Tag Archives: Caulfield Park




Last week’s Council Meeting (20/5/2014) saw some 35+ residents protest against Council’s decision  to demolish the conservatory and return it to open space. The decision (a 4 to 3 split decision) to remove the conservatory (Council Meeting 29/4/2014), came some 7 months after the previous unanimous decision to (24/9/2013) to restore and replant the landmark Conservatory.

The protest involved residents entering the Council Chamber towards the start of the meeting and chanting, for some 4-5 minutes “SAVE OUR CONSERVATORY”,  then departing.

As stated in our below posting, the 24/9/2013 decision to restore and replant  the conservatory, reflected the view, clearly and consistently, expressed by residents in 4 consultations over a 5 year period (a period in which Conservatory neglect continued).  The last consultation (July, 2013) being an extensive mail out and telephone survey in which residents were asked to rank the various alternative uses – the unambiguous survey results were

  • Most preferred option – restore and replant (49% of respondents)
  • Least preferred option – remove (50% of respondents)

The 20/5/2014 decision to remove is primarily based on Council’s estimated cost of restoring and replanting ($120K) being lower than the average cost ($297K) of structural restoration tenders received (an amount of questionable significance in terms of Council’s annual $73+m budget).   Re the removal decision – no community consultation occurred and no information was provided in support of Council’s $120K (restoration and replanting) cost estimate.   Additionally, the comment  “that if residents were aware of the cost when surveyed, the outcome would most likely have been different” (Leader Article 21/5/2014)  lacks foundation and does not acknowledge that, although residents requested cost estimates be provided for the various 2013 survey options presented, none were provided.

GERA maintains it’s view that Council’s decision to remove the conservatory is inconsistent with

  • Council’s goal of incorporating community input into its decision making process
  • The principles of good governance



The issue of what to do with the  Caulfield Park Conservatory (subject to a Heritage Overlay) has been raised 4 times in the past 4 years. Predominantly the options presented to the community have been restore, remove or convert to café.   Although, each time the community has voted for restore, the conservatory has remained neglected.

The last community consultation was held in July, 2013.   In addition to the usual Council consultation announcements (ie Council’s website, Glen Eira News and Local Media),  Council also undertook

o a 3200+ mail out of a pictured survey brochure, which requested residents rank the below alternative options in order of preference

Café – indoor/outdoor – capacity 50
 Café/Tearooms – indoor/outdoor – capacity 80-100
 Children’s garden/playspace, environmental education hub
 Community Rooms
 Native/sustainable garden
 Plant Nursery
 Recreational/exercise area
 Remove Conservatory and return to open space
 Retain the Conservatory, repair, restore and replant garden
 Other

o a telephone survey of 300 residents and
o promoted the survey in prominent locations within Caulfield Park.

Although residents, and the Friends of Caulfield Park, requested cost estimates be provided to enable residents to make informed decisions on the various options, none were provided.

The results of the returned surveys (24/9/2013 Council Meeting Minutes – Item 9.14) were

• the most preferred options

o the Conservatory to be repaired and restored, with its gardens replanted (49%)
o the second most preferred option being that the Conservatory be used for a native/sustainable garden (31%).

• the least preferred options

o remove the Conservatory and return the area to open space (50%)
o used as café/tearooms – with an indoor/outdoor seating capacity of 80-100 people (44%)

As a result, Council passed the following motion

That Council:
(a) Note feedback received during consultation process,
(b) Repair and restore the Conservatory and replant its gardens,
(c) Investigate options for community involvement in the restored

At the last Council Meeting 29/4/2014  (Council Meeting Minutes – Item 9.8), the Caulfield Park Conservatory was raised once again. The Officers Report presented states that the Council Budget provided $120k for restoration of the conservatory and the average of the tenders received for the restoration of the conservatory was $297K.   The explanation for this cost over run was that in “The process of preparing the tender specification and the tender process itself identified additional issues”*, which we believe are predominantly structural and brings into question the costing exercise undertaken to determine the budgeted $120K.

The options presented at the last Council meeting (29/4/2014) were

“Options include, but are not limited to:

a. select a tender for the restoration of the conservatory and accept the significantly increased cost;
b. remove the conservatory and return the area to open space including new plantings of exotic species – estimated cost $75k;
c. remove the conservatory and amphitheatre and return both areas to open space including new plantings of exotic species –estimated cost $140k;
d. undertake consultation on alternative proposals;
e. other action as directed.”

