Tag Archives: Midland/Guildford Ward councillors

Midland/Guildford candidate survey

Local government elections are on!

You will have received ballot papers in the post this week. Voting closes on the 17th October and we encourage everyone to take part in our local democracy.

To assist, we’ve just sent a short candidate survey to the Midland/ Guildford ward candidates with email addresses (please email us Todd Burgess), details below. We’ll post the responses as they come in and we hope this will inform your vote.

If you have other questions or you’re in another ward/Council, we encourage you to ask your candidates direct. You can find all the profiles and contact details on the AEC website.

Dear Midland/Guildford candidate,

Congratulations on standing for council!

We represent a local community group called Transition Town Guildford. Transition Towns are a global movement aimed at building community resilience through relocalisation. Formed in mid 2010, our group is focused on Guildford and surrounds. Our vision is “A strongly connected community and a healthy environment”. Please see our website for more information and details of past events. 

We encourage our members to participate in the local community; this of course includes voting in local elections and getting to know local representatives. To help inform our members and the broader community we are conducting a short candidate survey (questions below). We invite you to respond as soon as possible and your answers will be posted on our website in the order received. 

Good luck and we look forward to working with you in the future. 

Regards

The Steering group of TTG.

Survey

1) There have been several recent requests made to increase the transparency of council meetings e.g a later starting time, audio and/or video recording, having deputations with agenda items, non-block voting on items with presentations/deputations present etc. What are your views on accessibility to council meetings and processes?

2) A recent study by Murdoch University into tree cover and urban heat showed that Swan compared favourably with other councils with respect to percent tree cover. However, this average figure may reflect the semi-rural nature of parts of the shire with a greater abundance of trees. Given the strong association between tree canopy cover and the health impact of the heat island effect, as well as the amenity value of trees for Swan, what is your long term vision for tree cover in the urban parts of our community?

3) The City of Swan currently spends ~$9.38 per resident on cycling infrastructure. However leading councils in WA are spending up to $70 per resident. Will you support and champion increasing funding for cycling infrastructure?

4) Looking at transport more broadly, for exisiting councillors, how have you supported the creation of people friendly transport (walking, cycling, public transport)? For prospective councillors, how will you support and encourage walking, cycling and public transport use?

5) Finally, what’s your vision for the future of our community?

RESPONSES

Joe Marino

1.        I have always supported the community to have accessibility to Council meetings and processes.  Councillors need to be accountable  for transparency of meetings.  While I was on council for 14 years I always was open and accountable for my decision making, allowing the community time and accessibility to me before I considered the decision on Council.  Improvements are required in the current environment; if elected I will be happy to consult the community on new improved measures to be put in place.

2.       I am very supportive of tree planting throughout the urban parts of the City.  I have participated in annual tree planting with community groups together with promoting the free tree program with in the City.  Whilst on Council I was always supportive of this program.   The program allows for the community to access free trees for planting from the City.  My long term vision is to increase the allowance of trees provided by the city to the community each year and to implement a bench mark of annual tree planting by the City.

3.       When I was first elected on Council there was no funding on the budget for cycle paths for the City.  Council introduced a cycle plan to be introduced within the City so funds were allocated to the implementation of the plan.  Over the period of the plan funds were increased to provide for the paths.  I was instrumental in the allocation of funds to be increase over time.  I have had no vision on the current plan plus the allocation of funds as I am no longer a Councillor.  If elected I will revisit the plan for future direction and seek increased funding over the coming years.

4.       As a previous Councillor, I put a benchmark in place for funding requirements for all paths, which was increased substantially by me over a period of time.  Also introduced the free bus shuttle service in Midland and increased funding for bus shelters.  I also continuously lobbied State Government for improved services to public transport.   As for the future I will review the current budget allocations and put in place appropriated funding allocations to promote and improve people friendly transport.

5.       My ultimate vision is the have a sustainable and affordable City for our community to live in.  Consult the community as to the introduction of sustainable opportunities within the City and to reward the community with incentives when implemented.  With this in mind I would continue to focus also on core activities such services for youth and seniors, community safety, graffiti management, heritage, improvements to roads, paths, streetscape, drainage, the environment, facilities for the community and a balanced approach to development.  I would like to make the City the ultimate choice to live in.

