Post COVID service from Council

Response from Councilregarding post-COVID service levels

[One thing that members have trouble understanding is that how with staff and resource reductions post COVID that Council can return to pre-COVID service levels?

Council’s services continued to be delivered at or close to normal service standards during COVID-19, except services forced to close due to health orders made by the NSW Government. Council’s 2021-22 Operational Plan and Budget provides for Council services to operate at pre-COVID-19 levels. The tables below show financial and human resources available to support Council services and projects.

A comprehensive community perception survey conducted in November 2020 showed very high levels of satisfaction with Council services during the 12 months prior to the survey.

In the spirit of transparency, members would like summary evidence of the service categories where staff and resources cuts have been made and an indication of pre-COVID service levels in a form that can be monitored going forward.

Neither cuts to staffing nor resources have occurred, and none are planned. Please refer to the tables below, which contain comparative financial information and staffing numbers to support this response.

Can Council assure the community that they will not use COVID induced financial responses as an opportunity to cut services and service levels?

Council has not used the need to exercise fiscal responsibility in response to COVID-19 to justify recommending reduced service levels and this is reflected in the 2021/22 draft budget and operational plan which is currently on public exhibition.

Can Council provide pre and post COVID (say 2 years either side)  budgets, categeorised by service levels. If not, why not?

The tables below summarise two years of actual and two years of planned expenditure. The first table shows expenditure by Community Strategic Plan (CSP) outcome, the second table shows expenditure by expenditure type, while the third table shows budgeted full time equivalent (FTE) staff.

As you can see, there is no planned reduction of the total resources applied to achieve our outcomes. However, you may notice in the second table a change in budgeted expenditure for employee costs from 2020/21 to 2021/22. This is because Council’s budget for next financial year incorporates a more refined forecast of vacant staff positions, compared to previous years. The third table shows that although employee expenses will reduce next financial year to better reflect vacant positions, there is no intent to reduce the number of full time equivalent staff included in Council’s budget.

Unkempt roundabout gardens

Basically, if a council officer happens to notice something, action MIGHT be taken.

What audits are carried out on the contractors engaged by Council for garden maintenance and street speed traffic calmer gardens? Please include the frequency and manner that the audits occur so that an understanding of what is occurring can be obtained if audits do occur.


Auditing for the maintenance of gardens in our Local Area Traffic Management (LATM’s) devices is by visual inspection. The contract is supervised by Council’s Recreation Assets Officer and whilst driving around the LGA undertaking park inspections and triaging customer service requests, he sees the majority of LATM’s. Targeted visits are made to LATM’s in less regularly travelled back streets.


Each inspection checks the condition of plants, weed growth and litter. Where necessary, work is referred to the contractors for attention in line with maintenance standards or if a site appeared to have been missed in the contractor’s program of work.


Unfortunately, landscape works are sometimes vandalised, in particular through the theft of new plantings for what appears to be private use. Some incidents are reported as Customer Service Requests. Mostly, they are noticed and rectified by Council staff as part of their normal duties.


Anyone wishing to report concerns about the condition of gardens in our LATM’s can contact Council on 9777-1000 or by email at email@willoughby.nsw.gov.au

Street sweepers need replacing

For decades Council’s street sweepers in the Council have operated on a fortnightly rotation. This regularity has changed done now to intermittent and irregular street operations being between 4 to 5 weeks visits. Why is this? What is the policy or operational issues behind this change?

The street sweeping schedule is generally fortnightly, which has been the case for many years. That program is subject to all machinery being operational, but can at times be affected by breakdowns, in which case we prioritise certain high activity locations. Given the ageing nature of one of our two road sweepers, we have tendered for and purchased a new road sweeping machine and expect delivery before the end of May 2021. In line with asset renewal plans and funding availability, our second road sweeping machine will be replaced next financial year.

100% renewable energy to reduce emissions

Motion going to Council. g: – That Council brings back a report detailing how Willoughby City Council can escalate its targets to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and zero emission by 2040.

Council Officer’s responded  that given the extensive work involved in preparing a Council Report, it is recommended that Council be provided with a briefing prior to any report. They also provided the following information: Emissions associated with electricity comprise over half of Councils total emissions. The procurement of a large proportion of renewable energy is a cornerstone of our emissions reduction strategy. Our Green City Plan 2028 provides a strategic framework to achieve climate change outcomes for the community and includes the following targets:

• By 2020 we will emit at least 20 per cent less GHG emissions from our operations compared with 2008/09

• By 2028 we will emit at least 50 per cent less GHG emissions from our operations compared with 2008/09

Our operations will achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner if viable

• 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020 for Council operations.

