Scottish Hospital Proposals Need More Work

While there is community support for new aged care facilities, development on the Scottish Hospital site must be sensitive to local heritage streetscapes, the remnant rainforest and historic gardens on the site, and the vistas between Paddington and the harbour and city.A large number of Paddington residents contacted me to raise concerns that Presbyterian Aged Care's proposals would result in overdevelopment, inappropriate and unsympathetic design, loss of trees and green landscaping, loss of views and vistas, and traffic impacts.The proposal includes buildings of up to nine storeys high adjacent predominantly two and three storey terrace houses, and the loss of 88 trees. The design fails to complement Paddington's special character, and would detract from the heritage precinct.My submission asked the Planning Minister to reduce the scale of the proposal and protect the important urban forest on the site.My submission is available at or from my Electorate Office.Related information: | Heritage | Open Space & Recreation | Planning & Development | eNews

Councils Need Power to Stop Camping on our Streets

I am concerned about Councils' limited power to prevent backpackers from selling their vehicles and camping on public roads.Local Government's legal power to take action was removed by the State Government in 1993. I have written to the Minister for Roads and the Minister for Local Government asking that they return this power to Councils across NSW.Currently, Councils can put up notices to prohibit activities which can or can't take place in areas such as parks or community land. In our parks for example, there are signs which prohibit camping, driving vehicles and littering. Under the 1993 Local Government Act, Council has no power to prohibit these activities if they relate to the "driving, parking or use of any vehicle…" on a road or road related area.Our rangers issued 3000 fines last year in Victoria Street Potts Point, where backpackers congregate, and began a tow-away operation in late August 2010, with 19 backpacker vehicles towed after repeatedly overstaying the parking time limit.Fifteen of the 19 vehicles have been returned to their owners, but only after the payment of between $400 and $600 each in fees and impounding charges. While these fees and charges have been effective in discouraging backpackers parking their vehicles for longer than allowed, under current legislation there is nothing to stop them moving their vehicles to another part of the street.Council rangers and Police are conducting operations over the coming months looking at the roadworthiness of the vehicles.

Historic Post Offices Face Closure

Vital community services will be harder to access as Australia Post pushes on with plans to close two iconic Post Offices which have served their communities for over a century.Without any prior consultation and limited notification, Australia Post announced late last year that the post offices, in Queen Street, Woollahra and Glebe Point Road, Glebe, would close in February.I strongly oppose Australia Post's decision to close these Post Offices, and share the community's concern at the loss of these important local facilities.While Australia Post has cited falling customer numbers to justify the closures, a recent study carried out by consulting firm Taktics4 revealed that the Glebe Post Office is a major tenant within that village. Loss of such a tenant would have major implications for businesses in Glebe.Removal of these services would be a significant loss of amenity for local residents, many of whom are elderly and who find it difficult to access banking and other services so use the local post office to pay their bills.I have written to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Conroy urging him to stop the impending closures, which have strong community opposition. In response the Minister has asked Australia Post to 'review' its decision.Add your voice to calls to retain the Glebe and Woollahra Post Offices by writing to Senator Conroy, Australia Post Chairman Mr David Mortimer, and Managing Director and CEO, Mr Ahmed Fahour,Come along to the Don't Close Glebe Post Office rally on Thursday 20 January, sign the Save Woollahra Post Office petition, and help ensure community access to local postal services.Information Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy: or Senator, the Hon Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600. Mr David Mortimer, Chairman Australia Post GPO Box 9911, Melbourne VIC 3001 Mr Ahmed Fahour, Managing Director and CEO Australia Post GPO Box 9911, Melbourne Victoria 3001 Don't Close Glebe Post Office rally on Thursday 20 January, 10am outside the Glebe Post Office, 181A Glebe Point Road. The Save Woollahra Post Office petition is available to sign in many shops in Woollahra Village.

Support for Queensland Flood Relief

I share community distress about the tragic deaths and the massive scale of the floods in Queensland, which are now spreading into northern New South Wales. Images in the media have shown us the devastation, personal impact and continuing threat to lives and homes.I have recommended that the City donate $200,000 to the Queensland Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal, which Councillors will consider at an extraordinary meeting proposed for 31 January.I have asked the CEO to prepare a report for the meeting about how the City can provide strong and practical support to affected communities, and we have already offered support and resources to Brisbane City Council, such as clean up crews and vehicles.In recent years, we have given readily to support communities devastated by bushfires in Victoria, earthquakes in China and Haiti, floods in Pakistan and the Tsunami across the Pacific.I am heartened by the willingness of Australians to provide practical, financial and other support to people and communities affected by the floods.I urge you to also consider contributing to the Queensland Premier's Flood Relief Appeal.Information Queensland Premier's Flood Relief Appeal: To make a donation phone 1800 219 028