Kent Acott

1. I believe council meetings should start later, perhaps 6.30pm. And after attending many meetings as a member of the public, I know there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding of procedures. This needs to be addressed. The recording of meetings should also be re-assessed. More engagement with the public is vital for a progressive and forward-thinking council.

2. I certainly appreciate the value of a significant tree cover and the importance it has on overall community health and well-being. It becomes even more critical as Perth’s urban sprawl shows no real signs of abating. It is absolutely critical that we protect the tree cover we have. I would be very interested in speaking to your group about other tactics and options.

3-4. For many years, I have been writing and speaking about the need to reprioritise our transport focus. We need to put people first, cycling second, public transport third and the car last. This needs to be done at all levels of government. (It is encouraging to hear our new Prime Minister has distanced himself from the 1950s thinking of “build more roads”). For the City of Swan this means creating streets for people (with benches, tables and things to do and engage), providing more bike infrastructure (including dedicated bike paths, more bike racks and repair stations) and lobbying for improved public transport services. These should be the prime focus of all developments and road work, not just after-thoughts.

5. I want to help Midland-Guildford become a vibrant and exciting community, where families thrive and businesses flourish. I want to give Midland-Guildford a soul by creating interesting and engaging spaces, places and events. I want to introduce a contemporary way of thinking that puts people first. I want to embrace the area’s unique qualities and heritage fabric. And, most of all, I want its residents to feel safe and comfortable. This is my vision for Midland-Guildford. Check out my facebook page for more information: https://www.facebook.com/KentAcott.MidlandGuildford

Ian Johnson

Transparency of City of Swan meetings is important to align the City more closely to voters and residents. I have supported later City of Swan council meeting times for some time, and if elected this is the first thing that I will raise with other councillors. I work in Perth and live in Guildford, and the current City of Swan meeting start time of 5:30pm means I need to leave the office at 4:45pm. On a typical work day I do not leave the office until 6pm, so in my view City of Swan meetings need to start at 7pm to accommodate councillors who work in Perth, AND just as importantly, City of Swan residents who work in Perth who wish to attend council meetings. We need more people to attend.

I also favour web casting of meetings so that residents can see what is going on. The meeting procedures used will need to be modified so that people watching, or attending in person can follow the events.

On the subject of trees, I have been defending trees wherever I have lived for decades. Recently I took part in community action to defend street trees in Guildford.  If elected I will continue to defend our trees and promote the planting of new trees.

Trees grow, mature, and eventually die, and we need a long term plan for the trees of Guildford. We need to look at what type of trees, and succession planning for trees. With the changes to the management of the flood plain around Guildford, it appears that there is scope for more trees to be planted. It would be great to see the original pre-settlement woodland  return to the flood plain. As a volunteer firefighter I am well aware of the risks involved with woodland close to housing at the rural urban interface, and so there would need to be adequate firebreaks and other precautions.

As an occasional cyclist, I cycle from Guildford to work in Perth about 20 times a year and was pleased with last year’s upgrade of the Perth/Midland cycle path  to include the underpass at Lord Street, Success Hill. This has made the journey far safer and slightly faster. The new cycle path extension under construction comes past my home in Swan Street, Guildford  so I am looking forward to using it. I will support new cycling infrastructure and some simple changes in Guildford would include cycle racks in the area of the coffee strip. In the longer term, I will support the proposed cycle bridge to carry the Perth Midland cycle path over the River Swan. If elected I will be seeking ideas for improving  the cycling experience in the City of Swan.

As a prospective councillor I have already worked to ensure people friendly transport. In May 2014 the City of Swan took away some of our Guildford jarrah and iron bus shelters without proper consultation.  I noticed that 3 bus shelters had gone missing, including one I used when I commuted by bus to Belmont, and so I campaigned to get them back. When the City put back 5 bus shelters I thought my campaign was exceeding expectations until I found that they had taken away 8 bus shelters. Most of the time I go to work by train from East Guildford station. The City of Swan needs to be advising the State Government that greater capacity is needed on the Midland Line.

As part of my election campaign I did about 80% of my own leafleting and so must have walked over a hundred kilometres. Some parts of Midland Guildford are not pedestrian friendly as there are no footpaths. In addition I noticed in places such as Stratton and South Guildford there are bus stops, but no bus shelters. The CoS should provide more bus shelters and should encourage the PTA to provide more frequent bus services.

