We will be keeping a close eye on Hunters Hill Council returning in 2022, and we expect there will be further events when it will be useful to make your opinion heard.
Election 4 December 2021
As the election is getting closer, we are seeing a lot of comments on social media and in candidates’ distributed marketing material.
We have been watching Hunters Hill Council since 2013, and have paid attention to how they have handled the planning and development of the Gladesville Shopping Village site during events from 2012 onwards.
It is useful to share some facts and opinions that we think are relevant to Gladesville, and the whole of Hunters Hill Council.
1) Membership of political parties is not new in Hunters Hill Council. The only thing that has changed is that Zac Miles sought and received endorsement from the Liberal Party, and now stands for Council election identifiably as a Liberal Party member. Liberal Party members previously ran as “Independents”, which made it hard to tell an Independent from an Independent.
2) The management of Gladesville during the 2017 to 2021 term has received greater transparency and investment in planning than the period 2013-2016, or the period prior which saw the heritage listing of 10 Cowell Street removed from the 2012 Local Environmental Plan (LEP) in 2012 (after it was listed in the Draft LEP). The agreement to dispose of 10 Cowell Street by selling it to the owner of Gladesville Shopping Village (GSV) with development ambitions was agreed (by option deeds) in 2013 and the sale went through in 2016. There was no public consultation and there was no tender. Communities around Figtree Park in Hunters Hill where a park upgrade is planned, and Boronia Park where a Sports and Community Facility is to be built have both all had the opportunity to give input into what happens BEFORE the deal was done. Gladesville did not receive that opportunity with the disposal of public land without public consultation or tender in 2013 to 2016, to facilitate massive development on the GSV site after removing heritage protection to 10 Cowell Street that Council had exhibited in its draft LEP 2012.
3) Preferences are likely to decide the election. In the 2017 election the Mayoral candidate with the highest primary vote for Mayor did not become Mayor, because the two other ‘Groups’ cross-preferenced each other. ‘Groups’ are ‘tickets’ of candidates in north and south ward who support a particular mayoral candidate, just like any other political party or group supporting an identified leader. There were 3 ‘Groups’ in the 2017 election, and there are 4 ‘Groups’ in the 2021 election. There has been politics in every Council since elections first started, and convenient claims and partial truths are often used to manipulate sentiment. If you like a candidate, vote for them. If you agree with who they say you should vote “2” for in their ‘how to vote’ cards then do so, but if you don’t agree with their preferences then just vote according to your beliefs. We expect that candidates do preference deals or choose where to direct preferences based on overlaps in policy, but there are so many aspects to each candidate’s policy mix that what you actually like about one candidate won’t necessarily mean you should support where they direct their preferences.
4) No ‘Group’ (or Mayoral candidate) has said they will support amalgamation of Hunters Hill Council with other Councils. There is no ‘pro amalgamation’ candidate. That is disappointing for some people, but that is the situation.
5) As we have been operating since 2013, we have wished for (i) better and more transparent planning for Gladesville, particularly to mitigate the adverse impacts of the high development that Hunters Hill Council zoned Gladesville for in 2012, and (ii) to fix the roads, footpaths, drainage and other infrastructure assets for which there has been a massive backlog for a long time. Regarding (i), at the first meeting of the current term which started in 2017, Councillors Zac Miles and Ross Williams (who ran for Council on opposing ‘Groups’) jointly moved a motion that a revised Master Plan for Gladesville be developed. It was long overdue and we are grateful that they led that improvement at the start of the new term of Hunters Hill Council, which had spent the previous 2013-2016 term selling off our public land but demonstrating no visible commitment to improved planning where the development is to be concentrated. Regarding (ii), on 11th February 2019 Councillors Zac Miles and Ben Collins moved a motion# (copied below) that Hunters Hill Council commit to bringing its roads and footpaths up to an acceptable standard, but that motion was defeated 2-5 when Councillors Mark Bennett, Elizabeth Krassoi, Justine McLaughlin, Jim Sanderson, and Ross Williams voted against the motion.
Council does get involved in a lot of other issues. We have prioritised proper planning and asset management as the two key functions that Council needs to improve. They are responsibilities of Council that nobody else can perform if Council is failing. There are government and non-government organisations that can support many other functions that Councillors focus on, but nobody else can fix Hunters Hill Council’s roads and footpaths, and nobody else can take responsibility for proper planning to mitigate the adverse impacts of the over-development coming to Gladesville.
There have been hundreds of hours spent in Council meetings during the last term. We cannot possibly summarise fairly the performance or the position of all returning candidates on all issues, let alone unwind the political games, sending issues off to report-land instead of making decisions, deflecting issues to make them arguments against the NSW government, and all the other things we see from Hunters Hill Council.
* Please vote on 4 December or earlier at pre-polling. * Please number ‘Groups’ after your preferred Mayoral candidate onwards IF you actually support those candidates, or just do not number them past your first choice if you do not want to.
# The Motion from 11 February 2019 – defeated as referred above Notice of Motion 1. That Council adopts a policy of restoring sealed roads, footpaths, kerbs and guttering, and other road assets to the agreed level of service set by council; 2. That Council adopts a policy of budgeting for all required maintenance and restoration costs on infrastructure assets in the annual budget delivered each year; 3. That Council undertakes a review of all infrastructure assets and brings back a report to Council in March outlining the estimated costs to bring all infrastructure assets to a satisfactory standard.