Sydney Festival Underway

The 2011 Sydney Festival began last Saturday with a successful First Night when people reclaimed city streets and public spaces. Crowds thronged into Hyde Park, Martin Place and the Domain to enjoy the music, dancing and other entertainment on offer.The Festival's expansive free program continues tonight with Summer Sounds in The Domain beginning at 8pm. The Chicano rock band Los Lobos will be joined by e Real Mexico, a Sydney-based, seven-piece mariachi band. Next Saturday the Sydney Symphony Orchestra will be joined by the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and John Bell, Actor and Artistic Director of Bell Shakespeare to present Midsummer Shakespeare.The ANZ Tix for Next to Nix booth is once again operating in Martin Place from 8am to 12 noon each day throughout the Festival. People may purchase $25 tickets for all performances that night, including sold out shows.The Sydney Festival, supported through the City's Major Festivals program, continues until Sunday 30 January.Information Sydney Festival: ANZ Tix for Next to Nix booth, martin Place 8am to 12noon, every day of the Festival.

New Mardi Gras Workshop Opening This Sunday

On Sunday I will open the Mardi Gras Workshop which will be used to prepare floats, costumes and props for the 2011 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.The temporary workshop space, in a Council owned building at 107 Redfern Street, Redfern, will operate for two months.The launch event begins at 12 noon, and the building will remain open until 3pm. New Mardi Gras Board members, staff and volunteers will be available to explain how the workshop space will be used. Potential volunteers and Parade entrants, Mardi Gras supporters and local residents are encouraged to attend.The City purchased the Redfern Street building as long term future site for a community facility. Following Mardi Gras' temporary occupation, it will be made available for community use through the City's Accommodation Grants Program.This is the latest example of the City putting its properties to work for the community, while their permanent use is decided. Other examples include: Reverse Garbage and COFA are now using the former T2 in Darlinghurst, while we develop plans for its future use as a community and cycling hub; Queen Street Studios are managing Heffron Hall as a creative rehearsal space, while Council determines its long term future use; and A City owned building at 90 Regent Street, Redfern will be used by the Oasis Youth Support Network Program to run a residential program for young people at risk. InformationNew Mardi Gras Workshop Opening: Sunday 16 January, 107 Redfern Street, Redfern launch 12 noon -12,30pm, building open until 3pm.

