Wednesday, October 24, 2012

appeal a no go

report from the roundtable – 23 oct

The last meeting of council for this term of councillors turned out to be a much bigger event than the agenda conveyed. The gallery was packed with community members from the Dandenong Ranges (in my reckoning 200 plus), there to urge council to support a Supreme Court appeal in relation to the McDonalds VCAT decision.

In support of the Dandenong Ranges community push for council to lodge a Supreme Court appeal I moved an urgent motion for council to lodge an appeal in relation to the VCAT decision P3933/2011 McDonalds v Yarra Ranges Shire Council and others.

My first challenge was for the motion to be considered urgent, and there was a great deal of urgency around it. This would be the only opportunity for council to hear the matter given the tight timelines around lodging an appeal (it’s due by 6 November).

Contrary to reports on social media, there is no window for a new council to consider the matter. Councillors only become councillors after the statutory meeting on 7 November. Councillors do not have the power to change the date of this meeting. So the meeting last night was the only practical opportunity to raise the issue.

Councillors agreed to hear the motion, which meant I didn’t have to attempt to call a special council meeting for later this week.

In speaking to the motion I talked about the contentious nature of this application, it has broken every record in Yarra Ranges, 1090 objections, 670 attending the council meeting, 320 objectors at VCAT, to me this defines it as the most contentious planning application in Yarra Ranges history. I recalled to councillors that we refused the application unanimously, based on 15 different grounds.

I reminded councillors of our role, to represent the community and we would be doing the community a disservice by not lodging an appeal. I also reminded councillors of the oath we took, “to undertake duties in the best interests of the people”. If the people resoundingly say no, then we should be saying no too.

In summing up I assured councillors that the intent of this motion was in accordance with the Local Government Act and was within the provisions of the caretaker period. I went on to say that the gallery (some 200 plus people) was a small slice of the community and that for every 1 person who was for McDonalds there were 100 against.

We supported the community when we heard the application and refused it unanimously, we need to support them now. With that I urged councillors to support the motion.

Disappointingly the motion was lost, the votes, 3 for and 6 against.
Cr’s Dunn, Cliff and McRae
Cr’s Warren, Cox, Templer, Avery, Higgins and Heenan

I know the Dandenong Ranges community, you will continue the fight and I’ll be there fighting with you.

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At 12:23 PM, Blogger Sue said...

I am so disappointed to read that there is no window for the new council to act. Council has let its constituents down by focussing on fear and on money. How very more of the same :(

At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Nicole said...

At least we tried ....... Heart broken ...

At 4:51 AM, Anonymous Tania said...

Samantha, on what basis are you saying councillors have no power to change the statutory meeting? I am asking because the councillors in my municipality changed it at a meeting last week. I queried this with a council officer and was told they could because it was considered part of general business.

At 11:11 PM, Blogger Samantha Dunn said...

according to legal advice we received, only the CEO has the power to set the Statutory Meeting in which councillors take the oath.


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