Councillors Update (September-October)

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(In August, Adelaide City Council joined more than 700 local councils acround the world in declaring a Climate Emergency)

Welcome

It’s been a big few months on Council with Adelaide City joining more than 700 local Councils around the world in declaring a climate emergency, ongoing debate about the Crows’ proposal for the Parklands and the appalling decision to approve the removal of 11 healthy historic elm trees on North Terrace.

Adelaide City Declares a Climate Emergency!

In March I proposed that Adelaide become the first capital city Council in Australia to declare a climate emergency. Unfortunately, this opportunity wasn’t embraced by Council at that time and Hobart, Sydney and Melbourne all subsequently declared emergencies.

I was delighted however to move a motion on behalf of Lord Mayor Sandy Vershoor on the 27th of August declaring a climate emergency. This passed with all but one Councillor (Jessy Khera) in support. As a result, Adelaide will undertake further work to guard against climate change and the Lord Mayor will advocate for action at a state and federal level. This is a great outcome and my thanks go to all those who have advocated for Adelaide to join the climate emergency movement. You can read more about the outcome here and here

I was also delighted to see the Legislative Council of State Parliament pass a similar resolution last month.

Crows HQ for the Park Lands?

The debate about the Crows’ bid for the Park Lands continues. I remain deeply concerned about the lack of public consultation around these plans. The unsolicited bid process, which maintains confidentiality around the Crows’ proposal, has not served Council or the community well.

On the 10th of September I proposed that Council pause the unsolicited bids process until administration had completed the needs analysis on the Aquatic Centre. This would have provided an opportunity to assess community need for a public swimming pool before any proposal was progressed. Unfortunately this was opposed by the majority on Council, with just Clrs Moran, Donovan and Martin in support. You can read more here.

The park that is the subject of the Crows’ bid is named after former Olympian Denise Norton. She is strongly opposed to private ownership of this public space. I echoed her concerns when I spoke to InDaily.

I will continue to advocate for community consultation on this project and resist privatisation of our public land.

Council Bans Fake Grass from verges

The damaging effects of artificial lawn (plastic grass) are well known. This contributes to the heat island effect, increases plastic waste and hinders bio-diversity.

I was pleased that Council unanimously backed my call to ban fake lawn from public verges at our meeting on the 11th of September. You can read more about the resolution here.

Call for the state Government to protect city from the dodgy building crisis

Like many in our community I was shocked by the Four Corners program that exposed the failures that have precipitated the dodgy building crisis in Melbourne and Sydney. Many apartment owners have been ripped off as a result of dodgy work and defective material. I am concerned that Adelaide may also be at risk and have urged the State Government to implement the recommendations of Shergold Weir Report to protect apartment owners in our city. My call was supported by Council on the 11th of September and as a result the Lord Mayor will be writing to the Minister, Stephan Knoll about the matter.

Council approves the removal of historic trees

Renewal SA have requested that Council approve the removal of 11 historic elm trees from North Terrace as part of its plan for Lot Fourteen. I have consistently argued against the removal of these healthy trees on the basis that they are part of our city’s natural heritage, they cool our streets and are not at the end of their life cycle.

On the 18th of September, Council Committee agreed to Renewal SA’s request. The move was opposed by Councillors Moran, Donovan, Martin and myself. I was very disappointed to see this recommendation endorsed by Council the following week. The planned removal date for the trees is unknown. I will continue to advocate for Council and Renewal SA to reverse this decision and save these beautiful trees.

Push to reduce Adelaide speed limit to 40km per hour

Adelaide is the only capital city in Australia with a default speed limit above 40km/per hour. Reducing the speed limit from 50-40 reduces road fatalities by half and also redresses the imbalance between cars and people on our roads. Since my election, I’ve been arguing to reduce speed limits in the city. As I explained to The Advertiser:

“Ultimately, this is about improving safety and we need to recognise that our roads don’t just belong to cars, but also pedestrians and cyclists who have a right to feel safe.”

Council held a workshop on the topic on the 1st of October. The merits of reducing speed limits were discussed and a proposal will be developed in the New Year.

New Powers to The Lord Mayor?

The State Government has proposed new powers be given to Mayors to discipline Councillors by removing them from meetings or issuing fines. While I welcome tougher standards for conduct being imposed, I worry that the changes may concentrate power in the hands of the Mayor. This could create problems given the political nature of the role. I have suggested that instead the Government consider allowing Councils to appoint an independent chair, who sit outside of the political process (for example, a retired judge or politician) to impose discipline at meetings. You can read more about the idea here and here.

Contact Me

If I can assist you with a local issue, please do not hesitate to contact me on: R.Simms@adelaidecitycouncil.com.au or 0466 829 909.

I am based in Town Hall on Tuesdays. If you would like to arrange a time to meet please let me know!

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Disclaimer

Please note, the views in this newsletter are my own and do not purport to be those of Adelaide City Council.

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