Looking Forward, Looking Back

I look forward to 2011, which promises to be another challenging and productive year: the NSW election; my continuing work to achieve benefits and action for inner city communities; and the increasingly urgent need to tackle global warming, the most serious challenge faced by our planet.As Lord Mayor and State MP, I remain determined that Sydney shows leadership in addressing the cause and consequences of damaging climate change, particularly given the lack of decisive action from our State and Federal Governments. I am listening to inner city residents who are demanding Government action and leadership to address climate change, and at the City we are responding with action.PARLIAMENTIn Parliament, I continue to focus on getting action and raising issues on behalf of inner city communities. In addition to introducing my bill which allows same sex couples to adopt and my Strata Legislation Amendment Bill, I spoke 45 times in Parliament and asked over 150 questions on topics including alcohol related violence, inner city policing, traffic congestion, urban sustainability, air quality, vehicle noise, inner-city mental health services, mining exploration, cycling safety and homelessness.I supported legislation which: formally recognised Aboriginal people as the first people of NSW in the state constitution, while calling for action to remove discrimination and disadvantage; established a relationships register for same sex couples, will provide urgently needed coordination of all transport planning in NSW, which I have been advocating for many years; made modest improvements to the position of tenants, giving them flexibility and increased protection when relocating; enables dogs to remain with their owners while they have lunch or coffee in alfresco dining areas; and set caps for election donations and expenditure and also supported the Opposition's unsuccessful amendments which aimed to increase transparency, limit donations to individuals and close the loophole that enabled third parties, including unions, to top up parties' campaign expenditure. The passage of my Adoption Amendment (Same Sex Couples) Bill, with cross-parliamentary support, was a historic win. In 2000 all other MPs opposed my amendments to an Adoption Bill 2000 to include same sex couples. Over the following 10 years I continued to advocate law reform through questions in Parliament, lobbying ministers, making a submission to the parliamentary inquiry in support of equal treatment and supporting community campaigns.My Strata Legislation Amendment Bill, developed through comprehensive consultation, aims to improve the position of owner occupiers and tenants of strata properties. I intend reintroducing the Bill when Parliament resumes if I am re-elected.SUSTAINABILITYThroughout 2010 in Parliament I repeatedly promoted action to reduce emissions and improve sustainability. At the City we continue working to create a thriving, sustainable and global Sydney, guided by our Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan. Our commitment to sustainability and reducing greenhouse emissions by 70 per cent on 2006 levels by 2030 guides delivery of projects, services and programs.We are well advanced in planning to deliver essential green infrastructure - efficiently and cost effectively retro-fitting our city with sustainable energy and water supply networks, and better waste management. Central to our plans is a network of gas-fired trigeneration plants which will provide local sustainable energy, heating and cooling.Our interim Trigeneration Master Plan covering the CBD, Barangaroo, Pyrmont/Broadway and Green Square, now on public exhibition, will reduce the City's greenhouse gas emissions by between 1.1 million and 1.7 million tonnes a year.Planning is underway to automate waste collection and use waste from all over Sydney as a valuable resource by converting it to renewable gas to power our energy generation. Already, our household waste goes to an alternative waste facility in western Sydney, where most of the waste is recycled.This year, we will develop a Decentralised Water Master Plan for a network for water collection, recycling and re-use that will supply at least 10 per cent of the City's water from local sources and cut the pollution currently discharged into our Harbour or the Cook's River in our stormwater.At Sydney Park, construction is underway on the $1.3 million first stage of our project to collect 50 million litres of water to replace water lost to evaporation in the wetlands, maintaining healthy water levels for aquatic plants and animals without reliance on drinking water.Sustainable design elements including storm water harvesting, filtering water discharged into our harbour, smart energy management and solar panels are now standard wherever possible in our projects. Raingardens are key to our streetscape improvements in Chippendale, Pyrmont, Darlinghurst and Surry HillsOur libraries and community centres now work as sustainability hubs, providing information and tools for residents to live more sustainably. PowerMates which measure the cost of running appliances and the greenhouse emissions generated can be borrowed from any City library.TRANSPORTIn 2010 we made significant progress in making bike riding a safe and popular transport choice, with the completion of separated bike paths on Union Street, Pyrmont, Kent Street and College Street in the City; Bourke Street from Woolloomoolloo to Redfern; and Bourke Road, Alexandria. These works, together with others underway, provide the first 10km of up to 55km of separated cycleways, in our planned 200km network.The opening of these dedicated cycleways has resulted in a significant increase in cycling numbers. In areas with dedicated cycle facilities the bike numbers doubled and nearly tripled, with a 124 per cent increase on Kent Street to the Harbour Bridge in the CBD, and 167 per cent near the Anzac Bridge! Independent bike counts at 94 intersections in the City between March and October 2010 showed even more dramatic growth: an average 40 per cent increase in the morning (6am-9am), and 29 per cent growth in the afternoon (4pm-7pm).Our bike riding education and promotion campaigns emphasise safety and responsible sharing of public space. Our participation in events such as Ride to Work Day and Spring Cycle also promoted our commitment to cycling. The Watershed at Newtown, jointly managed by the City, established a bike library where people can borrow special cargo-bikes and bike trailers to transport bulky items, children and pets.The City continues to support car share as an increasingly popular sustainable alternative to car ownership. Our review of the program found that car-share schemes reduce the number of car trips and the demand for on-street parking, and our recently exhibited draft car share policy received significant support.During 2009, the City also embraced electric vehicles, with our first on-street electric vehicle charging station in Glebe for use by car share company GoGet, and our first electric fleet vehicles which are charged at Town Hall, where solar panels provide 20% of the building's electricity.Our continued advocacy for light rail bore some fruit in 2010, with the State Government allocating $500 million in its Metropolitan Transport Plan the expansion of the light rail network, including light rail from Central to Circular Quay via Barangaroo and extension of the current route out to Dulwich Hill.The five-year Memorandum of Understanding which the City signed with the State Government in 2010 also opens up opportunities for George Street to be re-imagined as a light-rail and pedestrian boulevard, providing new opportunities for retail and cafes that enliven our whole City. Initial works to implement the memorandum are already underway.PARKS AND PROJECTSThe City