We have a lot of train lines and railway reserves but the passenger network is goes only as far as Midland. I think the City should be talking to the State government about extending our passenger network in the City of Swan.

My vision for our community is to continue the 2 storey building limit in Guildford and to support the heritage character of Guildford. I believe all homes in our community should have gardens. In Midland Guildford as a whole, we need to retain open space for children to play on – for this reason I oppose the Midland Oval development as the 12 storey block of flats the City of Swan wants to build will remove the green space that the children who might live there would need. Instead of turning the Midland Oval into concrete jungle let’s do something imaginative – what about a children’s adventure playground, or a botanical garden, or community garden or simply return it to the use envisaged when the Oval land was donated to the community over a hundred years ago.

Finally my vision is for a community where the City of Swan recognises that it is there to serve the community and that means finding out what the community wants and implementing that. If elected I will work to improve the communication on policy matters between residents and the City. In particular I will listen to groups such as Transition Town Guildford and other groups in the area to deliver what people want and expect.

ianpjohnson@yahoo.com, 0411 097 393

https://www.facebook.com/ianjohnson.midlandguildford

The saga of the Illawarra flame tree and the old Rose Gum

The mature Illawarra flame tree and Rose gum in Clayton Close park.

The mature Illawarra flame tree and Rose gum in Claymore Close park.

On Wednesday night (16th April), the City of Swan council voted (8 councillors to 6) to uphold a previous decision to chop down two mature, healthy trees on public land and not allow consultation with the broader community. The following tale would seem hard to believe, but it happened and is a ridiculous example of poor processes and decision making by City of Swan Councillors.

 Firstly the background and history

1) On 22nd January, a petition by 11 local residents was presented to Council to remove the two trees on Claymore Close Park, the larger  Rose Gum (Eucalyptus grandis) and smaller Illawarra Flame (Brachychiton acerifolia).

“The reasons put forward by the petitioners for the removal of the trees were the mess in the park made by the shedding bark and small branches from the tree, the risk of large branches excising from the tree, and the risk associated with the falling of the tree during storm and wind events.” – City of Swan

City officers visited the site and found the debris to be “normal
seasonal habits of this species of tree”, but in addition an expert Arborist was consulted and a report prepared

“The report identified that the trees were healthy and in sound condition with no remedial works required. The risk assessment confirmed that the trees represent a low risk to the public.” – City of Swan, my emphasis.

Therefore at the Council meeting on 5th March, Council staff recommended that the two trees remain, but “If Council resolves to remove the trees, it is recommended that such removal be subject to consultation with the community.

The councillors present voted unanimously to retain the trees (14-0). So far so good, a logical, evidence based result. All the above can be read in the council recommendation and arborists report.

2) Three weeks later at the next council meeting Midland/Guildford ward Councillor Daniel Parasiliti, who was absent on family matters from the last meeting, moved a new motion to remove the trees. Stating that:

“Record the reason for the motion is that it is not accepted that the trees (subject of this petition) are of ‘low risk’ and it is believed that they pose an unsatisfactory risk to local residents.”

This is when a major flaw in the accessibility and accountability of council meetings becomes evident. Nothing is recorded of the debate, statements or arguments made in the Council minutes. Only the motion, outcome (9-5) and those who voted for chopping the trees (Crs Cheung, Elliott, Gregorini, Haynes, McNamara, Parasiliti, Trease, Williams and Zannino) and those against (Crs Bailey, Congerton, Lucas, McDonnell and Wainwright).

The only reason I had any idea about this was a friend happened to be there and mentioned some of the false and illogical arguments made by Cr Parasiliti, for example, ‘neither the residents group, the Guildford Association, or Transition Town Guildford had opposed the motion, so clearly they support cutting down the trees’. What!?

What happens if you have no idea such a motion is being moved? Presumably ratepayer, community groups and even broader residents should be informed of relevant motions or consulted? Why was the original staff recommendation (above), to go to a community consultation if the trees are to be removed, not enacted?

Or what happens if you happen to have a clash with another meeting that night?  Surely in this age of technology the council could record audio of all proceedings of meetings and provide them online for residents who were absent or have accessibility issues in getting to meetings. This would allow all residents in such a large and diverse City to hear what is said by their representatives. I understand the South Perth council and some other metro councils already do this.

