Money on Offer to Council

Council has squandered time to engage with the amalgamation process so that Willoughby would be well prepared when amalgamation became inevitable. Now it seems Council has less than a year to come to grips with the issue of amalgamation.

The State Government’s fundamental position on amalgamations has now changed. The Government is now leaving open the option that they will move away from their ‘No Forced Amalgamation’ position.

More importantly, the Government is offering cash incentives for Councils to amalgamate. Not just a one-off payment but also the promise of recurring funding. Potentially, this offer is worth megabucks to a Council.

Recently Council asked the General Manager to ‘find savings’. Council is again considering hefty rate increases.How can Willoughby Council justify to its ratepayers not at least progressing discussions with adjacent Councils with a view to amalgamating when one of the scarcest commodities a Council needs (cash) is on offer?

Mowbray Precinct Traffic

From an active resident:

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to give you all a quick update on the status of the traffic report recently submitted to Willoughby Council and some of the subsequent happenings since its release.  It’s been an event-filled couple of weeks.

Apologies in advance for the length of this email; there is a lot to update.

BACKGROUND

As I mentioned to you in my email on 31 August, the summary of the long awaited report conducted by the traffic consultant company PeopleTrans was submitted to the Transport, Access and Environment Committee meeting on 1 September.  It was drafted by James Brocklebank, who is the group leader of traffic and transport, for Paul Collings, who is the acting infrastructure services director for the council.

The summary contained some alarming assertions, namely that the data showed a decrease of traffic in the area in the time since the traffic lights have gone in at Beaconsfield & Mowbray road.  It therefore recommended maintaining the status quo at that intersection—in other word, no change to the turn restrictions at the lights.  It also suggested that a 300 vehicle / hour limit be placed on eastern Coolaroo Road (this is one car per 12 seconds on average) and that parking be partially banned on Coolaroo if traffic increased to more than 300 vehicles / hour.

As many of us have discussed in subsequent conversations, the report concluded that what we have been seeing with our own eyes is not true.  Since we have all been living the reality and know better, we were very concerned that something was amiss with the data feeding into the report.

There were also some recommendations for nearby roads, mainly further west on Mowbray, including changing the intersection of Greenlands & Mowbray to allow for a dedicated right turn lane / phase for westbound traffic on Mowbray into Centennial Avenue headed toward Lane Cove.  The general consensus seems to be that this will help alleviate some of the rat running affecting Coolaroo west of Greenlands.  The report also mentioned the intersection of Mowbray and the Pacific Highway as a major cause of the traffic problems throughout the area.

Over the 3 days from the publication of this report to the committee meeting on 1 September, a group of worried residents urgently met and tried to spread the word as much as possible that we needed a united front to let council know that we disagree with the report and that we oppose its adoption.  Despite a very rainy weekend, we managed to pull a significant number of signatures together on a petition to highlight our concerns about safety, something that was not really mentioned in the report.

THE COMMITTEE MEETING

A large group of concerned residents from Coolaroo and Dalrymple attended the Transport, Access and Environment meeting on 1 September.  Our goal was to present a united front focused on:

·         Questioning the validity of the data in the report, as our experience has not matched up with the conclusions of the report.  To this end, we conducted an impromptu traffic count on the morning of 1 September in the morning peak and counted over 300 cars / hour in the 8-9 AM time block—something already over the proposed limit.

·         Highlighting our concerns about the safety of our residents in the area (something seemingly lacking in the report) and establish it as an absolute priority and duty of care for council in all discussions about the traffic in the area.  This included reminding council that the increased traffic is not the result of a rat run, but rather a forced traffic situation due to an active decision of council to support restricting turning at the Beaconsfield—giving traffic no other choice but to drive through the area.

·         Questioning the logic and safety of the recommendation to ban parking on Coolaroo to allow for even faster and more traffic.

·         Requesting a new study with accurate info be conducted focused on Coolaroo / Dalrymple.

·         Understanding the political process of how all of this works and fits together.

The meeting itself was well attended by residents (thanks to those of you who attended and spoke).  The committee, which included the mayor, was receptive to our concerns.  We also got the opportunity to listen to a more detailed presentation of the report by the representatives from PeopleTrans as well as query them on it.

There were some very interesting things that came out of these discussions.  First of all, Beaconsfield, Dalrymple and Coolaroo are not considered local streets, but rather collector roads (this is a classification by Willoughby Council).  This means that the maximum speed is 50 km/h and maximum load is meant to be 500 cars per hour.  In the case of Coolaroo, due to it being narrow and windy, the study recommended setting a 300 car per hour limit but maintaining the 50 km/h limit.  It recommended continuously monitoring traffic along Coolaroo to determine when the 300 car per hour threshold is reached, at which point council should reconsider options—including traffic / parking restrictions and allowing a right hand turn out of Beaconsfield onto Mowbray.

