Roseville Station Footpath Success

You are looking at the happiest ward councillor in Roseville. 🎉🎉🎉

Back in August 2017 I received a phone call from a lady complaining about the footpath immediately outside Roseville Station. It was a high traffic area but paved with really crappy bitumen. Uneven, rocky, large pools of water in the rain, and very unsafe. She had spoken to both of the Roseville Ward councillors before my time (including the mayor) and neither of them were able to produce any outcome, so she hoped that I could make a difference.

I’ve been trying to get this fixed for the last four years and there were technical reasons for the delay, but to my pleasant surprise when I walked past this morning at 1:30am on the way to inspect another issue, I saw that work has been underway. No more crappy and dangerous bitumen, we now have the proper asphalt footpath that our residents deserve.

What’s happening at Ku-ring-gai?

Residents and journalists have asked me to comment on what’s happening at Ku-ring-gai. At this stage I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to say much other than the following.

1) The same five councillors have not attended council meetings in October, on eight separate occasions. Because of the lack of quorum (six councillors required out of ten), council has been unable to meet and conduct business.

2) I have attended each time that we tried to meet.

3) Meetings were available for attendance via Zoom. I attended one of the occasions on my iPad at a park. Another occasion clashed with a family reunion so I attended via Zoom from a separate room.

4) I’m disappointed that we cannot get through some of the big agenda items for October such as Lindfield Village Hub, pedestrian bridge, basketball and netball facilities, various project tenders, net zero, Trucks on Pacific Highway, etc. Some of these things will have to be decided by the next council in February as caretaker period starts soon.

5) There’s a lot more behind the scenes than what the public knows, and things are not always black and white.

6) At this stage I do not think it’s appropriate for me to make any further comments. I didn’t call for any of these meetings and I’m not the council spokesperson.

7) I might be moderating this post and page as I don’t want to be held responsible for defamatory comments made by others.

Tonight’s Vote: Basketball and Netball Facilities

I recently visited The Glade at Wahroonga to check out its fantastic outdoor basketball facilities. All five hoops were in use with various groups walking from afar to catch up with their friends and stay physically and mentally fit.

Unfortunately we don’t have anything like this in the Roseville, Lindfield and Killara area. The closest is at Allan Small in Killara and even then it’s only two hoops so if the big kids occupy them then the little kids have no chance to play.

Tonight I am putting forward a motion to increase the number of hoops in the area from 5 to at least 12 and I’ve targeted some quick win options which should have a low impact on surrounding residents such as Tryon Road and Lindfield Library. The target is set but ultimately it is up to council staff to propose the final locations and report back to council by March 2022.

The vote will also cover the topic of provision of netball facilities in Lindfield. At the moment the options for netball training are limited and it’s not helped by council implementation of its booking system, where sometimes tennis bookings boot netball off the only courts they have access to when there are plenty of other under-utilised tennis courts in the area.

Green Hydrogen vs Blue Hydrogen

Today the NSW Government announced plans to invest up to $3b in the Green Hydrogen Industry. So what is Green Hydrogen and why is it important?

We currently rely on fossil fuels such as petrol and gas to power our transportation, domestic and industrial needs. Burning fossil fuels increases our carbon emissions as well as some carcinogens so it’s not that good. But if we burn pure hydrogen gas, the otuput is clean water as opposed to carbon dioxide and it’s much better for the environment.

So why aren’t we using hydrogen now instead of fossil fuels? That’s because the technology to create hydrogen has not yet reached significant commercial scale and it requires further investment.

Creating hydrogen involves the splitting of water molecules (H2O) to hydrogen and oxygen. Energy is required as part of the electrolysis process, so that’s where Renewable Energy (Green Hydrogen) or Fossil Fuels (Blue Hydrogen) come into play. Note that Hydrogen by itself isn’t necessarily that great; what we really want is the Green Hydrogen that comes from Renewable Energy.

There are some technical challenges to conquer before Green Hydrogen reaches commercial scale so it is very encouraging to see the (Liberal) State Government commit to this $3b investment. Some of the biggest questions remain such as whether we have sustainable water sources to create the hydrogen (a bit difficult during a drought unless we use seawater) and whether we have enough excess renewable energy during the daytime to produce the hydrogen.

Green Hydrogen is just one of the technologies which will help us achieve Net Zero as soon as possible.

Lessons from Lockdown

While it’s unfortunate that we’ve had to protect our loved ones through the lockdown process, we’ve also been forced to innovate and find better ways of doing things. One such benefit is the increased adoption of platforms such as Zoom, Teams and FaceTime which allow us to work remotely while reducing our carbon footprint.

