This story is courtesy of the Northbridge Progress Association’s Newsletter – the 202.
By Debra Just, General Manager, Willoughby City Council
A comparison between Willoughby City Council and other councils in Sydney has indicated a significant over-representation of Director and Manager roles within the current structure, thereby adding unnecessary costs to ratepayers. In addition, the changing nature of local government, together with the State Government’s reform agenda, requires new skills currently not represented in the organisation. The recent review and resulting restructure has also sought to clearly identify responsibility for delivering community outcomes. In addition to the new General Manager’s observations, the restructure also drew upon work commenced approximately 18 months ago. Staff whose roles were made redundant were provided with a range of options including employment into new roles.
The outcome of this process was to:
• Save $2 million per annum;
• Reduce 29 Directors’ and Managers’ roles to 19 positions (some of whom are continuing to contribute to Willoughby in new roles) to bring Willoughby into alignment with other councils;
• Create new roles in the required skills of continuous improvement, project and risk management;
• Establish 3 Directorates with responsibility for the outcomes of “place making”, “community” and “customers”.
Editor’s note: A disappointing aspect of these redundancies was that the community was not provided with an opportunity to thank many long-term staff for their contributions to Willoughby City.
Draft Residential Permit Parking Policy – 55% support; with 63% supporting a discount for pensioners. Will include provision for 3 permits per household. Unclear if RMS will allow the scheme or if all houses in a street are eligible for permits.
- Draft Car Sharing Policy – 57% of respondents support charging car share operators for their use of designated car vehicles parking spaces.
- Draft Motorcycle Parking Provision Policy – 55% support more parking for motorcycles
- Draft Long Stay Visitor Parking Policy – many of the respondents wrongly held the view that supporting this policy implies supporting the installation of parking meters in residential streets.
- Draft Parking Provision for Tradespeople policy – No changes to apply to this policy.
- Draft Parking Fees & Charges Policy – There were no comments on this issue.
There is no immediate consideration for the introduction of parking meters as this could be reviewed when the parking demand on streets exceeds 90% occupancy.
Over the past couple of months the RMS has been trialling pedestrian countdown timers as an alternative for the ‘flashing red man’ at intersections including the corner of Archer St and Victoria Avenue.
A vigilant resident pieced together the following information:
A response from Council on the status of the timers is included in the Comments section of this page.
I am just wondering if you have seen these two articles:
In summary of the articles, the intersection of Victoria and Archer Street’s currently have countdown timer’s installed for pedestrians. The SMH article says that they are going to remove these timers (as Victoria&Archer Street is not on the list). I think the timers make the intersection safer and I don’t know why they are being removed?
Not sure if the traffic committee has any influence on the removal of the timers? Also, not sure if the traffic committee has any other data to support the removal of the countdown timers?
I think the countdown timers are good, so unless there is data to support removing the countdown timers at this intersection, it would be good if the traffic committee could try and get the countdown timer to stay at the intersection.
It appears that the 10/50 bushland laws allowing trees to be removed in bush fire prone areas has been reviewed. Thirty new regulations have been adopted from the review recommendations but specific details are not known at this stage.
Also, there has not been a response from Willoughby Council on the status of their application to reduce the area of bush fire prone land.
As required by the Local Government Act, Council recently considered if it wished to make any changes to Wards or number of Councilors. Twenty years ago there were five wards of three Councilors each. A total of fifteen Councilors. About fifteen years ago, Council reduced the wards to four with three Councilors plus a popularly-elected Mayor. A total of thirteen Councilors. It has stayed that way since. In the recent consideration by Council different options were considered. Council in its wisdom decided not to make any changes.
The Dougherty Apartments were built over 25 years ago. They were a joint venture between Willoughby Council, the NSW Department of Housing and Uniting Church Aged Care. Willoughby Council donated the land. The apartment offer both self-care residential and care units in a community atmosphere.
Since last year the building has been upgraded to improve the amenity for residents. Work should be completed next year. The range of services offered will be extended including the availability of a new dementia unit.
The apartments were named after former Willoughby Council Mayor Bob Dougherty and are a tribute to him and his supporting, visionary Council of the day.
Five years after its completion, an independent study has been undertaken of The Concourse.
The Concourse contains:
- the Chatswood Library (500 square metres)
- Art Space
- Car Park
- Urban Screen
- Retail Outlets including restaurants and bars
- Performance venues and meetings facilities including the Concert Hall (1,000 seats),
the Theatre (500 seats), the Civic Pavilion and the Studio.
Within the performing arts facility are also a Rehearsal Room, Green Room, Orchestra
Room (also used for small conferences or a break.
The study found that “The Concourse represents a major breakthrough in the model of cultural precincts in Australia. No other city in Australasia that we know of has achieved anything similar to date.”