The traffic counts shown indicated that while the overall traffic dropped from 2012 (pre-lights) to 2013 (post lights) in the study, the numbers for Coolaroo increased while upper Beaconsfield decreased:

Coolaroo Road

 

2012

2013

AM Peak (2 way)

220 cars / hour

257 cars / hour

PM Peak (2 way)

181 cars / hour

170 cars / hour

Roughly 81% of the increase in Coolaroo was eastbound traffic, which makes sense given the turn restriction at Beaconsfield.  The story is a happier one for Beaconsfield, though:

Beaconsfield Road

2009

 

2013

AM Peak (2 way)

170 cars / hour

130 cars / hour

PM Pack (2 way)

12 1 cars / hour

111 cars / hour

While PM peak is similar, the AM peak seems to have all migrated to Coolaroo.

Upon questioning the traffic report, we were able to ascertain several very interesting things:

·         The December 2013 study was conducted during private school and university holidays, understating the post Beaconsfield lights traffic volume down Dalrymple & Coolaroo and it thus fitting into an “acceptable level” of under 300 cars / hour.  We countered that we believe the road is already beyond that and that we had indeed counted more than this in an impromptu AM peak count that very morning (a light traffic morning, by the way).  When pressed, the consultants acknowledged that updated non-school holiday counts wouldn’t hurt, given that the data are already 9 months old.

·         The average speed down Coolaroo (85th percentile) was roughly the same (47 km/h in 2012 and 46 km/h in 2013).  The consultants mentioned that this was also within acceptable standards for a collector road.  We pressed them to define an acceptable safe speed given the narrow, winding nature of the road.  They were non-committal but mentioned that a road safety analysis should be undertaken to ascertain precisely this.

·         The consultants conclude that the lights at Beaconsfield have increased traffic on Dalrymple / Coolaroo, but not above acceptable limits of 300 vehicles / hour.

·         The consultants’ projection for 2021 was for 319 vehicles / hour on Coolaroo, something that we believe we are already “achieving.”

·         The recommendations for what to do when the 300 vehicles / hour threshold is breached range from allowing turns at the Beaconsfield lights, parking bans on Coolaroo, and speed bumps / traffic calming.  The consultants prefer parking bans.

·         The consultants concluded that there is a problem on Coolaroo and that something needs to be done about it now rather than later.  Related to this, Coolaroo is projected to be a major problem by 2021 once all the units go in on the Lane Cove side of Mowbray.

·         Lane Cove Council have approved the conversion of a total of 317 houses into 2,329 high density dwellings on their side of western Mowbray—this will have a significant impact on traffic in the surrounding area.

·         Mowbray Public School is slated to expand from 354 students to 1,000, also impacting traffic.

·         The right turn from Mowbray into Centennial will happen, but it’s up to Lane Cove council as to when.

·         There was some interesting discussion around the logic for the ban on right hand turns at Beaconsfield, with many residents mentioning that due to it, they are forced down Coolaroo whereas they would prefer to use Beasonsfield.  One of the Beaconsfield residents explained that they never wanted lights to begin with, so the no turns was a compromise.  We countered with safety and actual experience of residents.   Our point was that Mowbray road is a perfectly good main road just 100 m to the south, but impossible to use due to the turn ban.  At least council heard this first-hand from residents and seemed somewhat open to questioning the logic as to why traffic is intentionally diverted from Mowbray down Coolaroo / Dalrymple.

Overall, we made our viewpoints known, and the councilors present as well as the mayor were very supportive of our concerns.  The mayor stated that she wants to be proactive rather than wait until the 300 cars / hour is exceeded.

After hearing and accepting our concerns, the committee unanimously approved a motion to accept the traffic report and recommend that the full council adopt it, but to add the following:

·         That there be a new traffic count study for the area, focusing on Coolaroo & Dalrymple

·         That a road safety audit be conducted on Coolaroo with a specific focus on the overall safety of the road and the behaviour of the traffic, not just volumes

·         That there be letterbox drops informing residents of the study

·         That there be a community meeting held on the matter once the new data are in

·         That the consultants come back with recommendations for traffic management in the area now for when the maximum thresholds are exceeded

·         That steps should be taken now to find solutions to the problem rather than wait until it becomes worse

·         That the full traffic report be put on public exhibition for a month

·         That the other recommendations in the report be accepted (related to Mowbray road west of Greenlands as well as the Mowbray / Centennial intersection redesign)

On balance, this was a positive outcome for us, and the councilors present (including many from other wards as well as the mayor) were supportive and understanding of our concerns.

