Frankston Times 14 July 2020

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Stay away from peninsula - mayor Stephen Taylor

A PARCEL of public land in Frankston. The attempted sale of the land was subject of an internal audit. Picture: Gary Sissons

Evelyn Street investigation done Brodie Cowburn AN internal audit into the abandoned sale of Frankston Council-owned land on Evelyn Street has been completed. Council resolved to sell off the parcel of land at the beginning of 2019, before later backing out of the sale. An investigation was called into the sale of the land, with Cr Glenn Aitken expressing concerns that negotiations may have occurred without the knowledge of councillors (Public space sale investigated”, The Times, 9/9/19). The internal audit into the matter was conducted by HLB Mann Judd.

Auditors found three issues that presented a “high risk” to council. They were that “there are no policy and procedures for the disposal of significant assets, there was limited documentation in the minutes of EMT meetings in respect of the sale of the Evelyn Street property”, and that “there was no evidence that council officers involved in the proposed sale of Evelyn Street declared conflict of interest.” The report prepared by council officers after the completion of the audit read that “overall the outcomes of the proposed sale of Evelyn Street internal audit conducted by HLD Mann Judd were unsatisfactory. Management will address the weaknesses

identified and introduce relevant opportunities to address the issues of the lack of policy and governance and improve the transparency and accountability of the process moving forward.” In similar fashion to council’s internal audit into planning processes, an abbreviated summary will be prepared by council and made public rather than the full report prepared by auditors. Council had intended to sell the parcel of land, opposite from the Frankston Police Station, to the Department of Justice (“Sale of Evelyn Street open space stopped, The Times, 11/6/19).

THE Mornington Peninsula should be excluded from the metropolitan “lockdown” areas to prevent infected outsiders coming in, Shire mayor Cr Sam Hearn said last week. He fears residents from hard-hit areas of inner-Melbourne may interpret the “one-region” status as a “reason to travel to the peninsula and inadvertently put our local community health containment at risk”. Cr Hearn was speaking after the state government reintroduced stage three COVID-19 restrictions and included the peninsula as part of the Greater Melbourne urban area. Television news bulletins on Thursday showed hordes of visitors making the most of the warm weather in peninsula towns and on foreshores. Cr Hearn said the council acknowledged the appropriateness of the state government’s actions “given the grave urgency of the situation” and affirmed the shire’s commitment to supporting them over coming weeks. But he said a better approach to ensuring public health and safety would be to keep the areas separate so people could not travel here. “With no active cases on the peninsula we encourage everyone throughout greater Melbourne to do the right thing and stay away for the next six weeks.” Cr David Gill agreed: “The peninsula is in lockdown again because we are classified as metropolitan. As a semi-rural shire, some distance from Melbourne, we do not belong in the suburban classification.” Cr Hearn said he was “encouraging our whole community to understand what the stay-at-home restrictions are and to use common sense over the

coming weeks”. “We have been through this before and I’m confident we will band together as a community and get through this,” he said. “The highest priority is to care for each other by remaining vigilant, continuing to keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others and practicing good hygiene. Staying the course during this next phase will make sure we all get through this.” Cr Hearn also said the lockdown would have a huge impact on local jobs. He said the peninsula had lost up to 6000 jobs, seen a 21 per cent drop in gross regional product, and an 11 per cent fall in job prospects. Statistics released over the weekend show that Victoria and New South Wales have only one job vacancy for every 10 people registered as unemployed. In Victoria there are 389,000 people on the dole and 28,700 available jobs. “A further six-week lockdown has the potential to send many local businesses to the wall,” Cr Hearn said. “We would welcome a conversation with the state government about the rationale for our current classification as a metropolitan council when there are a number of compelling reasons to reinstate us as a regional municipality.” MPSC mayor Cr Sam Hearn.

Transparency measures approved by council Brodie Cowburn A SERIES of over 100 measures designed to improve transparency have been given a final tick of approval by Frankston Council at their most recent meeting. Council received the final update

for their Accountability and Transparency Reform document at their 29 June meeting. Work started on the document in May 2018, and has been receiving updates over the last two years. The latest update outlined a series of transparency measures which are set to be implemented at council by the end of this year. They include:

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A review of council reporting templates. A report on advisory committee activities to be tabled at council annually in October each year. A report on the annual reports by external advocacy bodies to be tabled at council annually in October each year.

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A memorandum to be provided to councillors quarterly, detailing which councillors or officers have met with lobbyists or developers. An end of year media report to be included in council’s annual report. A summary expenditure report by department to be included

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in council’s quarterly financial report. A report by the chair of the audit and risk committee to be presented in open council. A greater quarterly disclosure of developer contributions to be included as part of the town planning progress report on a quarterly basis.

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Frankston Times 14 July 2020


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