The motion passed by Council (Moved by Cr. Lipshutz, Seconded by Cr. Delahunty) was

“That Council remove the conservatory and amphitheatre and return both
areas to open space including new plantings with exotic species with an
estimated cost of $140,000”.

Voting for the motion – Crs. Delahunty, Esakoff, Lipshutz and Pilling
Voting against the motion – Crs. Lobo, Magee, Sounness.

Following on from the recent well-publicized and highly contentious removal of trees from Caulfield Park, the Friends of Caulfield Park are understandably aggrieved at Council’s decision to overturn (within 7 months) the 24/9/2013 decision to restore and replant – a unanimous decision that was based on extensive community consultation. The split decision to overturn was made without any community consultation and on a questionable budget estimate.

GERA supports the Friends of Caulfield Park in their objection to the decision to demolish the conservatory and their request for Council to reverse their decision to demolish the Conservatory.   The decision to demolish the conservatory is

  • contrary to the repeatedly expressed wishes of the community,
  • contrary to Council’s frequent claims incorporating community input into its decision making process
  • contrary to the principles of good governance (GERA 2011 Governance Posting).  Such principles do not support overturning a previous decision, that was based on an extensive community consultation, due to an underestimated budgeted amount.


For those interested, we also highlight that Council’s DRAFT 2014 Community Engagement Strategy has been published and is available for community consultation (submissions to be lodged 21/5/2014). We encourage all residents to review and make a submission. As per this Draft Strategy,

“Community engagement is about enabling the community and other interested parties to be informed and invited to contribute to Council services, events, strategic plans, issues and projects. Engagement strengthens the community by involving citizens in the democratic process and providing them with opportunities to express their points of view. Participation in civic life is recognised as being central to good health, developing strong and supportive networks and creating a positive community spirit.

By engaging with the community, Council acknowledges the right of citizens to have their say and get involved with local issues that affect them, their family and their community. It also enables Council to meet the needs of the community by ensuring that planning and decision making is based on an understanding of the needs and aspirations of community members”.


* Additional issues identified during the tender process

• A significant area of the roof structure was found to be supported by the
• New lintels and steel columns would be required to support the roof.
• Much of the polycarbonate roof sheeting, windows and doors need to be
• Existing steel trusses also need structural reinforcement.


Below is an email GERA has sent to each Councillor re yesterday’s early removal of trees in Caulfield Park. For the past month, the Friends of Caulfield Park (FoCP) have been campaigning against the removal of 39 (later reduced to 21) trees in the park to allow for the expansion of sporting ovals.   Full details of FoCP’s campaign are available on Facebook and their website

Although works were scheduled to start in January, 2014, and Council was fully aware of community opposition to the removal of the trees (including this morning’s presentation of a petition to State Parliament) Council removed the trees yesterday morning.  Leader Article 10/12/2013

IMG_9185 T

Each dirt mound represents a lost tree.

Email from GERA to Councillors (10/12/2013)

Below are two self explanatory emails,

  1. the first from GERA to our members and associates, commenting today’s removal of  trees in Caulfield Park and Council’s stated goal of encouraging community participation in the decision making process.
  2. the second from Friends of Caulfield Park (FoCP), which in addition to commenting on Council’s arguments for the tree removal also comments on their assessment of Councils performance.

 Could you please comment on

  1. your opinion of, and justification for, the original proposal – removal of 39 tree for the expansion of 2 sporting ovals (no need to comment on the spurious arguments already disputed by the FoC, unless you disagree with their “spurious” nature)
  2. your opinion of, and justification for, Council’s alternate proposal of saving some trees and the “possible” relocation of 13 others (an alternative not included in the original proposal – yet which arguably should have been)
  3. your opinion of the alternate proposal presented by the FoCP – pros and cons
  4. Your position (i.e. vote) on the removal of the trees today as reported by Mayor Pilling and the date of the meeting at which this voting occurred

Email from GERA to Members and Associates (10/12/2013)

GERA has received the below email from the Friends of Caulfield Park re the removal of 39 parkland trees to provide for the expansion of 2 sporting ovals.

Scheduled to commence in January, 2014,  in the midst of much, extremely vocal, community opposition and presentation of an alternate plan and on the eve of the presentation of a petition (signed by 500+) to the State Government (Caulfield Park is Crown Land, managed by Council), the trees were cut down this morning (10/12/2013).

