The Lane Cove Council has delivered another blow to transparent and open government by refusing to change their mind about a virtual public forum where members of the public can make oral submissions.
The Lane Cove Council May Meeting will be held on Monday 18 May 2020 at 7 pm.
The Lane Cove Council will only accept written submissions lodged before the meeting. Unlike some other councils, which offer many ways for the public to have their say, Lane Cove Council will not permit oral submission or make the written submissions public.
Lane Cove Councillors have undertaken to read all written submissions. This puts pressure on our councillors. ITC was advised by several councillors they did not receive public submissions before the last LCC meeting until after 2 pm on the day of the meeting. Many of our councillors have full-time jobs.
Lane Cove Council’s official response to the question of why the public cannot make an oral submission before the meeting is:
“Council is aware of a range of different approaches to Council meetings.
Lane Cove discussed how to proceed and decided on the current method of public submissions whereby they are distributed and heard by Councillors in advance of the meeting.”
What Lane Cove Council fails to realise is that when a person makes an oral submission in the public forum, it is not just for the benefit of councillors. Other Lane Cove residents want to know the issues that impact them.
As the Lane Cove Council is meeting virtually, without a public forum, it’s not the time to discuss contentious issues, particularly if there is no time pressure.
The Lane Cove Council will be discussing Kingsford Smith Oval and the use of that oval for off-leash dog walking. They are debating whether the Council should investigate using Shaw Park Longueville as a new off-leash dog park. This matter was discussed at Lane Cove Council’s March 2020 meeting, and it was resolved to undertake several measures at Kingsford Smith Oval to reduce dog-related incidents at the oval. These measures included launching a trial the Lane Cove Dog Lovers Association.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, restrictions hitting the week following the March Council meeting the Federal Government the trial was not conducted. Gates were to be installed as part of the trial.
At the same meeting, Lane Cove Council officers were asked to report on the feasibility of fitting those gates with an automatic electronic opening device.
Why would you even discuss a matter which is contingent on a trial that never happened?
Lane Cove Council Playground Strategy
The Lane Cove Council Playground Strategy is currently out for public comment. The strategy includes Shaw Park and plans associated with upgrading the equipment in Shaw Park. Why would you discuss a matter at Council that is out for public comment?
Lane Cove Council has advised:
“There is no intention to remove any playground equipment (ie. Slippery dip and two swings – pictured below) at Shaw Park even if further investigations take place regarding a dog park. As such, the playground strategy remains a separate consultation. The decision on whether it is viable and/or appropriate to explore the next steps given the detail in the report will be a matter for determination by the Councillors.”
Again Lane Cove Council is missing the point. Why seek comment on upgrading equipment when you have not disclosed that you intend to position the equipment near an off-leash dog park?
Some kids are frightened of dogs and parents who currently use Shaw Playground may want to ensure that an off-leash dog park is not co-located near play equipment.
A resident might, for example, suggest the play equipment is relocated next to Central Park (a block away and with toilets). You should not put out a proposal for public comment and then change the goalposts while the plan is out for public comment.