continued to improve and increase green open space for our residents and visitors with the renewal of pocket parks and playgrounds in Chippendale, Darlington, Millers Point, Paddington, Wentworth Park in Glebe, Ward Park in Surry Hills, Reschs Park in Redfern, and Victoria Park in Camperdown. The renewed Oatley Road Reserve playground was reopened as Ethel Turner Park, named after the children's author who spent her early years in Paddington.In March, we celebrated the completion of Pirrama Park on Pyrmont Point, which combined the new park on the former Water Police site with the adjacent pre-existing park, providing four hectares of foreshore parkland. The name 'Pirrama' was an indigenous name for the area.Work continues to complete major improvements to Rushcutters Bay Park and Prince Alfred Park in 2011. This year Council will consider the community's response to the draft planning controls for Harold Park which propose preserving a third of the site (3.8 hectares) as public open space.I was proud to lead a strong community campaign to protect Moore Park from a blatant land grab by the SCG, and applaud the State Government's decision to keep it in the hands of the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust. Unfortunately, the threat to Governor Macquarie's legacy, the Sydney Common, continues, with the sale of parts of Queens Park to a private school.In February, Council adopted a Community Gardens Policy which provides guidance and financial support for communities to establish new gardens. We funded several community gardening initiatives including a bush food forest and permaculture garden in Surry Hills, a community garden at the KU Phillip Park Children's Centre, a Co-op Classroom Garden established by the Chippendale Fresh Food Cooperative, planter boxes in Surry Hills and Darlinghurst, and raised garden beds in Paddington.Our grants program also funded Community gardens in James Street in Redfern and Wattle Lane Park, Ultimo During 2010, Council approved $4.7 million in grants and sponsorships, including Local Action Plan and Local Community grants, cultural, business support, environmental and heritage grants.Work to develop a City Farm progressed during 2010, with a feasibility study, currently on public exhibition, recommending Sydney Park in St Peters and the disused Powerhouse Museum car park as preferred locations. Such a farm would provide practical opportunities for Sydneysiders to learn about and participate in sustainable food production.Our parks and other projects continued to win significant National and State awards including awards for Surry Hills Library and Community Centre, Pirrama Park in Pyrmont, Paddington Reservoir Gardens, Redfern Park improvements, Balfour Street Pocket Park in Chippendale, the new Sydney Park amenities building and the restoration of Sydney Town Hall.Our commitment to sustainability, design excellence and community consultation will continue through our projects in 2011, including revitalised streets and new public art in Chinatown, the restoration of the Burton Street Tabernacle as a community theatre, gallery and café, and many more local parks, playgrounds and street improvements.A VITAL AND VIBRANT CITYCoordinated, transparent and accountable planning processes are vital for the future of our City. In September and October 2010, City Plan - our comprehensive draft Local Environmental Plan and Development Control Plan - was endorsed by Council for public exhibition. It is the product of years of detailed work to consolidate and improve planning controls across the City. The Minister has now approved City Plan for public exhibition, which will begin in the coming months.Our rigorous, consultative approach to planning focuses on design excellence, public benefit and sustainability and informs our planning for Harold Park, Green Square and the Goldfields House site in the CBD.Unfortunately, the City's rigorous approach has not occurred with the State Government project at Barangaroo. I worked hard to get the best outcome, but was unable to remain on the Board of the Barangaroo Delivery Authority as my concern grew about the failure to provide accountability and transparency, inadequate consultation, and the rushed process for such a significant and complex project.The City's expert submission on the recently approved Concept Plan amendments found that it will have an unacceptable impact on the quality of the public domain, especially the hotel on the public pier. We put forward an alternative proposal to relocate the hotel, reduce the excessive bulk, which would dominate the City skyline, restrict view corridors and overshadow public space, and I am disappointed the Minister's approval ignored most of these proposals.With the support of the City's expert staff I will continue to work with the community to get better outcomes at Barangaroo, which is vital harbour-side site and could provide an important opportunity for exciting renewal of the western CBD.The City's commitment to economic and cultural sustainability continued with the establishment of a Retail Advisory Panel, the expansion of programs to support small business, and continued support for major cultural festivals and community cultural activities. Art and About in October was a 2010 highlight, with City laneways, monuments, parks and banners transformed with exciting and innovative artworks.Also revitalising our City are more than 30 quirky and interesting small bars that have sprung up in two years since the State Government agreed to the community campaign and my legislation to reform liquor licensing. There is now a more civilised mix with smaller venues.Council will continue targeting rogue and violent premises to promote a safe night for visitors and sanity for neighbours.Inner City communities are vibrant, diverse and welcoming and I continue to work for better support for our most vulnerable residents including homeless people, people with mental illness or drug and alcohol problems, public housing communities and people struggling to afford housing.It is shameful that public housing in the inner city is again under threat as the State Government plans to sell off another 20 homes in Millers Point despite significant community opposition, and my letters, action in Parliament and meeting with Ministers. As MP I organise regular meetings for public housing communities in Surry Hills, Pyrmont, Ultimo and Millers Point and attend community meetings in Woolloomooloo. The City holds meetings for public housing tenants in Redfern, Waterloo and Glebe.The City is the only council in NSW with a dedicated homelessness unit and funds outreach teams and referral services to help homeless people get and keep housing, and access health and welfare services.Three projects underway will make it easier for our key workers to find affordable accommodation in the City. A Glebe Affordable Housing Project and our sale of part the former South Sydney Hospital site to City West Housing will provide over 300 affordable housing units, and a project coordinated by the Inner City Mayors Forum which will identify suitable sites for affordable housing development across inner Sydney.The City continues to lead debate, consultation and conversation with our residents, business and visitors. In 2010 we held 44 community forums and consultations, as well as business forums, small business seminars, sustainability workshops, cycling confidence courses, and dog obedience classes and we invite the community to attend our public committee and council meetings. Our popular and stimulating City Talks continue, with just one 2010 highlight being Janette Sadik-Khan's inspiring presentation about transforming New York's public spaces.I'm tremendously proud of our achievements in 2010. I thank you for your support and look forward to continuing to work with you in 2011

