Council drags chain while horse bolts

By KIERAN FINNANE

 

 

The horse had bolted: while the Town Council was mulling over the issues and deciding to send a letter to the Minister, the Development Consent Authority approved, with conditions, two proposed telecommunications towers in Araluen.

 

Councillor Jade Kudrenko, who has been trying to represent constituents’ views opposing the siting of the towers, last night expressed her frustration with council’s slowness while the DCA’s process had rolled on. She also expressed her disappointment that Telstra, due to send a deputation to speak with council last night, failed to appear.

 

At right:  Cr Kudrenko, here introducing The Greens’ NT Senate candidate, Warren H Williams.

 

Acting CEO and Director of Technical Services Greg Buxton explained council’s limited scope for objection to development proposals: council can only formulate objections around local roads impacts and stormwater drainage. Cr Kudrenko said nonetheless Telstra should have been “called to the table” to hear council’s views.

 

During the public exhibition period, there were three submissions from the public opposing the tower on Larapinta Drive, while there were 14 opposing the tower in Diarama Close, one of which was a petition with 46 names.

 

At left: The lot labelled “C” (light aqua) is the site adjacent to Diarama Close where the 30 metre high “monopole and antennae” will be built, together with equipment shelter and fencing.

 

Based on Cr Kudrenko’s comments, it seems that concerns related mainly to residents’ “ruined views and amenity”. According to the DCA Minutes included in the council business papers, the DCA anticipates, in both instances, “some adverse impact on the visual amenity of the adjoining street and some properties in the locality, but does not expect the facility to be incompatible with the streetscape and surrounding development”. This has however has been outweighed by their consideration of “the benefit” to the community of “improved mobile telecommunication processes” (see our recent report on the current system overload).

 

Tussle over busking in the mall

 

On another matter that had been let slide, Cr Kudrenko put forward a Notice of Motion last night. This was to formalise something councillors had already agreed upon but that had not gotten through to the administration, that is, allowing buskers in Todd Mall a permit of longer duration. Till now they had to renew their permits every month.

 

Mysteriously, between Cr Kudrenko circulating her notice of motion last Thursday and yesterday, the permit form had changed, from one month to six months’ duration.

 

Mayor Damien Ryan seemed particularly interested in the issue. Cr Kudrenko said she had acted in response to a request from Cain Gilmour, a lecturer in music at CDU, who thought short-term permits were off-putting to local performers and music students. Mayor Ryan had “researched” the matter: 75 permits had been issued last year and there didn’t seem to be any “young students” among them. In any case, the permit now allowed six months. But that had only happened since she raised the matter, said Cr Kudrenko.

 

Mayor Ryan seemed to want her to drop the motion, but Cr Kudrenko stuck to her guns. She had called reception that morning and been told the duration was only one month. If the motion formalised council’s position, it would make everything clearer.

 

Meanwhile Alice Springs News Online had questioned Cr Kudrenko over another aspect of her Notice of Motion. In outlining her reasons for it, she had written: “Buskers bring with them culture, colour, entertainment and creative expression. They can enhance the experience locals and tourists have in the Todd Mall.”

 

At right: Busking in the mall, it’s free, but painters selling their wares must pay. Photo from our archive.  

 

The News asked her why this does not apply also to artists in the mall, with paintings for sale? Buskers are allowed to peddle their wares – performance – for free, while painting sellers must pay $200 a year, or pro rata for three and six-month periods.

 

Cr Kudrenko replied: “If painting sellers have concerns I’d be very happy to hear from them and represent any issues they raise. The information I have received from the Director CCS [Corporate and Community Services] is that ASTC has a healthy uptake of permits to sell artworks in the Mall and that the annual or quarterly fee options has not had any recent complaints.

 

“I believe when the determination regarding this permit’s duration and fee was undertaken council tried to find a fair balance so the permit was affordable and that potential competition to existing Mall traders was taken into account.

 

“Ensuring artists continue their trade in the Mall is important for the same reasons as encouraging buskers so if any artist have concerns or ideas I’d be very happy to hear from them.”

 

According to last night’s business papers, eight permits were issued to painting sellers in the month of June, compared to three last year for the same month. One person was fined ($282.00) for selling goods without a permit in a public place (it is not clear whether this was a painter in Todd Mall).

 

Water waste, water savings

 

A deputation that did turn up was from Alice WaterSmart and the Power and Water Corporation. All councillors who spoke congratulated them on the 1600 million litres of water savings they had identified, 500 million litres in private homes.

 

Of the 1000 homes that had a Water Efficiency Consultation, one in three had a water leak, which was wasting over 250 kilolitres on average per home. This is more than the average Australian household uses, project manager Les Seddon told the council.

 

He praised the performance of council’s Works Manager Scott Allen whose efficiency measures are contributing 80 million litres worth of savings per annum. Mr Allen can now switch sprinklers on and off from his office, said Mr Seddon.

 

Higher quality recycled water will come online for users south of the Gap by the end of September.

 

“Wow!” said Cr Chansey Paech. All this was “astonishing and very satisfactory”.  He welcomed particularly the possibility of using recycled water for council assets, such as the cemetery.

 

Cr Eli Melky said he had been resistant and skeptical at first  but the project had turned out to be “very productive” for the community.

 

Mr Seddon put all his good news in the context of a water resource that is considered to be essentially “non-renewable” with the town’s extraction of it seen as “mining”.

 

Cr Steve Brown, well known for his dissenting views on this issue, last night held his fire.

 

 

In confidential

 

All committees had confidential sessions listed on the agenda last night, with no information whatsoever regarding their content. This is as usual.

 

But a report from the infrastructure unit referred to a separate report in confidential on the asbestos found in the library air-conditioning. The News asked Mr Buxton, as Acting CEO determining the agenda of the meeting, why that report was in confidential.

 

It was there because he considered it should be until the matter is resolved, said Mr Buxton. He went on to say that council is not hiding anything about the issue (it has made media announcements), but is collecting all the facts before making a report in the open section of the end of month meeting.

 

The News asked under what part of the Act the decision was made to keep the information in confidential.

 

It was “pursuant to” Regulations 8 and 9 of the Local Government (Administration) Regulations, said Mr Buxton on prompting from his colleague Craig Catchlove. (Regulation 8 contains four different classes of information, one with four sub-classes – take your pick.)

 

Cr Kudrenko pointed out that there was in fact no report about the asbestos in the confidential papers. This was “very confusing”, she said. Mr Buxton said his report would be verbal, as the updated information had not been to hand in time for a written report.

 

Cr Geoff Booth wanted to know why local contractors had not been hired to remove the material. Mr Buxton said local contractors were not licensed to handle “friable asbestos” (as opposed, the News understands, to asbestos bonded with another material such as cement).

 

Statue no show

 

Meanwhile, the no show of the John McDouall Stuart statue is becoming a regular feature of Technical Services monthly updates. A location has been identified, heritage approval sought and given and numerous letters sent to the Freemasons who controversially gifted the giant statue to council, but there has been no reply.

 

At left: The statue during its temporary unveiling on the Civic Centre lawns  in 2010. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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