28 March 2016

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More detail needed on sky rail Neil Walker neil@baysidenews.com.au CONSULTATION about options to separate road from rail at level crossings along the Frankston line has begun with a series of drop-in sessions held in suburbs along the rail line this month from Cheltenham to Frankston. Staff from the Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA), including engineers, were on hand to begin the process of talking to affected communities about possible design plans to remove level crossings including concern about the visual and noise impact of elevated rail along parts of the Frankston line. Opponents of elevated rail, dubbed

sky rail, were unimpressed with the lack of detail on offer at these initial community consultation sessions. No Sky Rail: Frankston Line group spokesman Willem Popp said the LXRA sessions were “warm and fuzzy� without answers being available. “It was designed to keep us happy but not give any answers,� he said. “They were biased towards sky rail in all the material on display. It was all very much anti-underground solution and pro-sky rail solution.� Visitors to the LXRA consultation sessions could leave post-it notes on maps showing where level crossings will be removed. “The comments left on the post-it

notes on the maps and the signs were overwhelmingly against sky rail in way, shape or form.� The Carrum and Patterson Lakes Forum group, a community group that speaks to politicians and council about local issues, is also worried about the impact of elevated rail on suburbs along the Frankston line. Group spokesman Cameron Howe attended consultation sessions and said a lack of answers about engineering logistics at this stage is baffling. “The consultation process is not transparent and it appears that the authority is making changes on the fly which is of concern as it will impact the end result and ultimately the lives of many people,� he said.

LXRA project director Adam Maguire said there had been “a great response� to the first round of community consultation sessions with more than 1500 people making the effort to go along to speak with staff about level crossing removals. “There will be two further opportunities in 2016 for the community to provide feedback, the first in mid-year when the feasible design options are presented, and the second at the end of the year on recommended designs,� Mr Maguire said. Feedback on level crossings removal plans can be left online via a Social Pinpoint tool on the LXRA website targeting comments at specific locations along the Frankston line.

The authority will release options for level crossings removals in mid-year so it will become clear whether sky rail is an option for the Frankston line at that point. A final “recommended option� for the Labor state government to consider will be announced by the LXRA at the end of this year. This project is expected to go to tender in 2017 and construction will begin in 2018. “The LXRA can dress this up any way it wants and the government can choose the solution it wants but it will be at its own peril,� Mr Popp said. “The community is dead against sky rail.�

Political points scoring over rates cap policy No love lost: Cr Darrel Taylor, left, has clashed with Labor MP Paul Edbrooke.

MP guns for councillor Neil Walker neil@baysidenews.com.au A WAR of words has erupted between a Frankston councillor and Frankston Labor MP Paul Edbrooke over a state government levy on the Frankston Regional Basketball Stadium redevelopment. Cr Darrel Taylor likened Premier Daniel Andrews to outlaw Ned Kelly when slamming the Labor state government over a $2000 metropolitan planning levy to be charged as part of the stadium redevelopment. “Ned Kelly is alive and well and he runs around by the pseudonym Daniel Andrews,� Cr Taylor said at this month’s public council meeting. Mayor Cr James Dooley asked Cr Taylor to withdraw the remark and the councillor agreed to do so only after being reminded by council CEO Dennis Hovenden that councillors do not enjoy parliamentary privilege when making public remarks. “I will withdraw my comment about Ned Kelly but we are being robbed,� Cr Taylor said.

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Mr Edbrooke made use of state MPs’ parliamentary privilege to launch a scathing attack last week at the expense of Cr Taylor about the councillor’s expenses. “In 2014-2015 Cr Taylor managed to spend twice as much as the ratepayer funds on himself than anyone else,� Mr Edbrooke said. “Ratepayers paid for $25,371 in expenses for Cr Darrel Taylor and in fact the next biggest councillor spend was $10,201, with the least $1375. “When Cr Taylor complains about a small planning levy that applies to all councils as a gross waste of money, perhaps he should look at his own expenses, last year alone his mobile phone bill was $5088.� Cr Taylor, a Liberal Party member, said his expenses were higher in the year highlighted by Mr Edbrooke since he was the mayor that year. “Dan Andrews’ unfair planning levy is a direct hit to parents and volunteers of sporting and community groups who work hard to raise funds,� he said. “It is drawing a long bow comparing

* Incl GST

councillor expenses to an unfair levy. “The overall expenses for all nine councillors is extremely low in comparison to other councils. Considering the tens of million in investment we have successfully advocated for [during the Speak Up For Frankston campaign] it is a good investment.� The redevelopment of the Frankston Regional Basketball Stadium has been the centre of a long-running political stoush between the Coalition federal government and Labor state government. The federal government is contributing $4.95 million to the project, the state government $2.5 million and council $4 million. The Frankston and District Basketball Association will chip in $1 million. Frankston councillors unanimously agreed at this month’s council meeting to write to state Labor Planning Minister Richard Wynne to ask that the $2000 metropolitan planning levy be dropped since the basketball stadium redevelopment is a project of community benefit.

POLITICAL barbs continue to be exchanged over the Labor state government’s rate capping policy, dubbed the Fair Go Rates system by the government, for councils across Victoria. Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins announced last week that the Essential Services Commission will publish its annual rate cap recommendation, based on the cost of inflation, each year. The ESC recommended councils should not increase rates by any more than 2.8 per cent for the 2016-17 financial year, based on the Consumer Price Index and Wage Price Index. Ms Hutchins decided rate rises should be limited to 2.5 per cent based on CPI. The Minister says the launch of the Know Your Council website last year benchmarking individual councils against similar-sized councils across categories such as rates cost, missed rubbish bin collections and customer service satisfaction levels, is another way the government is making local government more transparent. “Local communities should have all the facts, so I’m more than happy for the ESC to publish its recommendations on rate capping,� Ms Hutchins said. “By introducing the Fair Go Rates system, the Andrews Labor government is delivering on its commitment to cap council rate rises and protect Victorian households from uncontrolled hikes.� Shadow spokesman for Local Government David Davis accused the state government of being less than transparent when it comes to how Ms Hutchins determines rate rise caps.

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Focus on councils: Natalie Hutchins has imposed a rates rise cap on councils.

The Liberal MP noted the ESC has refused to table its advice in Parliament to Ms Hutchins about how it determines an annual rate rise cap figure. “The truth is that Minister Hutchins’ cap figure is entirely arbitrary. It bears no resemblance to actual inflation, which increased by only 1.1 per cent in the last full financial year,� Mr Davis said. “Nor does it give any concession for wage price costs, something councils, and the ESC itself recommended be taken into consideration. “While the state government has sought to cap council rates it has simultaneously been cutting state government financial support for local councils and, in breach of Premier Andrews’ election promises, jacking up state government taxes like the fire services levy.�

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Frankston Times 28 March 2016


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