Fees a penalty

The recent article regarding the introduction of credit card parking machines in Bendigo is quite remarkable considering the inordinate number of letters which have been written over the last couple of years which clearly state that parking fees are a pet hate of shoppers.
Council’s Safe and Healthy Environment Manager, Caroline Grylls is reported to claim that this initiative is a response to community demand for more flexible and convenient parking payment options, however the truth appears to be far from that if Ms Grylls reads the Bendigo Weekly regularly.
People hate paying parking fees for street side parking in the city as they see it as a penalty to undertake a simple trading transaction.
We, the consumer, have a desire to purchase a product or service from the people entrepreneurial enough to set up their businesses in the CBD and in turn those traders pay rates and fees to council in order to maintain the streetscape and administer the city.
I can be all but certain that this initiative did not come up in a “safe and healthy environment meeting” but instead it was likely raised in a “budget and revenue meeting” and therein the point was lost on those attending.
Council needs to be reminded that in order to make ends meet in managing its budget, raising more money is not the only option.
Cutting expenditure works too: ask any aged pensioner for confirmation of that point.

Stephen Colbert,
Wedderburn

 

The Steve Bracks legacy

Friday, July 20: The 7.10am from Epsom pulled away on time from Bendigo to Melbourne and remained on time until the dreaded Steve Bracks single track and loop between Castlemaine and Malmsbury and then stuck in the Taradale loop waiting for a delayed Bendigo-bound train.
The Bendigo-bound train was 10 minutes late and as the Melbourne-bound train progessed it became more late, so by the time it reached Southern Cross Station it was 20 minutes late.
Both the Liberal party and especially the Labor party have completely shied away from fixing the issue of the single track and loops from Bendigo to Kyneton.
Even though respective councils along the rail corridor have advocated and lobbied the Liberal and Labor governments, they appear immovable on the issue of duplicating again the line between Bendigo and Kyneton.
It gives the appearance, that if the Labor party decided to re-duplicated the line, it would be an admission of guilt and political stupidity to have reduced the line to a single line with passing loops in the first place.
The Andrews government can have all the grand plans with the endorsement of the parliamentary representative for East Bendigo, Minister for Major Projects and Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan with sky rail, metro rail, crossing removal, station upgrades, station car park extensions, an elevator at Bendigo station but finds it impossible to recognise that the Bendigo to Kyneton needs to be re-duplicated.
The Bendigo to Kyneton single track and passing loops was a cost-cutting exercise initiated by the Brack’s Labor government and has been an absolute debacle.

Scott Ramsay,
Strathdale

 

Good luck George

Congratulations Cr George Flack for getting front and centre attention for his call to open up Hargreaves Mall to one-way traffic.
It seems like a no-brainer, but I doubt he’ll get the numbers to make this a reality; some would rather throw more good money after bad with “remedies that add colour, softness and shade”, with pop up food stalls or tiny shops.
These won’t fix the low occupancy rate and other problems making the mall a place where shoppers don’t want to go. Good luck George.

Helen Leach,
Bendigo

 

No safeguard

I write in reply to the letter “Trail clarity” Bendigo Weekly, July 13, about the mountain bike trail network plan for the Bendigo Regional Park.
Councillor O’Rourke says the draft master plan was released last September “for public consultation”.
For comment, maybe, but the consultation process had taken place already. $89,000 of ratepayers’ money was spent on hiring two consultants: World Trails from Cairns and Practical Ecology from Melbourne.
They consulted only one community group, the Bendigo Mountain Bike Club. Why weren’t the local people who know this forest intimately spoken to?
“Council has undertaken a lengthy consultation process… since this time” asserts Cr O’Rourke.
Rather, due to outrage among the ignored, long established and regular users of the regional park, council hastily organised an invitation only “round table discussion”, a three-hour, one-off event, on a weekday evening, and not all councillors were able to attend.
Yes, there was an environmental report. Unfortunately, it did not consider the 30-year-old Brush-tailed Phascogale Conservation Project of state significance conducted by the Bendigo Field Naturalists in the very woodlands under
consideration.
The previous council commissioned this plan but apparently did not brief the “consultants” to consult local wildlife experts.
Claims that the 52 kilometres of trail will net “$2.89 for every $1 spent” cannot be verified as the ‘business case’ is confidential.
Consideration is not given to the value of the national and regional parks as repositories of biodiversity, environmental services and peace for Bendigo residents.
The retrospective approval of illegitimate tracks is a strange position for a council to even consider adopting.
The “28.09km of existing mountain bike trail” mentioned by the mayor are, in fact, unauthorised tracks responsible for erosion, siltation, destruction of undergrowth and seedlings in a recovering ecosystem of inestimable value to Bendigo in a warming world.
Finally, and perhaps most concerning, councillor O’Rourke suggests that the International Mountain Bicycling Association sets the standard by which we can safeguard our regional park.

Wendy Radford,
South Mandurang

 

Questions remain

The City of Greater Bendigo-driven saga of compulsory acquisition of good Marong food producing land for the use of private developers is over.
However questions remain around what drove the CoGB councillors and staff to pursue this flawed plan with what can only be described as religious zeal.
Compulsory acquisition can only occur for a public purpose. This was not a public purpose.
We must ask was this plan driven by private investors using the council to push their agenda? If so, we must also ask who within the council and its staff were allowing themselves to be the “pushers” and why?
One thing is certain, a lot of public money has been wasted by council deliberately ignoring good legal advice.
The current CEO of CoGB has overseen this fiasco for the last 13 years. As an obviously intelligent and knowledgeable person he must have been aware for some time that a compulsory acquisition can only happen for public purposes.
The only hope council had of getting hold of the land was to try to bully the owners into submission. If this was the tactic used it is
disgraceful.
As the person in charge of advising council and supervising council staff, the CEO must wear the blame for any unconscionable actions.
If any are found only the resignation of the CEO could begin the process of restoring public confidence in Bendigo’s administration.

Harold Hall,
Epsom

 

Re-open the mall

Centuries ago people dreamed of travelling on a flying carpet. Nowadays we travel in air-conditioned aeroplanes in much greater comfort.
The Hargreaves mall is the Bendigo council’s flying carpet – cold, bleak and exposed to the elements.
Years ago malls were superseded by air-conditioned shopping centres but our council is determined to spend whatever it takes to make their flying carpet successful.
If they want a meeting place where people gather and markets are held, then I think that the area in Rosalind Park where the infant welfare centre used to be would be ideal. A kiosk to serve coffee and cakes could be incorporated in the scheme.
If council understands that commerce brings money to Bendigo, then they could re-open the mall to cars and parking, to give access to shoppers as they do at shopping centres like the Bendigo Marketplace.

David Hewitt,
Golden Square