At a social function early last week, I along with other residents, raised the Caulfield Park 39 tree removal proposal with newly elected Greens Mayor Neil Pilling.    Mayor Pilling recognized that it had become a bigger issue than was expected but believed a compromise solution would be found.  Given the Council’s actions today, it is needless to say that GERA is not only appalled but does not disagree with FoCP’s assessment of Council performance against Council’s stated goal of encouraging community participation in the decision making process.

GERA joins FoCP in urging members to contact Councillors to voice their dissatisfaction.

Email from Friends of Caulfield Park advising tree removal (10/12/2013)

Council “thumbs it nose” at the Community

 Like storm troopers, the secret executioners gathered in the early hours of this morning and, instructed by the administration and its officers, swooped on the 39 trees and cut them down.

 The mayor said all the Councillors were behind this move.

 He said there was nothing wrong with this action.

 We disagree.

 We know not all the Councillors were behind him and were kept in the dark about this destruction.

 We believe that the Mayor and the administration realised that the FoCP petition of over 500 names (gathered in less than a week) would be presented to Parliament tomorrow and that their plan to cut down the trees would be in jeopardy.   They thought once cut down they were gone and they could proceed with their ill-conceived plan in peace.  With the Festive Season upon us we would all forget their contemptuous action and let them get on with it.  This is bureaucracy at its arrogant worst in overriding community wishes.

We have shown how their justifications for cutting down the trees are fabrications.  So what is the real reason for their determination to proceed, no matter what the community thinks?

 If anyone knows the background to their hidden agenda, please drop a note to PO Box 2511 Caulfield Junction 3161.  It appears that they are somehow beholden to sports clubs above all other interests.  Something is rotten in the City of Glen Eira

 David Wilde is handing in the Petition on the Parliament steps tomorrow at 9 am and would like others to join him.  …… We realise this is short notice, but please do your best.

 What next?  The Council thinks it can thumb its nose at us.  They need to learn that the community is not impressed with their anti-social, anti-community behaviour.  There are two issues here. The one is the loss of the trees, and the other is the Council’s total disregard for the expressed concern of the community about this matter.

 Let the Council know what you think of them.  Here are their contact details.  Email, message and phone them and tell them their behaviour is no longer acceptable.  Tell them we want those trees replaced with mature trees where those that were cut down previously stood, and that they cannot spurn the community in this way.


We thought it appropriate to interrupt our series of postings on the recently implemented planning zones with a short story which “tickles our fancy”

Bandstand Graphic Trimmed

The Friends of Caulfield Park (FoCP)  are a small dedicated group of volunteers whose goal is to preserve and  promote the Park and it’s features.   As part of their promotional efforts, FoCP are holding a series (7 in total) of free summer concerts in the little used, historic Bandstand – opened in 1921 by then Prime Minister, Billy Hughes.  The concert performers are local artists and free art and craft activities are provided for children.

As the costs of holding and promoting the concerts (which hopefully will become an annual event) are considerable FoCP applied for a Community Grant from Council to supplement their own funding (from members and local sponsorships).  Although not without some “hassles”, Council awarded FoCP a grant covering approximately a third of the concert series cost – good job Council.

Just prior to the second concert in the current series, Glen Eira’s Director of Community Services advised FoCP that they

 “may not put up posters advertising this public concert around the park as it breaks Council by-laws”.  If the posters were put up “they would be taken down immediately” and FoCP “could incur a penalty”.   – not a good job Council

In true indomitable Aussie style,  FoCP members are now strategically parking their cars, complete with posters in the windows, around the park – good job FoCP

Needless to say GERA

  • Supports FoCP in it’s endeavours and encourages our members and readers to attend the concerts – the next concert is 1st December.  Concert dates and details
  • Is having considerable difficulty reconciling the Director of Community Services’s above decision with
    • Council’s Mission Statement of actively fostering a sense of community, and
    • The Community Grant purpose of assisting not-for-profit, community based organisations to implement projects and activities which meet identified community priorities and benefit Glen Eira ratepayers, and
    • Council’s frequent claim of having “reasonable laws, reasonably enforced”


Immediately prior to the Council Election,  two well publicised incidents of alleged “banning” of fitness activities in Glen Eira parks occurred (Frisbees in Caulfield Park, Zombies Fitness in Virginia Park).  Rather than let these incidents get lost in the election hubbub and in response to a resident’s email, GERA is revisiting these incidents and their attendant issues.

