Council’s public statements on community consultation, traffic management, open space and transparent and accountable governance are encouraging but unfortunately more often than not Council’s actions do not match its words.
At the last Council Meeting (Minutes, 16/10/2012 – Public Questions Section 11.4), the last Council meeting prior to this Saturday’s Council Election (27/10/2012), the following public question was asked by a resident
“Prior to Council updating it’s website the latest Glen Eira Road Safety Strategy available on Council’s website was the 2007/8 – 2011/12 Road Safety Strategy. Currently, I am unable to find any Road Safety Strategy document on Council’s website. Could Council please advise where I can find the Road Safety Strategy on Council’s website and when a current (i.e. 2012 – 2016) Road Safety Strategy will be prepared and presented to residents? ”
The Council’s response read by the Mayor stated
“The period covered by Council’s 2007/8 – 2011/2 Road Safety Strategy is at an end. A new Strategy is being developed. Community consultation is a key stage in the process. This will occur in early 2013. When the new Strategy is adopted by Council, it will be placed on Council’s website. Copies of the current strategy are available upon request.
The Council’s 2012-13 budget contains a number of projects to improve road safety and they are being implemented.”
GERA is having considerable difficulty reconciling this response with the widely criticised 2012Community/Council Plan*, commenced in April, 2012 and adopted by Council on 26th June, 2012 (Minutes – Section 4.1). Like most who attended the Community Plan consultations, GERA heard residents express major concern about traffic issues within the municipality. As a result, the Community Plan, page 21 – headed “Theme 2: Traffic, Parking and Transport” clearly states that
“Council provides a range of traffic management initiatives for the benefit of its residents and ratepayers.
Addressing safety is the most important task. The basis for achieving this is Council’s Road Safety Strategy (RSS). The RSS prioritises needed changes to the road system that will address identified safety concerns. Accident history informs the RSS priorities. The RSS is a “living” strategy and priorities change with updated data”.
The 2007/8 – 2011/12 Glen Eira Road Safety Strategy , was prepared by Andrew O’Brien & Associates Pty Ltd+ in December 2006 and is based on 2005 data. Prior to 2008, Glen Eira Council (in line with other metro Melbourne Councils) updated the Road Safety Strategy annually (statistics) and rolled the horizon forward for 4 years. However, unlike other metro Melbourne Councils who continue to update their strategies annually, Glen Eira has not updated their strategy for 6 years.
The principal focus of a Road Safety Strategy is to reduce road trauma (a.k.a. personal injury crashes/collisions, in terms of numbers and severity). With the increasing number of vehicles on roads, comes increased residential, commuter and visitor traffic. The need for a fluid and adaptable strategy that meets the changing needs of the road safety issues (particularly rat runs in residential streets) is readily apparent. With the push to sustainable public transport and active transport (pedestrians and cyclists) the need to ensure the safety of these most vulnerable road users (as opposed to a single occupant vehicle) is also readily apparent.
Glen Eira Council’s response to residents’ concerns on traffic and road safety concerns (both during the community plan consultation and over many years) is to describe an obsolete Road Safety Strategy as “living”, and to stress how important community consultation is in developing the strategy. The action of doing nothing until 2013 (when, at a minimum, updating the Road Safety Strategy should have commenced in 2011), is poles apart from the words. It is something voters should take into consideration in this Saturday’s (27/102012) Council Elections.
* The 2012 Community Plan (linked above) has been heavily criticised as being representative of Council’s (predominantly the Administration’s view, with little opposition by elected representatives) rather than the residents’ views. So much so that unprecedented in Glen Eira’s history, a Council appointed community representative on the Community Plan, Valerie Johnstone, lodged a formal submission to (Council Meeting Minutes, 12th June, 2012 – Section 9.6) suggesting improvements that were not included in the plan yet were clearly expressed at the various committee meetings. Additionally as a result of her experiences on the Community Plan Committee, another of the community representatives (Kate Dempsey – Camden Ward) has decided to stand for Council.
+ Over a period of time Glen Eira Council has subcontracted all traffic engineering activities/services to O’Briens Traffic.
Disclaimer: At the time of posting Council’s website is down, therefore, links provided to documents (Council Meeting Minutes and the Community/Council Plan) are generating a “System.OutOfMemoryException” message. GERA will monitor and re-establish the links when Council has corrected it’s website.
Authorised by M. Healy, 100 Eskdale Road, Caulfield North.