Dishonesty does nothing for democracy - stick to the facts

I've contested a few elections and each promotes robust and spirited debate, which I welcome. However, this year a number of blatant untruths are being peddled.

Dishonesty does nothing for democracy - let's debate facts not lies. Here are some recent claims and the facts.

CLAIM - In the last eight years the East Sydney/Oxford Street/Darlinghurst/Surry Hills Community has been ignored by this council

FACT - The City of Sydney has spent and is continuing to spend millions of dollars improving East Sydney and Oxford Street.

The historic Burton Street Tabernacle is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation as a 200-seat theatre with gallery and café. Across the road, we're about to begin work on a $5 million refurbishment of Heffron Hall, upgrading community and cultural space for everyone to enjoy.

We've recently provided affordable work space for artists and creative enterprise in Council properties on Oxford Street. Construction is due to begin later this year for new paving and lighting in Foley Street. We've also approved new artist live/work spaces in two large Council-owned properties along William Street.

Designs are being developed with the community for a new $9 million childcare centre in nearby 277 Bourke Street. Kings Cross Library is being upgraded with a new reading lounge, improved children's section and dedicated computer training area. The award winning Surry Hills library is also just a short walk along Crown Street.

Over the past eight years, we've invested $45 million in projects along Oxford Street including public domain improvements such as new paving, wider footpaths and street lighting. The City purchased the former problem venue T2 for community use and established a public art program at Taylor Square.

The City sponsors Mardi Gras every year, has a GLBT project coordinator and produced 'Parade', one of our series of walking tour guides to celebrate local heritage.

We've completed three kilometres of the Bourke Street cycleway including stunning new landscaping linking East Sydney with Woolloomooloo, Surry Hills and Redfern. The work includes wider footpaths, new gardens and street furniture, improved lighting and stormwater treatment, as well as traffic lights at the intersections of Liverpool and Burton Streets.

East Sydney is surrounded by some of Sydney's best green spaces including Hyde Park and the new Harmony Park. We've renewed the local Albert Sloss Reserve and playground, Three Saints Square, Rose Terrace and Barcom Avenue Park. We're systematically upgrading local streets with new landscaping, paving and more street trees.

We improved Stanley Street's cafe hub and our regular Living Colour floral displays include new hanging baskets in the street.

We support the independently run Taylor Square Markets and we've approved over $340,000 for business development projects and activities on Oxford Street, including direct grants to business groups.

In March, we invited every East Sydney resident to a workshop to have their say on future plans for the city's villages and are developing new village plans for further community input later this year.

In June we held a round table forum with key Oxford Street businesses, partnerships, government agencies, institutions, property owners and residents and are developing strong collaboration as a result. Our local business precinct coordinator is working closely with businesses in the area.

CLAIM - The Lord Mayor of Sydney has not told you that Randwick has put $110 million towards ensuring that the Light Rail will not be coming up Oxford Street, nor that traffic volumes on Oxford Street are 22% less than 2003.

FACT - Randwick Council is contributing $100,000 not $110 Million for a pre-feasibility study. Their announcement was heavily publicised at the time.

The NSW Government recently allocated $103 million to investigate an additional route to Randwick. This was also publicly announced.

As Lord Mayor of Sydney I am not responsible for promoting Randwick Council policies.

The State Government is responsible for determining the route for light rail.

I have a long record promoting and advocating for light rail and I strongly support light rail down Oxford Street.

The only reason statistics about traffic volumes can be quoted is because the City's Transport Director discussed research conducted by the City of Sydney at a City of Sydney round table about Oxford Street. And the City put up a proposal for Oxford Street to remove clearways and to introduce a tidal system of changing lanes, as operates on the Harbour Bridge, to take advantage of the decrease in traffic volumes. This proposal was endorsed at the round table.

CLAIM - Instead of providing more parking for locals, they plan, without any consultation, to put a bike lane down Oxford Street in 2014.

FACT - I am on the record calling for the removal of clearways on Oxford to promote a better environment for shopping, more on street parking and light rail.

There is no secret plan for a cycleway in 2014.

There is a long term and very public commitment to link the Bourke Street bike path with College Street to cater for the growing number of riders using the route but any new bike path requires extensive community consultation over many months and sign off from the NSW Government.

The City conducts an enormous amount of consultation before developing any new cycleways. For example, consultation on our Bourke Street cycleway started in 2008 before being officially opened in May 2011 (Woolloomooloo to Waterloo section).

The consultation involved flyers distributed to 22,000 homes, three community information sessions, a community workshop and an information stall at the Surry Hills markets.

We also door-knocked the entire length of the street and provided one-to-one briefings on site.

This resulted in 800 public submissions, the majority of them supported the cycleway.

CLAIM - With service and day-time businesses leaving the area, City of Sydney Council left its massive property, 66 Oxford Street, empty for 6 years! When they finally acted, under extreme community pressure, they installed pop-up tenants on peanut rents without any strategy or vision for the area.

FACT - 66 Oxford Street was being prepared for a supermarket development intended to revitalise Oxford Street, however, during the planning period the project became unviable in part because several new supermarkets opened in the area and because of the global financial crisis.

A year ago, Council endorsed my Lord Mayoral Minute outlining a number of short, medium and long term initiatives to activate the Oxford Street precinct. Since that time significant progress has been made.

As well as cleansing and waste, planter boxes and hanging baskets, events, pop up retail and public art, one of the most visible initiatives has been the activation of City-owned properties, with both creative and commercial tenancies.

Currently, four City-owned retail and 14 office spaces are activated with cultural and creative practitioners and enterprises.

They are breathing new life into the precinct, generating street level activity; providing support and incubation opportunities; and, contributing to the revitalisation of the area and the local economy.

We continue to work with existing tenants and to develop new commercial tenancies, with a number of leases recently renewed and new leases about to start.

This dynamic mix of creative and commercial tenants is attracting positive media and significant economic, cultural and social activity. It is also attracting a broader range of potential tenants into the area.

CLAIM - Because there's no strategy, the much vaunted small bars have no plans of management for what their patrons do on midnight closing; effectively setting them up for conflict with residents.

FACT - The City considers how small bars and residents can co-exist as part of the development process and sets conditions to manage potential impacts.

The City's small bar policies have helped build a more civilised drinking culture and encouraged owners and operators to offer more than just alcohol, such as live music and good food.

Small bars were introduced as a way of diversifying not only the venues but also the participants in the night time economy.

They are smaller, allow for better passive surveillance on alcohol consumption by staff and generally improved application of RSA and more positive control of the in-premise behaviour. Many have restaurants and appeal to those going out for a meal and a few drinks.

CLAIM - Council has $530 Million in the bank and over 1000 paid staff

FACT - In the '90s the City was bankrupt. Over the last eight years this Council has delivered debt free budgets. The money in the bank, much like someone saving for a home deposit, is allocated to future projects. These include the transformation of George Street for light rail, a new library and recreation facilities for Green Square and six new child care centres.

We researched, consulted thousands of people, committed to a plan, prudently saved our money and now we are making it happen.

That's responsible governance.

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