services flu-free. “Some of our patients are quite unwell and are susceptible to contracting the flu, which could cause very serious complications. “So, those feeling unwell are asked to please stay at home and avoid visiting our hospitals or rehabilitation services.” To minimise the risk of contracting the virus wash your hands frequently with soap and water, throw away tissues after use, clean frequently-used surfaces and avoid sharing cups, plates and cutlery without washing. “Everyone should consider a flu jab at the start of each winter to further increase their protection. It is still not too late to receive a flu shot now,” Dr Williams said. Peninsula Health runs Frankston and Rosebud hospitals, and rehabilitation services at The Mornington Centre and at Golf Links Rd in Frankston.

TAFE taking shape THE redevelopment of the Frankston’s Chisholm TAFE is beginning to take shape with the building firm ADCO Constructions named as the construction company tasked with the expansion and partial rebuild of the campus. The South Melbourne based builder will aim to have the campus rebuilt next year and since the project is classed as a Victorian Major Project apprentices, trainees or engineering cadets must complete at least 10 per cent of the work on the building.

Australia Day stays on date Neil Walker neil@baysidenews.com.au AUSTRALIA Day will continue to be a day of celebration in Frankston after councillors voted to reaffirm 26 January as the date council hosts citizenship ceremonies and Citizen of the Year awards. Frankston Council will restate its commitment to 26 January being “the official National Day” in a submission to the Municipal Association of Victoria. Council has rejoined the MAV, the body representing councils across the state, after a self-imposed two-year membership absence (“Council to get

back in MAV fold”, The Times 28/8/17). Cr Kris Bolam at the latest public council meeting last Monday (4 September) suggested council reaffirm its commitment to Australia Day. Some councils elsewhere in Victoria, including Yarra Council and Darebin Council — have decided in recent weeks to stop citizenship ceremonies on 26 January “out of respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”. Some indigenous Australians want Australia Day moved from 26 January since this date marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson and is often referred to as “Invasion Day” by opponents of the January celebrations.

“You can only imagine the outrage if there was a movement within America to get rid of Independence Day and I think that outrage is just as applicable in Australia,” Cr Bolam said at the meeting. He acknowledged other councils have the right to decide how they commemorate Australia Day. “Their voters will decide in three years’ time whether that was the right call or not. Frankston tonight has said loud and clear ‘we’re keeping Australia Day’ – other councils can do what they want.” Cr Glenn Aitken mounted an impassioned defence of Australia Day. “It’s a great pity that we even have to raise the issue of retaining Australia

Day as a national day. I have to say, as far as I’m concerned, the people who are pushing for Australia Day to be abandoned or altered in whatever form, they need to go and get a life. “I don’t know what’s going on. People are getting so precious today that you’re almost afraid to move and speak in what’s supposed to be a democratic society. “I’m proud of my country. Our family have lived here now for many generations and I love the country that I live in and I love the land that we have. I’m sick of critics and the people who keep on pushing and shoving and being loud with these sorts of issues.” Cr Colin Hampton suggested there could be change afoot for Australia in

the near future. “Eventually when this country comes to its senses and we become a republic ... then and only then should we look at a change in Australia Day once that republic has been pronounced,” he said. “I believe at that time it would be an appropriate time to call it ‘Australians Day’ which would encompass all of us. Hopefully on that day, there would be recognition of our indigenous people too.” The MAV will hold a state meeting on 20 October and Frankston Council will also flag disquiet over level crossings removal consultation, threats to the autonomy of council decision making and is pushing for state constitutional recognition of local government.

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11 September 2017


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