OPENvoice for local government and the community

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By Simon Barnett

On Saturday 22 October 2016, Port Phillip Council elections will be held with changes recommended by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC). The VEC recommendation as approved by the Minister shows nine councillors elected from three three-councillor wards.

The community will be voting under this new ward structure. Not a lot has been said in the media about the changes and not many people are aware of the new structure.

Some think that this maybe a reflection on Port Phillip Council’s consultation process with past projects such as the Town Planning in Port Melbourne, the Albert Park Grand Prix, the Triangle and the recent Acland Street Upgrade in St Kilda.

“It has been a very long road and we have thought very carefully. We’ve consulted widely with our community about [what] the best solution for Acland Street,” said Mayor Bernadene Voss.

Opinions on the Acland St upgrade were many. Trader Harry Zaitman said, “They’ve already decided what they wanted [right] and the consultation is just to justify their decisions really.”

Residents agreed that more consultation was needed. Sally Selby said, “Absolutely more consultation with residents and business owners, yes.”

“You think that they would have made local businesses more aware of this,” said Bradley Balbi.

Palma Smith from the Traders Association was not happy with the way the process was handled. “I don’t think that they did a very good job of it. The times that they gave for traders were not really appropriate times for traders to get away from their businesses so it was very poorly attended.”

“Nobody really came in and explained properly and talk to us. You know some of us don’t have time to turn up to local meetings,” said Trader Jerry Krejcik.

“The Council continually says we consult, we consult, we consult, but what they don’t do is actually develop and communicate a very good education campaign to the retailers and the residents,” said resident Anastasia Kailis.

Kailis believes the Council does not listen and act on that feedback.

But not everybody was unhappy about the process. Resident Julie Suzi Q P Dhol said, “There’s been lots of opportunities for people to get involved and say what they want.”

On the 11th October, OPENvoice Q&A Port Phillip will provide an open forum with a television program format that will be streamed live on the web and allow for discussion and debate on the issues and the impact on local communities and municipalities.

The program will be hosted and mediated by a professional television journalist/presenter and the panel will consist of experts from the community, local government, senior officials and leaders from community groups. Live audience participation will add a vibrant discussion and debate to the event.

The program will focus on the consultation process and involve several past issues the Port Phillip Council have confronted and current ones in the planning.

This is your chance to question your local government about the past and the future.

Would you like to attend or be involved with this event?

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