THE COUNCIL MEETING

One week later, on 8 September, several residents and I attended the full council meeting to support the recommendation of the committee.  I was given 3 minutes to address council, and I made the point that we strongly support the committee’s recommendation for additional counts and a road safety study; that we are very concerned about safety and are worried that someone will get knocked down and killed if nothing is done; and that while we are appreciative of the fact that sensors have again been installed in the area, we stress that next week is the beginning of private school holidays.

The council acknowledged that the counts need to continue for some time to avoid the school holiday effect and are aware that this mistake in data comparison should not be repeated.  We were all a little surprised that the counters had gone in on Monday, 8 September prior to the council meeting, but we were happy about it.  It seems that Paul Collings is very proactive on this.

In the end, the full council passed the motion to accept the recommendations of the committee unanimously, with a couple of small changes to include language that school holidays be taken into account for the study as well as to add Goodchap Road to the study area.

NEXT STEPS

Now we wait.  You may have noticed that there are new traffic counters and sensors in some of the local roads, including Beaconsfield, Dalrypmle, and both ends of Coolaroo, so they are counting now.  We also requested that there be an additional sensor installed on eastern Coolaroo near Greenlands to properly capture the speed of the traffic once it encounters the straightaway and accelerates downhill.  This was agreed to by Paul Collins.

The study as presented to the committee will also be placed on public exhibition soon.  It’s not clear if this will happen concurrently with the new counting and safety analyses, but in any case we will watch for it.

In the next months, a road safety analysis will be conducted and recommendations made.  It will be a longer process, but it’s important to stay involved and aware.

Once the minutes from the full council meeting are published and the traffic report is up for exhibition, I will inform you.  We will need some help to spread the word and keep the momentum going, and we welcome any contribution you can make.

Thanks again for your interest and involvement.

Best regards,

Hazard Reduction Burns

Hazard reduction

Hazard reduction

The following information was provided by Clr. Saville:

The land along the northern section of Millwood Ave belongs to NPWS; therefore as land managers they are responsible for any fuel reduction activities in that area.

The small sliver of land (approximately 0.2 ha) between the Acoustics lab and Millwood Ave belongs to Willoughby. Council has a bush regeneration crew in there maintaining the weeds and subsequent fuel loads.

Blue Gum Park is to the north east of Millwood Ave which is managed by Willoughby Council. Council conducted a strategic burn there last year 10th of May. 

 There is also an established and maintained APZ along the bushland and private property interface.

WCC conducted 6 hazard reduction burns in West Ward in the last 5 years.

 These were:

 Avian Crescent- WCC0910/06      Mowbray Park51    Nov-09

  • Avian Crescent- WCC 0707        Mowbray Park    1.55    25/02/2011
  • Valerie Road- WCC 0809/01       O.H Reid Reserve        0.17    3/03/2011
  • Fullers Bridge- WCC 0910/07     O.H Reid Reserve        0.6     20/10/2011
  • Ferndale Park-WCC 0809/02       Ferndale Park- 2 sections over 2 days   1.02    3/09/2012
  • Greville Street Blue Gum Park   0.37    10/05/2013In addition WCC maintain established APZ’s in the West Ward.

Burns in the West Ward are not programed for the 2014/15 year as WCC has planned strategic burns in the east where there are areas that have not had a burn for many years with very high to extreme fuel loads.

Further, If the burn is 1 ha or below WCC is  required to notify residents who live within 30 meters of the burn site.

If the burn is more than 1 ha then WCC is required to notify residents who live within 200 meters of the burn site

Prior to any burns being carried out Council staff have to prepare the site. During these preparation works signs are placed around the work area advising of the proposed burns. Council will also notify residents by letter box drop if the burn is generally occurring behind their properties even if they are outside the areas requiring notification listed above.

There is a link in councils website notifying residents of any planned burns that have been approved by the Bush Fire Management Committee and when they will be carried out. At times this can be difficult to adhere to due to the weather constraints and burns can be delayed

In addition to fire reduction burns Council also undertakes manual fuel reduction (removal of fuel by hand) in asset protection zones which provides further bushfire protection. These are maintained on an annual basis.

There are no burns planned for the west ward for 2014-2015. In the past 5 years there has been 4 burns achieved.