Nonetheless, I gather that Cr Parasiliti and Cr Gregorini argued, contrary to their own staff and expert evidence of arborist, that the report was flawed (branches were found on the ground which were 5 cm and not 3.5 cm, and the tree was not viewed on a windy day), and therefore poses an “unsatisfactory risk to local residents”. How a unanimous vote by council can change next meeting to a 9-5 defeat is perplexing to say the least. Did the trees suddenly become more dangerous three weeks later?

Other questions this raises are:

  • Was the consultant given a chance to rebut the statements made by Councillors regarding the report?
  • If the report is actually flawed, why did the council pay for it in the first place? And will they be seeking reimbursement?

This decision also sets a dangerous precedent. Without a pressing need or demonstrated risk, can residents simply lobby to have public trees removed?

The final chapter

3) For the next meeting Cr Bailey moved a motion to rescind the previous decision to chop down the trees, with the intention of allowing community consultation on the matter. I gave a deputation on the issue on behalf of Transition Town Guildford, which is pasted below.

Unfortunately, the council voted against the motion (6-8): For, Crs Bailey, Congerton, Färdig, Lucas, McDonnell and Wainwright. Those against allowing community consultation Crs Elliott, Gregorini, Haynes, McNamara, Parasiliti, Trease, Williams and Zannino.

It was extremely disappointing that all three of our local Midland/Guildford Councillors (listed below) voted against this motion. Not only to chop down mature, healthy public trees, but to not even allow a stay of execution for community consultation.

Personally, it was also disturbing to hear the arguments being made in favour of cutting down public trees by those against the motion. Paraphrased as:

  • The Gum tree is out of place, it’s too high and wide for a small park (Cr Gregorini)
  • Gum trees drop limbs, I don’t trust them (Cr Haynes)
  • Exchange of trees makes up for it (Cr Elliott)
  • Local residents should decide, it’s in a cul de sac not Stirling Square (Cr Parasiliti)
  • There’s no new evidence or petition to refute assertion of a flawed report/high risk (Cr Parasiliti)
  • What’s more valuable, a tree or a life? (Cr McNamara)

Other Councillors did address some of these arguments, but it’s frustrating that members of the public aren’t able to address these in the debate. Here are some  quick rebuttals:

  • This is Australia, Gum trees are our native flora and Rose Gums are one of the original historic trees of Guildford.
  • The tree is in the middle of a park and not over hanging private property. Benefits of trees increase with size, so the bigger the better I say.
  • Yes, Gum trees drop limbs, but some species are more prone than others. And if an expert says the tree is healthy and low risk what more can you do.
  • Mature trees which are potentially 50 years old cannot simply be ‘replaced’ by planting a new sapling. It will take decades for the same result. [Update – I’ve since been informed by a resident that the Gum tree is around 11-12 years old]
  • It doesn’t matter if it’s in a small park in a cul de sac or a large park, public trees are the property of all residents of the city, and in my view the Councillors are entrusted with preserving our natural heritage.
  • No expert evidence was ever provided to show a flaw in the report or high risk to residents. Do residents have to sign petitions and hold protests on every decision to demonstrate that we don’t support it?
  • We live in a world with risks, we can’t cut down all the trees and wrap ourselves in cotton wool.

Finally, to add insult to injury it became clear during the debate that the local residents had not viewed the Flame tree as a risk and a majority of Councillors accepted it could remain. However, they were unwilling to vote to rescind the motion and no other avenue was available to modify the previous decision to save it. Again, I think this highlights a flaw in the decision making process.

The sad part is, this never should have got to this stage. The first decision by council should have been an opportunity for staff and Councillors to explain to local residents that the tree was safe and the numerous benefits they provide to our community, which I outline below.

I encourage everyone to go immediately and view these trees in Claymore Close (behind the Woodbridge tavern) before they are removed. Feel free to tie a ribbon or leave a memento to commemorate this senseless destruction.

I also encourage you to contact the Midland/Guildford ward councillors and let them know what you think about this decision. You might like to CC the Mayor (who also voted for the chop), Deputy Mayor and CEO, details below or find your local Councillor here.