This week our council attempted to meet on three separate occasions to discuss a very serious matter, and with Zoom we had the flexibility of meeting at home, in the council chambers, or even while outside such as during a picnic. On all three occasions, it was unfortunate that five councillors happened to not be available to connect on Zoom, and without a quorum (6 required) we were unable to carry on with the council agenda. What’s especially bizarre is that we see some of these councillors actively posting on social media these last few days but then they are somehow unable to connect to Zoom via their phone, tablet or laptop, or desktop computer.

As for the specifics of this agenda item, as I mentioned in a previous post, it’s not appropriate for me to comment on this further at this point in time because I didn’t call for the meeting, because I am not the council’s spokesperson, and because of the confidentiality attached to the agenda item.

Lindfield Village Hub Update (Good News)

I know the incredible frustration that members of the public feel when the council papers talk about the Lindfield Village Hub but the entire thing is marked as confidential. In fact sometimes in the past when I do not genuinely believe that the entire paper should be confidential, I have protest voted against the call for confidentiality.

However on this particular occasion of the October Council Meeting, I wholeheartedly believe that the report should remain confidential. The report describes some of council’s negotiations with potential interested parties, offers some hope that the project can be viable, and reflects on how the recent downturn did have a short term impact on various parties’ willingness to participate. Some more information has been made available on the council website, which I will copy and paste below.

PURPOSE OF REPORT: To update Council on the outcomes of the ongoing LVH procurement negotiations and to outline next steps.

BACKGROUND: On 20 July 2021 Council considered a revised market engagement strategy for the LVH project. Having considered the strategy, Council resolved to continue negotiations.

COMMENTS: The initial stage of the negotiations has now been undertaken, with a number of proposals received. Analysis of the proposals suggests that a viable commercial outcome for the project may be possible. The results indicate a significant turnaround from the offers received during the 2020 tender and post tender negotiations.

That Council:
A. Note the significant improvement in market conditions, sentiment and commercial responses since the 2020 tender and post tender negotiations.
B. Continue to progress negotiations.

Big Agenda for the October Council Meetings

For the Ordinary Meeting of Council (19/10) we are voting on 33 items. I haven’t had the chance to read through the details yet but for me the five highlights are:

C1/GB22 – Lindfield Village Hub; a confidential item proposing a way forward with negotiations for construction as well as the consideration of a planning proposal

GB24 – School Infrastructure NSW and Ku-ring-gai Council; a proposal to meet monthly with the Department of Education to explore ways of improving the utilisation of public assets

GB25 – Cities Race to Zero; an opportunity to consider joining the COP26 Race to Zero initiative (which also includes the recognition of a climate emergency), I’m curious to see how councillors will vote

NM2 – Basketball and Netball Facilities in Roseville, Lindfield and Killara; my proposal to take practical steps to delivering the facilities that residents have asked for

NM3 – Saving Bates Park; our second motion to Save Bates Park after the first one was delayed by councillors three months ago

In addition to the Ordinary Meeting of Council we also have an Extraordinary Meeting of Council (09/10) that’s been called by two other councillors. It is a confidential item with the topic of “Appointment of General Manager“. Because of the confidentiality, because I didn’t call for the meeting, and because I am not the council’s spokesperson, it’s not appropriate for me to comment on the matter at this point in time.

The Missing Footpath and the Temporary Solution

For over forty years the residents of Roseville Chase have been asking for a footpath to be installed at Babbage Road and it’s not difficult to understand why. On one side we have a cliff face and on the other side we have a narrow ledge. This road is the only way in and out of the area and without even a nature strip, all residents (including our school children) have no choice but to walk on the road to access the shops and public transport.

Council’s annual spend on new footpath construction is approximately $1.0m pa however due to the technical complexity of building this particular footpath (involving relocation of critical infrastructure), the cost (of at least a quarter of a million), the relatively low volume of users, and its distance from shops, transport hubs, schools and aged care, this particular footpath upgrade has consistently been low in the footpath priority list. I have been lobbying internally each year for this footpath to be built but it is ultimately an operational decision that is usually outside the influence of councillors.

This area is also known to have high speed vehicles and residents genuinely fear that one day someone walking on the road (not by their own choice) will get hit. I raised the issue with council staff and asked surely, there must be something that we can do at reasonable cost. If not a footpath, then at least some speed cushions to encourage vehicles to slow down around the bend. Staff consulted with local residents on potential locations for speed cushions and based on their feedback, the location of three sets of cushions and concrete barriers was established to encourage people to drive with care.

It’s sad that we had to resort to this (instead of a footpath), but it’s what could be achieved at low cost for now. I will continue to lobby internally for a footpath but for the time being I know that our residents are just a bit safer.