Given that

  • Glen Eira’s well publicised “banning” instances have been  occurring, every 2-3 years, since 2007.
  • Glen Eira has the least open space in metro Melbourne (Glen Eira has 4 hectares per 1,000 population vs. metro Melbourne average of 7 hectares per 1,000 population)
  • Increasing development invariably results in diminishing private open space and a higher demand on public open space

GERA believes that it is definitely time that Council clarified its stance on parkland usage by sporting groups.  Repeatedly Local Law (Clause 326) – “Organised Activities” has been acknowledged as inadequate and is need of review;  Clause 326 is open to interpretation and hence its application is inconsistent.  Since other Councils don’t have the issue, the issue is not unsolvable – what is missing in Glen Eira is the will to resolve.

Publicised Incidents

Below is a listing of the well-publicised incidents since 2007.  While it may be assumed that more incidents, that didn’t get publicised, have occurred over this time, GERA does not have knowledge of these. 

  • Shleppers – May, 2007 – an “informal” group of Jewish footballers who played at Caulfield Park on a Sunday morning.  The dictionary definition of “shlepper” is a clumsy or stupid person.   Purported to have been fined $5000.00, later waived

Channel 7 – Shleppers – 27th May 2007

  • Stars Slam Fun Ban – November, 2007 – an informal group of sports stars who, with their children, met and ran in Caulfield Park for family fun and exercise.

Herald Sun, November 2007 – “Stars Slam Fun Ban”

Australian, 30th November, 2007 – “Council backs down on fines”


  • Caulfield Park Social Soccer Club – March, 2010 – an informal weekly group of players.  Fine waived after permit application lodged.  This incident resulted in a long running dispute with Council as the club claimed inequitable treatment since another regularly playing group (Frisbee players) was not similarly fined – this dispute was later nicknamed the “Frisbee Affair” and allegedly Cr. Lipshutz’s son was a regular player/organizer.  Among various Council communications, the dispute involved a large number of Public Questions to Council.  The dispute, although not resolved, quietened down after the 19 July 2011 Council Meeting Minutes -Section 11.4  when Council deemed all public questions regarding the Frisbee affair as “harassment” and would no longer either read or answer them at Council Meetings.

 Leader – 1st April, 2010 – “Kicked Out of Caulfield Park”

Since the revival of the Frisbee affair in October, 2012 (the same group of Frisbee players mentioned above now being “banned”) the Caulfield Park Social Soccer Club lodged 15 public questions at the 16th October, 2012 Council Meeting (Minutes – Section 11.4).

Leader – 16th October, 2012 – “Footy Group Demands Answers on use of Glen Eira Parks”

Of the 15 public questions raised 1 was answered and the remaining 14 were ruled “out of order” as they did not comply with Council’s election Caretaker Policy (ie deemed to refer to electoral matters).  The question that was answered related to the monitoring of the Frisbee group – Council’s response stated that there is a regular gathering in Caulfield Park late on Friday afternoons by people playing what appears to be Ultimate Frisbee. 

  • Frisbee Players – 16th October 2012 – the  informal group of Frisbee players mentioned above, who regularly play in Caulfield Park on Friday afternoons.  This instance received considerable radio and print media coverage in Victoria and interstate

 Glen Eira Leader – 17th October, 2012 – “Frisbee ban sparks parks review”

TNT Magazine – 11th October, 2012 – Glen Eira cop tells kids they need au 120 to play frisbee in the park


  • Zombies Fitness Group – 23rd October, 2012 – following hot on the heels of the Frisbee Players, the Not-for-profit group Humans Vs Zombies was told its tag games were “unsuitable” for Virginia Park, Bentleigh.

 Leader, 23rd October, 2012 – “First frisbees, now fitness”

Please note that contrary claims are made at the start of the Leader article (“Not-for-profit group Humans Vs Zombies was told its tag games were “unsuitable” for Virginia Park Bentleigh”) and at the end of the article (Council public relations chief Paul Burke told the Leader the council hadn’t received Humans vs Zombies’ request nor any applications “from Clingons, Romulans, Daleks or Goths”.).