Cr Daniel Parasiliti: daniel.parasiliti@swan.wa.gov.au, 0403 241 821

Cr Sandra Gregorini: sgregorini@globaldial.com, 9294 1827

Cr Mark Elliott: mark_d_elliott@live.com, 0458 660 804

Mayor Charlie Zaninno: charlie.zannino@swan.wa.gov.au, 9267 9104

Deputy Mayor Mick Wainwright: mick.wainwright@swan.wa.gov.au, 9377 7845

CEO Mike Foley: mike.foley@swan.wa.gov.au

 

My deputation:

Good evening Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Councillors and staff.

I’d like to address the issue of the trees in Claymore Close, but also the broader benefits of well-established trees to the city and community.

Let me make it clear that I and the committee of Transition Town Guildford do not support the removal of these trees. They are young, healthy, in the middle of a public park, and do not overhang any property.

One of the key issues raised is risk. We must acknowledge that there are inherent risks in every part of our lives, and that we cannot control everything in our environment. In this case, we should listen to the experts, the Arborists report, as the council did originally. It clearly states there is low risk. To argue otherwise must be demonstrated and supported by evidence, not emotions.

But also to realise that every tree has risks. The Jacaranda trees already present and proposed as replacements drop copious amounts of flowers, which attract bees. You may be familiar, as I was as a child, the often occurrence of stepping on a bee in bare feet under a Jacaranda. So does the risk of bee stings and anaphylaxis require that we remove the Jacaranda’s as well? Removing these trees when there is low risk sets a dangerous precedent.

As an example, down south next to the medical centre where my father holds a clinic there was a massive native Christmas tree (Nutysia Floribunda). You will be familiar with the glorious bright yellow masses of flowers this parasitic plant produces around Christmas time. This was the largest specimen I’ve ever seen, most likely over 100 years old. It was located in front of a day care centre, which for years had operated without incident. However, the day care centre was then bought by ABC learning, which required that the tree be removed, in case a child was stung and died from a reaction. Even though located next door to a medical centre, the tree was removed. But < 6 months later, ABC went bust, the child care centre changed hands again, minus the glorious and unique tree.

My point is, Council has a responsibility to protect trees as a public good. Businesses and residents change hands, and people come and go, but these trees, with care, will be there long after all of us. Of course residents of a street should have input to their surrounds. But the council must weigh this against the protection of trees for the community as a whole, for future residents and future generations, along with the numerous benefits trees provide, which I’ll now briefly mention.

Trees are vital for alleviating ‘the urban heat island effect’. We know that heat waves are the biggest natural killer in Australia. For example, twice as many people were killed in the heat wave before the tragic Victorian Black Saturday bush fires as were killed in the fires themselves.

Studies have shown that suburbs with trees are 4-6 C degrees cooler than non-treed suburbs – thanks to shade and transpiration. And the bigger the tree the greater the benefit. Removing these trees in their prime will mean > 20 years before a similar benefit is received by any replacement. With increasing climate change and extreme heat waves, having leafy suburbs will literally make the difference between life and death for the most vulnerable.

This is exactly why the City of Vincent has set a target to double the amount of shade from trees by 2050, and will spend $200 000 on it this year alone!

There are also numerous benefits financially. Shade from trees prolongs the life of bitumen by protecting it from harsh summer conditions. And a study by the University of Western Australia last year found that properties on tree lined streets were worth an extra $16 000.

And of course trees provide a myriad of other benefits, including cleaning air pollution, storm flood mitigation, and for native trees in particular, like this Eucalypt, provide habitat for birds and biodiversity. Trees even provide benefits for mental health, with numerous studies showing positive effects on productivity, recovery and well-being when people see vegetation.

Finally, I’d like to correct comments made about Transition Town Guildford during the debate last meeting on this issue. It was flattering to hear that Guildford residents are the most politically active, however, this doesn’t mean we pore over Council Agenda’s and Minutes as claimed. We probably should. But we’re busy people, doing stuff in our community, and with commitments that often clash with council meetings. It’s false logic to assert that just because we aren’t vocal and loud on an issue, we approve. Lack of opposition is not evidence of support.

In conclusion, I hope that you will support Cr Bailey’s motion later in the meeting and preserve these trees. I hope that the original decision, based on sound expert evidence will prevail.

Thank you.