The last few months on City Council have seen debates about gambling reform, the park lands and standing orders. This newsletter summarises the highs and lows and everything in between!
Early this month I clocked up a year back in Town Hall. It’s been an honour to represent our community – thanks everyone for your support so far!
Council knocks back more scrutiny
On the meeting of the 7th of October, I moved to amend Standing Orders to give members of the public the opportunity to ask questions of the Lord Mayor, Councillors and Administration at meetings. I believe this would provide an important level of accountability and is line with the open approach taken by many other Councils. Unfortunately the push was blocked by Councillors Couros, Abrihimzadeh, Hou, Knoll and Khera (Clrs Abiad and Hyde were on leave). My motion had the support of Clrs Moran, Martin and Donovan. You can read more here.
Council opposes note acceptor pokies
The State Government are planning to introduce note acceptor pokie machines into South Australia. I fear this will aid the exploitation of vulnerable people by making it easier for people to lose large sums of money. On the 7th of October I pushed for Council to write to the State Government opposing the move. This push was supported by a majority of Councillors. You can read more here.
Call to ban meetings outside of Town Hall
In October, Council considered its response to the State Government’s Local Government Reforms. At Committee on 16 October, I called for the State Government to retain existing provisions preventing informal meetings of a quorate number of Councillors. You can read more here.
New policy to increase social and affordable housing in the city
In February I moved for Council to investigate opportunities to boost affordable housing and social housing in the city. As a result of this motion, administration prepared a comprehensive report on the current state of play in the city. The report, presented to Committee on 15 October noted that current affordable housing targets are rarely met by developers.
At Committee, a majority of Councillors backed my call to support developing a Council policy and strategy to increase affordable and social housing. The policy and strategy was to be accompanied by a scoping exercise to guide the project and assess the scale of the issues faced. You can read more here. Unfortunately, this was watered down by an amendment by Clr Couros at Council the following week. As a result, Council will now develop policy only and not do so until the State Government have completed their own policy work. Clr Couros’ amendment was supported by Clrs Abrihimzadeh, Khera, Knoll, Hou (Hyde and Abiad on leave)
Also last month, InDaily revealed that Council staff have identified potential sites for social housing in the city. I will be pushing for options to come to Council for consideration as soon as possible.
Secrecy about cladding risk continues
Clr Phil Martin has been leading the push for Council to release the details of buildings in the CBD covered in cladding. At our meeting on the 23rd of October, Council supported a motion from Clr Martin to release the information, contingent on State Government authorisation. The motion was opposed by Councillors Abrihimzadeh, Couros, Knoll and Hou (Abiad and Hyde were on leave) but carried with a slim majority. The State Government have unfortunately vetoed the move.
Council knocks back divestment from fossil fuels… again!
On the 23rd of October, I moved to amend Council’s Treasury Policy to ensure Council divestment from fossil fuels. The policy would have had no adverse impact on Council’s finances and set a positive example for other Council’s in the state to follow. My motion was supported by Councillors Moran, Donovan and Martin but opposed by Clrs Abrihimzadeh, Couros, Hou and Knoll (Abiad and Hyde on leave). There was no debate or explanation given by those who opposed the motion.
Pride Walk vandalised
I was saddned to see the Pride Walk on Light Square vandalised just a few days after the landmark celebrated its third birthday. This homophobic act is a sad reminder of the need to keep fighting injustice in our city. Council staff moved quickly to remove the graffiti and the walk was looking as good as new the following morning.
The race that stops the City Council?
Council chose not to schedule a meeting for the 5th of November as this would clash with Melbourne Cup celebrations. This is an ordinary working day for most South Australians and Adelaide is the only Council in the state to adjust its schedule to accommodate the race. I will be moving to amend next years’ schedule to ensure this Tuesday is treated as a usual meeting day in future. You can read more here.
Precinct Groups under review
Council has commissioned a review of Precinct Groups and the option of establishing a new Adelaide Economic Development Agency was canvassed. I was disappointed that Precinct Groups had not been asked to form a view on the recommendations before the Council workshop and fear that small business owners and residents could be disenfranchised in a new ‘super committee structure.’ I will continue to follow this issue closely and understand administration will be having further discussions with Precinct Groups. You can read more here.
Push to reduce meetings gathers steam
The Lord Mayor is leading a push to reduce the number of formal Council meetings from twice a month to 1 (with the second meeting only as needed). I worry that this will reduce accountability of the Council to ratepayers. The matter will come to Council on the 10th of December. You can read more here.
Council to double Aboriginal staff
At its meeting on the 19th of November, Council backed a motion from Phil Martin to double the number of Aboriginal staff employed by the organisation. I was delighted to support this and believe Council should be a leader in this space. I was disappointed to see Councillors Abiad, Abrihimazadeh and Khera oppose the move. You can read more about the proposal here.
Debate about the Crows’ on the Park Lands continues
At Council’s meeting on the 19th of November, I moved two key motions on the Park Lands. Unfortunately, both were opposed by the majority on Council.
I tried to prevent corporations from bidding for our public land behind closed doors, by removing the Park Lands from Council’s unsolicited bids process. This would have stopped a repeat of the Crows’ fiasco in the future. The motion was blocked by the majority of Councillors in favour of a ‘workshop.’ Councillors Moran and Martin backed my push (Councillor Donovan was on leave). You can read more about my motion here.
The State Government have announced plans for a new Planning and Design Code which appear to facilitate a proposal from a sporting club for the Aquatic Centre site by referencing “recreational sporting clubrooms, facilities and associated administrative functions.” I proposed that Council make a submission to the Government backing the existing provisions which restrict extensions or new developments. Only Councillors Moran, Martin and Couros backed my push (Councillor Donovan was on leave). You can read more here.
Councillor Couros proposed that Council begin consultation on the Crows’ concept plans for the Aquatic Centre site after December 10. I moved to ensure a genuine consultation, with alternative options for maintaining public ownership of the aquatic centre to be presented to the public, along with consideration of whether the Crows’ bid should even be entertained. My amendment was opposed with only Councillors Moran and Martin (Clr Donovan was on leave) voting in support. As a result, consultation will be based on the assumption that a Crows’ bid is the only option. You can read more about the debate here.
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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Please note, the views in this newsletter are my own and do not purport to be those of Adelaide City Council.