Important Projects and Strategies on Exhibition

Have your say on important projects and strategies on public exhibition during January.Cycleway Improvements: The City continues to install and upgrade safe and connected bike paths to that take people where they need to go and our proposals for improvements to two existing popular routes are now on exhibition.Many riders travel from the inner west to central Sydney via the ANZAC Bridge and a number of improvements are proposed to improve safety and certainty on the shared path from the ANZAC bridge into Pyrmont. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is another popular riding route and improvements to the southern exit will improve safety for pedestrians and bike riders. Submissions close Monday 17 January.Interim Trigeneration Master Plan: Sustainable Sydney 2030 aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70 per cent by 2030. A network of 'Green Transformers' will supply low-carbon electricity and zero-carbon heating and cooling - known as trigeneration.The interim Trigeneration Master Plan is the first of the City's Green Infrastructure Master Plans and it covers four energy dense zones - CBD North/Barangaroo, Southern CBD, Pyrmont/Broadway and Green Square. Have your say by Friday 28 January.Draft concept plan for Fitzroy Gardens and key design directions for Lawrence Hargrave Reserve remain on public exhibition throughout January. Planning for these important parks in the heart of Kings Cross will proceed together to create a vibrant precinct of open space in Australia's most densely populated areas. Make your comments until 31 January.City Farm: The City commissioned a Feasibility Study to research models and sites for a City Farm. The study considers three models and four sites to find how and where a City Farm can work in the City of Sydney. Submissions close Friday 25 February

Festival First Night Reminder

The 2011 Sydney Festival launches tomorrow night as Festival First Night takes over the heart of the City centre with music, dance, movies and cabaret.Now an established event on the City's cultural calendar, Festival First Night will offer entertainment for all tastes across eight sites in Hyde Park and surrounds, Martin Place, the Domain and Chifley Square.Beginning at 3pm, the afternoon and early evening program is oriented towards children and families. In Hyde Park you can join in dancing with Lah Lah's Musical Wonderland, join in a community ukulele play-along or watch movies of early Australian vaudeville on the Hyde Park Silver Screen.Music and vaudeville style entertainment continues through the night in Hyde Park with Eddie Perfect, Nashville's The Dynamitesand iOTA and the cast of Smoke & Mirrors.In The Domain, Emmylou Harris and her Red Dirt Boys will preview her forthcoming Sydney Festival concert at the State Theatre. Earlier, Nukkan Ya Ruby will celebrate the life and music of Australian performers and musicians including Ngarrindjeri singer-songwriter Ruby Hunter, with Paul Kelly, Renee Geyer, Tiddas, Dan Sultan, Amos Roach, Dave Arden and Archie Roach.Live music will also feature in Martin Place and Macquarie Street, with performances including Hanggai from China's progressive music scene, Senegal's Daara J Family, hip-hop collective Arrested Development, Orkestra del Sol TaikOz.At Chifley Square, New Zealand artist Michel Tuffery M.N.Z.M. presents First Contact, a 12-storey high multi-media projection artwork based on Captain Cook's exploration of the South Pacific, with a live soundtrack by DJ Nomad alongside South Pacific dancers and drummers.Refreshments will be available in Cathedral Square, where a large screen will televise the Martin Place entertainment.The Sydney Festival, supported through the City's Major Festivals program, continues until Sunday 30 January.Information Sydney Festival First Night: Saturday 8 January, 2.00pm to 11.00pm at various locations in the CBD. First Night Program: First Night Site Map: Sydney Festival:

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