The Concourse cost $173M. It was 38% funded by the sale or lease of other Council properties; 32% from lons; 17% from Council reserves and a 10% rate hike for businesses in the Chatswood CBD.
To date, 163,000 people have attended cultural performances; 180,000 people have used the carpark and a massive 685,000 people have visited the Library.
Apart from the Library, the other functional areas within The Concourse have generated an operational surplus.
The report questioned the value of the Urban Screen and the lack of overarching management of the precinct.
In conclusion, the study found “The Concourse has been recognised as an example of innovation and planning which is highly regarded both within the local government sector and across other industries for its achievements in creating a functional public space which combines community services and performing arts with an income generating retail precinct. The Concourse Project Review acknowledges the many positive outcomes achieved by development of The Concourse, but also identifies opportunities for how the precinct can be better utilised and managed to
attract growth in usage and generate greater revenue. The recommendations in the Review
provide Council with stepping stones to achieve the future directions outlined within the
Posted from a Council email sent to a resident:
As promised via twitter this is the response from the Acting Director:
The application was determined by Council last year, inclusive of the removal of trees. It is noted that we are currently notifying residents.
With respect to the subject tree removals, an Arborist report was requested during the assessment of the application, and subsequently assessed by Council’s Landscape Officer and found to be acceptable. The approved development will involve the removal of two trees of high retention value, including a Forest Red Gum and Water Gum. The proposed car park extension requires the infilling of an indented section of the existing car park. The subject two trees are located directly within the footprint of this extension (south side). It was not feasible to retain the two trees should Council consent to the proposed works as clearly informed in the assessment report. However, suitable replacement trees as well as general improvement and maintenance works will be carried out to the affected garden area within Currey Park as required by the approval.
Given the approved car park extension is generally limited within the an existing indented section along the southern elevation of the car park, it is not considered to materially reduce public enjoyment of Currey Park. The proposed additions to the southern side of the existing Albert Avenue Car Park will require minor modifications to the existing landscaping within Currey Park. In particular, the landscape moulding at the rear of the existing water feature needs to be modified, and the pump and equipment associated with the water feature are to be relocated. These works are considered minor, and are not considered to affect public enjoyment and Council’s on-going maintenance of the park. The applicant is required to closely consult and coordinate works within Currey with Council officers, and a public asset protection plan is required to be developed.
The approved car park extension is necessary to address the need for additional car parking with respect to Deferred Commencement Development Consent DA2013/557 issued by the Joint Regional Planning Panel (Sydney East) for the Re-development and refurbishment of the existing shopping complex (Westfield Shopping Centre Chatswood).
Council is the certifier for the CC, which is yet to be issued. There is also a permit application pending for limited construction access via Currey Park, which has been discussed with Council officers.
Let me know if you would like further information on this matter.
I hope this assists. If you require any further information, please contact Mr Johnson on the email above.
Councillor Gail Giles-Gidney
Read Willoughby Council’s response about this fiasco.
A notification letter ( Currey Park Westfield Notification) dated 29th July 2015 was delivered to nearby residents of Currey Park by Westfield’s sub-contractor on the 12th August 2015.
One resident’s response follows:
Thank you for your belated letterbox notice yesterday re the expansion and encroachment of Westfield Chatswood Carpark into public land at Currey Park. The letter was dated July 29, but only delivered Aug 12, after work had already started in the now fenced-off area of Currey Park.
This situation is rapidly turning into a public, social and PR disaster for both Westfield and Willoughby Council. The felling of at least 12 trees, including at least 2 healthy and mature Water and Red Gums of 40 feet in height is unforgiveable.
Your letter states that Scentre Group (Westfield) will be reinstating the park and trees on completion of the works.What rubbish and how misleading is that! The large gums are irreplaceable. Sure you might plant a few smaller trees and try and get some of the landscaping back to somewhere near normal. But the entire canopy of the large trees and with it the shade for park goers, privacy for residents (from the car park) and general amenity for everyone will be forever lost.
This part of the carpark development should never have been allowed to get past first base, let alone proceed. To steal public land and destroy so many trees for the sake of an extra handful of parking spaces is an absolute tragedy and disgrace. The PR disaster to Westfield over this is only just starting to build and is going to resonate with the local community (your customers) for years to come.
Already an online petition is gathering pace, talkback radio is happening, and community groups and progress associations are making their stand. State and local politicians are now involved through Twitter and their constituents. Regrettably, senior management of Willoughby Council have gone into lockdown mode, shamed into silence.
Stop the Currey Park part of the process now before the damage becomes permanent.
READ WONG -Currey Park Trees Must be Saved, 14th August 2015 Labor MLC