TOWN Hall was packed to the rafters Wednesday night as councillors endorsed a long term transport strategy which emphasises walking, cycling and public transport, voted against protecting five trees in what could be the oldest war memorial of its kind in the state and unanimously supported a plan for Bendigo to become the first Australian city with an official Tartan emblem.
But none of those were the reasons many sat in the public gallery.
Two speakers in question time asked Councillor James Williams if “rumours” he was promoting halal certification were true and mayor Peter Cox was grilled for alleged slurs made about residents of a suburb in Bendigo.
For the record, Cr Williams answered with an emphatic “no” while the mayor denied the accusations.
Neither convinced some members of the gallery, however, who stormed out after question time and so missed what one councillor described as “the most important piece of strategic planning in the recent history of this council.”
Head of the Integrated Transport and Land Use Strategy (ITLUS) steering committee, councillor Rod Campbell, said the decision to adopt the plan would be felt over the next “20, 30 and 40 years.”
“Visualise another 80,000 people in Bendigo, the roads aren’t going to get any wider, the buildings aren’t going to vapourise,” he said as he urged his fellow councillors to vote for ITLUS.
“We need a bold plan, and that’s what this is.”
But while the environment might have won with ITLUS, advocates for five historic trees at the former East Bendigo State School – National Trust Victoria among them – will be disappointed by the council’s decision not to include the trees as part of a heritage overlay for the site.
Cr Campbell described a new memorial at the site as a “pragmatic compromise,” saying the trees were for all intents and purposes, in need of “total renewal”.
On Tuesday, the National Trust wrote to councillors saying new research it had conducted found the East Bendigo Avenue was the first and oldest planted Avenue of Honour in Victoria.
Rod Fyffe was the only councillor to vote against adopting the overlay which did not include the trees. The former mayor said he did support proposal, until he received the letter.
“It changed my mind,” he said.
9.10pm: Full story to come, that’s it from the meeting.
8.59pm: Councillors wrapping things up with a report on recent activities.
8.42pm: Cr Lyons to apply to replace Cr Ruffell on the Board of Bendigo Stadium Limited (BSL) as she will resign taking effect on the date of the next BSL Annual General Meeting in October.
8.39pm: Councillors vote unanimously to return cast iron objects to National Trust but retain the cast Iron conservatory. Background from agenda:
“A collection of Cast Iron objects on a 50 year loan to City of Greater Bendigo (2001- 2051); and a Cast Iron conservatory that was gifted to the City of Greater Bendigo by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) in 2001.”
“The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) has asked for both the objects and conservatory to be returned to them.”
8.30pm: ‘Women showing the way motion’ passed passed unanimously, no speakers against.
8.26pm: Cr Leach says Bendigo will be first Australian town with Tartan emblem officially recognised by the Scottish Tartan Authority in the United Kingdom.
Motion passed unanimously, no speakers against.
8.21pm: Onto Bendigo’s Tartan design!
8.20pm: Item ‘3. Presentation and Vibrancy’ carried with no speakers or votes against.
8.15pm: ITLUS carried with Cr Leach sole vote against.
8.15pm: Cr Ruffell says bikes and walking not an option for everyone.
“Why not have a look at our trams?” she asked councillors.
“We had a great tram system and it needs our support.”
8.12pm: Cr Chapman speaks in favour of ITLUS, says it can tackle childhood obesity and traffic on roads.
“As the only councillor here with school-age children I’d encourage parents to teach their children to ride safely and ride with them until they are confident.
“Believe in your kids and let them do it.
“I had to do it growing up,” she said, to agreement from the gallery.
8pm: Councillor Leach speaks against ITLUS.
“Stranger danger is not bunkum and to get trucks double handling… well good luck,” she said, referring to plans to get more children to commute to school on foot, bike or scooter and have a freight hub on the outskirts of town which would break down big loads to smaller trucks.