• 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2028 for Council operations.

Reduced developer contributions

The NSW Government’s is proposing to reduce developer contributions. Other proposals include linking population growth in the calculation of rates. There are significant financial implications of these combined reforms.

In the response to the Government Council Officers have argued aligning rates revenue with population growth must be equitable and not further burden existing ratepayers. Under these proposals, existing residents would, in effect, take on the burden of providing infrastructure that was previously the responsibility of developers.

Greville/Beaconsfield Seniors Proposal Refused

MATTER DETERMINED
DA-2020/240 at 99 Beaconsfield Road & 22B Greville Street, CHATSWOOD NSW 2067. Demolition of two (2) existing
dwellings and construction of Seniors Living consisting of seven (7) self-contained dwellings, tree removal, car-parking and associated works.

PANEL CONSIDERATION AND DECISION
The Panel considered: the matters listed at item 6, the material listed at item 7, the material presented at the meeting
and briefings and the matters observed at site inspections listed at item 8 in Schedule 1 of this Determination and
Statement of Reasons. The Panel adjourned at the end of the meeting to deliberate on the matter and formulate a resolution.

Development application
The Panel determined to refuse the development application pursuant to section 4.16 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
The decision was unanimous.

REASONS FOR THE DECISION
The reasons outlined in the Council assessment report, specifically:

  1. Pursuant to Section 4.15(1)(a)(i) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, 1979, the proposal is
    unsatisfactory in respect to the matters for consideration under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing for
    Seniors or People with a Disability) 2004 (Seniors SEPP) and the Willoughby Local Environmental Plan 2012
    (WLEP) for the following reasons:
    a) The proposed development is non-compliant with Clause 40(4) of the Seniors SEPP with respect to the
    height of buildings, the number of storeys for buildings adjacent to a boundary and buildings located in the
    rear 25% of the site being more than one storey. The applicant has not provided a Clause 4.6 written
    request with respect to any of the three non-compliances with Clause 40(4) of the Seniors SEPP;
    b) The subject site does not comply with Clause 26 of the Seniors SEPP with regards to access to facilities
    and public transport. The applicant has not provided a Clause 4.6 written request to justify non-compliance
    with Clause 26 of the Seniors SEPP;
    c) The proposed floor space ratio exceeds the maximum threshold stipulated in Clause 50 of the Seniors
    SEPP and the floor space ratio development standard within Clause 4.4 of the WLEP and is found to be
    excessive and not compatible with the surrounding locality. The applicant has not provided a Clause 4.6
    written request to justify non-compliance with the floor space ratio;
    d) The proposal does not meet Clause 33(f) of the Seniors SEPP or the aims in subclause 1.2(c)(i) and
    1.2(c)(ii) of the WLEP 2012 as the removal of thirty-five (35) trees (of which five (5) trees are listed on the
    Willoughby Natural Heritage Register) is found to result in adverse impacts on the neighbourhood amenity
    and landscape character of the locality;
    e) The proposed landscape plan is unsatisfactory as it lacks well-sized deep soil areas for suitable canopy
    trees and planting and therefore does not meet the neighbourhood amenity and streetscape requirements
    stipulated in Clause 33 of the Seniors SEPP;
    Reference: DA-2020/240 Page 2 of 3
    f) The Development Application has not provided adequate parking for disabled persons in accordance with
    Schedule 3, Clause 5(a) of the Seniors SEPP;
    g) The Development Application has not provided sufficient information with regards to stormwater
    management, vehicular access and parking.
  2. Pursuant to Section 4.15(1)(e) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, the proposal is not in the
    public interest.
    CONSIDERATION OF COMMUNITY VIEWS
    In coming to its decision, the Panel considered written submissions made during public exhibition and heard from all
    those wishing to address the Panel. The Panel noted that key issues of concern included:
    Seniors SEPP requirements not met:
    Non-compliance with standards of Clause 40 and 50 of the Seniors SEPP
    o Access to facilities requirements not met – Clause 26 of the Seniors SEPP;
    o Vegetation and tree removal;
    o Flora and fauna;
    o Removal of trees listed on the Willoughby Natural Heritage Register;
    o Inadequate landscaping;
    o Design excellence not achieved;
    o Excessive FSR;
    o Traffic and parking;
    o Visual privacy;
    o Solar access;
    o Stormwater management;
    o Site works;
    o Management plans;
    o Acoustic impacts;
    o Design is not in character with the surrounding character and streetscape.
    The Panel considered that concerns raised by the community have been adequately addressed in the assessment report
    and that no new issues requiring assessment were raised during the public meeting.