Mowbray Rd Precinct

Please find below the way the Committee’s recommendation has been reported. This recommendation will go to Council on Monday night.
 
There are a number of points people might like to consider.
 
1. Does it make sense to place the PeopleTrans report on exhibition now or would it be better to wait until the other studies are completed?
 
2. It should be spelt out that the area to be ‘letterbox dropped’ is the WHOLE of the study area.
 
3. It would be prudent to spell out where the additional traffic counts are to be undertaken (whilst there was a lot of talk about Coolaroo at the meeting, people in Goodchap also have a problem).
 
4. Again,the safety audit probably needs to be in some other streets as well.
 
If you believe there should be amendments to the recommendation below, contact your ward Councillors:
 
 
 
 
 

COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

That:

1.     The PeopleTrans Study and the recommendations outlined in the report be placed on exhibition on Council’s website for community feedback for a period of 1 month.

2.     That residents in the area be ‘letterbox dropped’ to inform them of the availability of the report and opportunity to comment.

3.     That further traffic counts be undertaken in the area to obtain current traffic data.

4.     Council engage a road safety audit of Coolaroo Road to assess the current road speed conditions, road safety risks, and provide recommendations in regard to traffic speeds.

5. That the consultants be requested to provide further advice on options for traffic management in the area that can be considered to proactively address the projected traffic volumes on the local road network now and protect the amenity of the local residents.

6.    That a community meeting be held during the exhibition period to inform local residents of the report and recommendations.

7.    That Lane Cove Council be advised that Willoughby Council gives qualified support to the recommendations made in the SMEC study along the lines of the commentary in this report with further feedback to be provided following the exhibition period.

8.    That Lane Cove Council be advised that Willoughby Council is not willing to contribute to the cost of installation of works recommended in the SMEC study as the works should be funded by Section 94 funds collected from development activity on the Lane Cove side of Mowbray Road or from RMS (in the case of the signals at Mowbray Road/Centennial Avenue).

9.    That Lane Cove Council be provided with a copy of the PeopleTrans study and advised of the additional recommendations made in that report regarding Felton Avenue, Dalrympie Avenue and Pacific Highway and their support requested for the implementation of those measures.

Acoustic Laboratory

   NALUrbis Consultants, acting for the Church of Scientology Australia (CSA), have issued their first newsletter. Probably the most concerning planning aspect of the proposal is the intention of having up to 460 people on site daily between 8:30 AM and 9:30 PM.

CSA claim that the majority of staff will travel to the site by public transport. However, no one can guarantee that will be the case.

On the surface, it appears that there could be more than 3 x the traffic movements than if the property was used for residential.

 

Urbis is holding a public relations session on Saturday 13 September, on-site from 10AM – 1PM.

Church of Scientology Newsletter #1

 

Residents heard

MOWBRAY & SURROUNDS TRAFFIC

Approximately 30 residents attended Council’s Traffic Committee Meeting last night in response to Council’s report on traffic conditions in Lane Cove North and Chatswood (along Mowbray Rd) as a result of the introduction of traffic signals at Beaconsfield Rd.

The Consultant;s Report stated that generally there had not been any significant increase in traffic in local streets since the light went in. This was contrary to what the residents are observing in their streets.The Consultant’s traffic figures were many months old. Residents say the increase has primarily been in the past 3 months. 

There was also concern expressed that the traffic counts were done in early December when private schools are already on holidays.

Coolaroo residents presented a petition about increased traffic.There was discussion about allowing a right-hand turn from Beaconsfield Rf into Mowbray Road. Another request was for a set of lights at Dalrymple. There was no discussion of increased traffic in Goodchap Rd but there has been significant comments ion this site.

The Consultant’s stand was that issue causing the problem was the operation of the intersection of the Pacific Highway and Mowbray Rd. They indicated that to resolve that problem could cost hundreds of millions of dollars (so highly unlikely).

At the end of discussion it was resolved along the lines that:

  1. Everyone in  the study area to be letter-boxed advising them of the reports going on exhibition and that during the exhibition there will be public meeting on the issues.
  2. A Safety Audit to be undertaken in the winding streets in the area (streets should be specified)
  3. After the Safety Audit, the Consultants to bring back their findings to Council and community
  4. Consultants to develop proactive solutions to protect the residential amenity of the area

Please note: The above draft motion will be ‘fleshed out’ and proceed to a full meeting of Council next Monday night. The report for that meeting will be available on Council’s website after 5pM this coming Thursday. (Comments in brackets and italics above were not part of the resolution but perhaps should be).