7.54pm: Cr Campbell cites White Hills Primary School active travel pilot program as a glimpse into future under ITLUS. Read about the pilot here: http://bit.ly/1JiJb7w
7.51pm: Cr Campbell, who headed ITLUS steering committee, says it is “most important piece of strategic planning in the recent history of this council”… whose effects will “carry on for the next 20, 30 or 40 years”.
“Visualise another 80,000 people in Bendigo, the roads aren’t going to get any wider, the buildings aren’t going to vapourise…
“We need a bold plan, and that’s what this is.”
7.48pm: Councillors now discussing ‘Connecting Greater Bendigo: Integrated Transport and Land Use Strategy (ITLUS)’.
See the report:
7.43: ‘Private planning scheme amendment policy’ endorsed unanimously.
7.42pm: See council agenda:
7.41pm: Cr Chapman leaves the room for her second conflict of interest as council moves on to ‘private planning scheme amendment policy’.
7.40pm: Section ‘2.3 private planning scheme amendment policy review’ carried with Cr Leach the sole vote against.
7.25pm: Motion on Avenue of Honour carried with Cr Fyffe sole vote against.
“It is disappointing we received [NTA] information late, it did rock me,” said Cr Williams summing up.
“It is a significant and the establishment of a monument will renew the site”.
7.20pm: Councillor Rod Fyffe says he did support proposal until today, when he received the letter from the National Trust [see below].
“It changed my mind,” he said.
7.16pm: Councillor Rod Campbell says Avenue of Honour proposal a “pragmatic compromise.”
“[The trees] are, for all intents and purposes, in need of total renewal… but it does require a commemoration.
“If the [state] government wants more [than a plaque] they should buy the land… and provide funds for its upkeep.”
7.10pm: Recommendation on heritage overlay of Avenue of Honour at the former East Bendigo State School.
Cr Williams refers to letter from National Trust Victoria which reveals avenure may be first and oldest of its kind in Australia.
The Bendigo Advertiser has a copy of this letter:
7pm: First recommendation carried despite Cr Leach voting against the Flora Hill development.
Councillor Lisa Ruffell says it is the training centre will offer skills for local youths in everything from cooking to computers.
“What more could we want,” she said. “It is win-win.”
Cr Chapman was not in the room due to a conflict on interest.
6.41pm: Councillor Helen Leach says council’s transport plan for future ‘ITLUS’ which encourages school students to walk ride or scoot to school “easier said than done”.
Cr Leach says roads in Strathsfieldsaye to busy and dangerous.
More on ITLUS: Council unveils transport plan for Bendigo
6.36pm: Cr Chapman declares two conflicts of interest, one involves demolition of building at Flora Hill for defamation case, second for structure plan at Marong. The first due to a defamation case, the second because she had asked to have it brought forward.
No other declarations made.
6.26pm: Fifth questioner asks Councillor James Williams if “rumours” he has been promoting halal certification are true.
“No,” he responded.
6.20pm: Third question regards petition to get council to rethink its organic waste pick up trial.
6:15pm: Second questioner berates council for “bullying of Councillor Elise Chapman and suggests she refer Mayor Cox to Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) for alleged comments calling some Bendigo residents “hateful low-income people who can’t use words or phrases”.
More on Cr Chapman: http://bit.ly/1MMyAXc
6.10pm: First quest regarding regards Kangaroo Flat Leisure Centre.
Mayor Peter Cox says “firm decision already made”.
Read more on issue: http://bit.ly/1hdVdaP
6pm: Good evening. We’re broadcasting tonight’s council meeting live via Periscope. Council is underway, and we’ll be keeping you updated throughout the night.
Reporter Joseph Hinchliffe will be tweeting and posting a live video on Periscope of the council meeting from 6pm.
Follow him on @joe_hinchliffe
On the agenda tonight:
Councillors will vote on the ‘Connecting Greater Bendigo: Integrated Transport and Land Use Strategy (ITLUS)’.
Read more: Council unveils transport plan for Bendigo
Councillors will vote on an updated heritage overlay Avenue of Honour at the former East Bendigo State School.