Interestingly, in a 3AW radio interview with Neil Mitchell on 23/10/2012 (the same date as the Leader article which indicates that a request had not been received), Cr. Lipshutz discusses the letter of refusal sent to the Humans Vs Zombies and admits that the wording of the letter was “unfortunate”.

This same interview also refers to the 2012 Frisbee affair, which Cr. Lipshutz describes as being misreported (no “banning” occurred), politically motivated (close to the elections) by a resident who had lodged a recent planning application.  Please note this planning application was approved by Council, on 24th July, 2012, subject to certain conditions ( July Council Meeting Minutes– Section 9.3) and as per the 24th September, 2012 Council Meeting Minutes (Section 9.3 – VCAT Watch, New Appeals Lodged – Planning Permit P2381/2012), is subject to a VCAT appeal by an objector, not the applicant.

In each of the above cases, Council has consistently claimed that

  • It has “reasonable laws reasonably enforced” and that  “anyone can play in our parks” yet admits to ambiguity in the Local Law – clause 326 which needs to be reviewed.
  • No “banning” has occurred.  The groups concerned were not  “banned”  but rather were advised that they would have to get an “allocation” (ie booking or reservation)*, which ensures ground availability, if they wish to play on a regular basis at specific times and locations.  However,  this does not mean “that if kids want to play Frisbee they need an allocation”
  • Any fines that had been issued (eg. Shleppers) were later reviewed and waived.

 What has Council done

 As per above, in each instance, discussions at Ordinary Council Meetings have focussed on Local Law (clause 326 – “Organised Activities” and slated it for review by the Council’s Counsel and the Local Laws Committee (established in 2006,  Cr. Lipshutz has been Committee Chairman since inception).   The review has always been open ended (no time limit) and hence it remains in abeyance.  There has not been any formal proposal related to clause 326  put to an Ordinary Council Meeting since 2009.

Local Law – clause 326  currently reads

“Organised activities

326.     Participating in, or allowing, a formal, structured or organised sporting activity, including practice, or being responsible for organising a structured social activity such as a wedding or concert, on Council Land other than in designated locations.

 Direction: A direction issued under clause 303 in respect of a breach of this clause may include, but is in no way limited to, a direction requiring a Person participating in or allowing a formal, structured or organised sporting activity on Council Land without a Permit to immediately cease the activity and leave the Council Land. 

This clause should not unreasonably capture smaller informal groups.

 Penalty: 3 Penalty Units”

Note:  With the exception of the sentence “This clause should not unreasonably capture smaller informal groups” the above generally constitutes the 2000 Local Law. Following a review in 2009, the Local Law was amended to include the highlighted sentence.

The ambiguity referred to by Council relates to the absence of definitions (eg. what is formal, structured and/or organised) which leaves the law open to interpretation.  The 2009 amendment, which also lacks definitions (eg. what is smaller, informal and/or unreasonable), is equally open to interpretation.  The Paul Burke quote in the 2007 Herald Sun article (refer above link)  – “It’s a judgment call – “if there’s a group of people turning up regularly to use the facility, any reasonable person would believe it’s an organized group” – is just as applicable today as it was 5 years ago.

The history of addressing this issue repeated itself at the 16th October, 2012, Council Meeting, when the two October, 2012 incidents (Frisbee group and Humans vs Zombies) was discussed.  Once again the need to review the law was raised and it was noted that

  • the Corporate Counsel has been too “busy” on other matters (eg VCAT) to review the issue (5 years?)
  • no mention was made of a Local Law Committee review
  • the Local Law should be reviewed in its entirety rather than a “piecemeal”.  Since elections are to be held shortly, this review should be undertaken by the next Council.

 GERA’s Comments

 As mentioned previously, use of parkland is an important issue and its importance will only increase as development within metro Melbourne, particularly Glen Eira, continues.  GERA is appalled that the “organised” sport issue has gone unaddressed for 5 years, despite repeated well publicised incidents occurring.  While there may be some justification in blaming deficiencies in the Local Law, GERA contends that Council’s inability to develop an equitable solution points to a lack of  will to resolve and  Council should consider introducing  the application of simple common sense in Park Ranger training.

GERA is perplexed by Council’s lack of will to resolve and believes that the current Councillors should redress this by making it a priority to address the park sport and fitness activities issue.




* Examples of allocation types and costs, excluding public liability insurance, are

One off                                    $120.00

6 month allocation               $300.00

Estimated public liability insurance for 6 months $1200.00