It was another successful and very interesting council meeting last night. There were plenty of questions from local residents, there was debate on a number of key issues and there was decisions made that affect everyone in Rockingham.

If you’re so inclined you can read the full 117 page agenda here.

If you’d prefer the highlights, read on…

 

Public Questions

  • Ms McPherson raised the issue of a lack of bins available on and around the jetties in Rockingham. She says that because of a lack of available bins on the jetty, people are discarding their fishing gear.
  • Mr McKeown raised the issue of street drainage being inadequate during the recent storm.
  • Mr Mumme raised his concerns about how future developments like the recently cancelled Mangles Bay Marina might be handled.
  • Ms Hughes and Mr Burgin both asked about the possibility of traffic calming along Arcadia Drive after the recent accident in which a pedestrian was killed.
  • Ms Park and Mr Ellis both voiced their concerns about our Sister City relationship and the proposal to send a delegation of Councillors, City Staff and Community Members to Ako before the end of the year.
  • Mr Green asked questions about the potential to rezone land in Cape Peron in support of a proposed Coastal Park.

All of the questions above will be answered in full once the city officers have had a chance to prepare a report. Everyone will receive an answer to their question and they will be made public as part of the agenda for next months Council Meeting.

 

Council Decisions

Proposed Reconsideration of Telecommunications Infrastructure (Mobile Telephone) Secret Harbour District Centre – State Administrative Tribunal

This proposal was in front of council for the third time. There was a great deal of debate around this issue, as there had been on the two previous occasions. My concern, and the reason I had previously voted against the proposal was because I wasn’t satisfied that Telstra had sufficiently investigated alternate locations. Since then Telstra has attended mediation with 2 council representatives and more information has been provided. It is now clear that other locations were investigated and as you’d expect, nearly all resulted in a public backlash. It’s human nature that everyone wants to use their mobile phone, but no one wants to live next to the tower. The sad fact is that no matter where the tower is put, someone will complain, but it has to be put somewhere. I voted in favour.

The tower was granted approval 7-3.

Proposed Amendments to Planning Policy 3.3.2 – Bed and Breakfast Accommodation

This is a perfect example of something that tends to get overlooked and not often discussed. The proposed changes were fairly technical in nature so it’s not exactly exciting stuff. Nevertheless it’s an incredibly important update because it gives more clarity and reduces the amount of confusion around what is and is not allowed within the City of Rockingham for those who want to operate a Bed and Breakfast. I’ve spoken about my desire to see more work done to support and grow the tourism industry in Rockingham. These changes, whilst only small, form part of a bigger picture that is working towards making things easier for all involved. Hopefully now, our current B&B operators, and those considering opening a B&B in the future can spend less time navigating the red tape, and more time promoting and running their business.

The amendments were granted approval 10-0

Budget Review – February 2018

The budget that the City works within is reviewed three times during the financial year. The City staff are incredibly skilled at ensuring their predictions are accurate and there is rarely any large discrepancies between the budgeted and actual figures. Of note in this review is that the city has lost around 5.75 Million in revenue from the Miller Road Landfill Facility. This is due to the loss of a contract with a regional council.

The landfill facility generates a great deal of income for the city and goes a long way towards helping fund the new infrastructure that everyone wants whilst keeping rate increases to a minimum. The facility will likely continue to operate for another 30 years or more, but with the state governments waste levy increasing, and a trend towards producing less waste (which is a very good thing), the City will need to become less reliant on the income from Millar Road.

On a positive note, solar heating at the Aqua Jetty has saved $227,000 and $286,000 is expected to be raised through hire fees now that the Mike Barnett Sporting Complex is City run.

The budget review was granted approval 10-0

Completed Review of the Council Policy – Leasing

Much like the amendments to the planning policy covering Bed and Breakfasts, this was a fairly technical review. The new policy will establish a uniform and equitable approach to community leases, ensure that a commercial lease returns a market rent and clarify what is the responsibility of the lessee and lessor.

The review was granted approval 10-0

Recommendation from the Global Friendship Committee

Given how often large budget items pass through council without any discussion, it surprised me that there was a great deal of debate, and public interest in something that represents approximately 0.0002% of our annual budget. That said, I wholeheartedly agree that the Council has a responsibility to ensure the City spends every dollar wisely, and I genuinely believe that the $35,000 budgeted for this trip is money well spent.

Some of the detractors pointed out that there is little to no financial benefit to the City through maintaining this Sister City relationship. My answer to them is that we don’t expect our public libraries or our parks to return a profit, but we all agree that are important in maintaining the type of community we all want to enjoy. The Sister City relationship falls into that category. Yes, there is the potential to increase tourism, to establish potentially profitable business partnerships between businesses here in Rockingham and in Ako, Japan, but that’s not the main purpose.

The main purpose of the Sister City relationship, in my eyes, is to encourage community groups, youth groups, sporting groups and the like to get out of their comfort zone and interact with people they wouldn’t normally have the chance to interact with. The Councils of both cities have the responsibility to maintain the relationship and act as a conduit to enable more community groups to make the trip.

Maybe in the past that hasn’t been achieved, but that’s my goal.

That is why I voted in favour of the trip, that is why I was nominated by Cr Elliot to be part of the delegation, and that is why I pushed for the inclusion of this line in the motion when the issue was being discussed by the Global Friendship Committee.

“That Council approves the invitation of expressions of interests from community members to participate in a community delegation to the City of Ako, Japan in conjunction with the
official delegation.”

Nearly 20 years ago, I was part of the Rockingham Scout Group when we, along with the Warnbro Scout Group, hosted a group of Scouts from Ako, Japan. I was 17 at the time, we went camping, we bonded over our shared involvement in Scouting, we learnt about each other’s cultures. All in all, it was a fantastic week and the type of experience that most 17 year olds never get the chance to enjoy. There was an attempt at fundraising for a return trip, but sadly it never happened. An international trip with 20+ youth members, takes time to arrange and a great deal of funding. We didn’t have the resources, which is why I’m pleased to share the news that community members who are part of an incorporated organisation will be able to apply for a community grant up to $3000 to help with costs to visit Ako, Japan. I’ll be working closely with a number of community groups to assist with fundraising and grant applications to see that as many people as possible have the opportunity to establish a relationship with the counterparts in Ako.

The proposal was approved 6/4

Recommendations from the Christmas Festival

This has been Cr Joy Stewart’s passion for quite some time. Each year the City holds a Christmas Lights event on the Rockingham Foreshore. Cr Stewart has wanted to see this expanded to include our very own Christmas Pageant. I’m pleased to announce that December 2018 is going to be very festive around the Rockingham Foreshore and the Village Green.

The proposal was approved 10/0

Recommendation from the Neighbours Unite Advisory Committee

The Neighbours Unite Advisory Committee has been running for a number of years. The Neighbours Unite Volunteers work tirelessly to help make our neighbourhoods a safer place. The program runs well, is fully funded by the city, and is growing exponentially. As a result there was little need for the advisory committee, so it’s been shut down. Just to clarify, Neighbours Unite will continue, it’s just the council advisory committee that’s no longer required. If you’d like to get involved with Neighbours Unite, you’ll find information on the City of Rockingham Website. I’d like to mention my personal thanks to Toni Williamson, Bob Cooper and Tony Gale for all the work they have done, and continue to do.

The recommendation was approved 10/0

 

Next Council Meeting

Council meetings are held on the fourth Tuesday of every month at 6:00pm. In April this falls on April 24th. I think it’s great to see people attending and showing an interest. Yes, much of what the council does can be a little dry, but at the end of the day it’s your city and your council. It’s your responsibility to make sure your voice is heard.

 

 

 

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