23 January 2018

Page 16


Letters - 300 words maximum and including full name, address and contact number - can be sent to The News, PO Box 588, Hastings 3915 or emailed to: team@mpnews.com.au

Shire’s gifts register should be public I agree with former [Mornington] MP Robin Cooper who wrote about Mornington Peninsula Shire Council’s gifts registry (“Council should have transparent ‘gifts’ list” Letters 16/1/18). Yes, we should have a council registry of gifts that is publicly accessible. Also, I believe that more meetings such as briefings should be open to the public. I have many times brought up council transparency and accountability for discussion by councillors and found they are willing to make improvements. A public gifts registry is another important element in showing our community that we take our council responsibilities seriously. Unfortunately, state and federal politicians have not taken the lead in displaying a willingness to apply the same level of open and accountable governance to themselves as they expect and demand from local government. Cr David Gill, Balnarring Beach Editor: The rules for councillors and council officers to declare gifts are set out in the shire’s Gifts Benefits and Hospitality Policy - a document that is not readily available to the public.

No response Our employees - politicians at the federal and state levels and Mornington Peninsula Shire’s CEO - seem to have forgotten that they are just that, and have all apparently decided not to respond to letters and emails, let alone issues raised. Not even a pro-forma response. Why can’t we sack the lot of them and start again with more responsible workers? Barb Rimington, Balnarring

Tourism benefits? I write to wholeheartedly agree with Mechelle Cheers who queries the benefits of tourism on the Southern Peninsula (“Please explain tourism benefits and income” Letters 9/1/18). Certainly it’s not the residents who benefit. We’re constantly trapped in our own streets while trying to get on to Point Nepean Rd and, as ratepayers, forced to pick up the foreshore cleaning costs for the hundreds of day trippers who drive down, bring their own provisions, then leave their rubbish behind for council trucks to remove daily. I have a suggestion for the council to recoup some of the costs of tourism: install parking machines and enforce time limits. Ratepayers and bona fide residents, including holiday home owners, could be issued with exemption stickers (similar to Kingston and Bayside residents), so as not to be double-hit (rates and parking costs). This would provide harassed ratepayers and residents with some financial relief. No doubt traders would be up in arms about such a proposal, but they are only a small proportion of ratepayers anyway.

I was also interested in Ms Cheers’ comments regarding hospitality employment. Most of this employment is short term, casual or both and I’d love to know how many of these employees get paid award rates and penalties, let alone superannuation. The area is ripe for a Fair Work Australia/ATO blitz. I am not anti-tourism and realise people have every right to visit our towns. However, tourism should not be such a financial burden on our infrastructure and already stretched ratepayers. Denis Mason, Sorrento

Road closures How things have changed. We used to have elected representatives called councillors, to represent our wishes to the managers at Mornington Peninsula Shire. Their role now seems totally irrelevant because decisions that impact on our community are now made internally by the “faceless men” we employ, who refuse to consult with us. Once again a commercial promotions group has been granted a permit to shut down the Esplanade from Wilsons Rd, Mornington, through Mt Martha to Bruce Rd, Safety Beach, to run a triathlon over the weekend of 3-4 March. The closure affects 11.7 kilometres of our road and 46 intersecting streets. Mt Martha loses its car park so this company can run its business all for a permit application fee of $160. Claims of a supposed economic boost from visitors just simply don’t stack up. Being previously involved in triathlon events to international standard in three states, I know just how unsuitable this site is. It cannot be run without total disruption to the locality. There are more suitable sites on the peninsula. As an “affected resident”, you may ask why you don’t know about this, and the answer is that council management decided that you don’t need to know, but there is usually a sign near the shops a few days before the event. Despite the state government’s “good governance” guide for councils stipulating the need for consultation, our council refuses to consult with affected residents, even after numerous written requests. So, this is possibly the only notification many hundreds of affected residents will get. David Mason, Mt Martha

Review tourism There is no doubt that the subject of tourism on Mornington Peninsula needs an urgent review. Action needs to be taken to educate residents on the value of tourism in the community and, most importantly, how it must be managed. This would then obviate the need for some locals to constantly whinge about valued visitors. I have never seen tourism so disorganised as it is on our peninsula. My background includes counselling and developing tourism in centres throughout Australia, consulting leading tourism

operators, plus operating my own attractions and probably Victoria’s largest caravan park. At the outset the community requires a professional education program which would outline the value of this “clean industry” and, most importantly, how it should be operated in a district. For instance, from when I launched it publicly, Sovereign Hill now has about 500,000 visitors annually. It has contributed more than $25 million to the district and has about 350 staff and 250 volunteers. Most importantly, you do not hear Ballart residents complaining about visitors to this and other Ballarat attractions. The same can be said about districts such as Echuca (Port of Echuca) and Swan Hill (Pioneer Settlement). The industry also introduces young people to the business world as casual staff. It appears that Mornington Peninsula Shire Council is not geared to handle tourism efficiently and effectively. Councils normally do not allow people to camp on open public land. They also have a communications program to inform visitors regarding the location of rubbish receptacles and politely warn them of potential fines. This should be overseen by an adequate number of rangers, trained on how to liaise with visitors in a friendly but positive fashion. Let’s stop the whinging and instead be objective. Howard Bull, Mornington

Pool’s time has come I read with interest the letter from Ian Bennett (“Solo swimming” 16/1/18) as he has missed the point about the need for a 50 metre indoor aquatic centre. It is not about Carol Dickman or anyone else doing laps, it is about everyone having convenient access to a 50m indoor pool, for swimming, water aerobics, water sports, a hydrotherapy pool (for when you’re injured or old), a wading pool for toddlers and overall, a social hub. Water aerobics at the existing 25m pool has to limit numbers at times as there is not enough pool area for everyone to participate and have three lanes available for lap swimming. The need is compounded by a government directive that all primary school children are to have swimming lessons and be able to swim before they graduate to senior school. The cost and time involved in transporting schoolchildren to the nearest existing venues will be outrageous. If Mr Bennett is worried about the cost to ratepayers, maybe the money spent on the sculptures at either end of Rosebud recently should be questioned. Also let’s not forget the purchase of Wannaeue Place at upwards of $5.75 million set aside for an aquatic centre. So please let’s not be personal about someone speaking on behalf of many southern peninsula people and look at the bigger picture. We’ve waited long enough. Pamela Davis, Rye

Frankston first I totally agree with Ian Bennett (“Solo swimming” Letters 16/1/18) that we do not need, or are entitles to, a 50 metre swimming pool. Because of the 10-year delay between former councillors and the bloody mindedness of their supporters for a pool on the Rosebud foreshore, we dipped out on the right to a regional 50m pool - Frankston Council got it instead [officially opening the Peninsula Aquatic Recreation

Centre in September 2014]. We the ratepayers were expected to fork out $40 million for a 25m pool on the foreshore. Now, Carol Dickman wants the ratepayers to fork out in excess of $50m plus annual running costs because she wants a 50m pool (“Pool support” Letters 19/12/17). To put it simply: Ms Dickman, you can’t have one. As Mr Bennett said “you need a catchment area of at least 100,000 people”. The petitions and the polls conducted at public meetings clearly showed little support across the ratepayer base of the southern peninsula for a pool in the first place, and they were certainly against one being put on the foreshore. The pro pool people remind me of little children, they are to finally get the pool they want, but now they want a bigger one even after they were content to accept a 25m pool on the foreshore. It’s quite amusing when they turn up at council meetings decked out in towels and bathing caps demanding a rethink about the foreshore even after being told that it is never going to happen. My advice is to accept a 25m pool with all the trimmings on the designated site or nothing. Maybe because Mornington has a bigger population the 25m pool should be placed there for the greater good of the southern peninsula community and Ms Dickman and others can continue to support the pool in the Rosebud industrial estate. John Cain, McCrae

Hell on Helm On the evening of Wednesday 10 January I drove my mother home to Martha Cove, with my baby also in the car. I turned into Helm Av and was horrified to see the number of cars parked bumper to bumper on the left (south) side of the road. Some were on the road and some were partly on the nature strip, so that only one car could drive down the road at a time despite it being two lanes. When I was halfway up the street, a large car came speeding towards me and I barely missed hitting parked cars when I tried to get out of its way. There was not enough room to negotiate the traffic safely and I was struck by how dangerous this is. What if an emergency vehicle such as an ambulance or fire engine needed to pass through? Or someone was trying to cross the road and couldn’t get out of the way in time? Or there just wasn’t enough room for me to swerve and we had an accident with my baby in the car? The current parking arrangements at Martha Cove, and particularly Helm Av, are not safe. In other parts of Melbourne this issue is addressed with either permit parking, no standing zones, or angle parking, so that gaps are left between vehicles to give you room to pull over if someone is coming the other way. Why could this not be considered for Martha Cove, along with the construction of adequate visitor parking, which will be required in any case when the commercial precinct is completed. A little ingenuity on the part of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council would lead to greatly increased amenity for Martha Cove residents and visitors, as well as sustainability for the development overall. Dr Natalie Gray, Elwood SEVERAL letters have been held over due to space and will be run in next week’s edition.

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Mornington News 23 January 2018

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