Mayor Steve Christou’s Weekly Message

An insight into what's happening around our local community.

23 July 2021

Child care centres stay in house under new operating model

At Wednesday night’s Council meeting, it was decided that Council-owned child care centres will be given a refresh by consolidating some services and balancing enrolments across different age groups to implement the best operating model. We pledged to explore all options and keep an open mind and we’ve done that with the help of a working group who’ve done an incredible job in weighing up the options.

With staff costs and overheads, it was difficult to compete with private providers as our centres were losing up to $6 million a year. We’ve had to take a long, hard look at enrolment numbers, costs of staff and facilities and how to get the best value for money for both rate payers and families of the 660 children who we provide care for.

Thanks to the hard work of the Councillor group I work with, we have managed to achieve a positive outcome for those who wanted the operation of this service to remain under Council’s control, but similarly those who have expressed concern about how heavily this service was being subsidised by rate payers. This really is a win-win for everyone and Council thanks the community for expressing their views and their patience while we have worked through this complex matter. We are very proud that Cumberland City Council will continue looking after the interests of our local community by caring for local children.

Crescent Parklands spells disaster

I am critical of the $525 million Crescent Parklands planning proposal for Holroyd in Sydney’s west. This massive development proposal will transform the site into more than 1,200 units, up to 28 storeys high – just off the already-congested Woodville Road and M4, and near Parramatta Road. The site is zoned for industrial use only, however, the developer bypassed Council and sought a review of the planning proposal under state planning laws.

It’s the sort of development you may consider if it was next to a train station or major transport hub. It’s not smart planning and that’s why Council would never support it. My concern is that it will have a significant impact on existing amenities. There’s no detailed plans for infrastructure upgrades and limited public transport nearby. It’s going to place an enormous strain on infrastructure that is already stretched.

We are at a loss to understand why the state government would support the planning proposal to rezone this site and open the door to high density residential development in this area. Perhaps the developer or the NSW Government could explain what public transport upgrades are proposed for the area. This area already suffers from a lack of public transport, public services and accessibility. This area deserves strong local leadership. For far too long, this area has suffered from a lack of basic infrastructure and services that can only be provided by the NSW State Government. I urge our local state members of parliament to work collaboratively with our community to ensure our voices are heard.

New Infrastructure Contributions Bill lacks transparency

Just like the state government’s COVID-19 messaging, the state’s proposed changes to the collection of developer contributions and setting of infrastructure contributions policy is vague, lacks detail and keeps councils and the community in the dark.

The Bill defers future policy decisions to the Minister which is a very dangerous precedent. To take away such an important funding source from local councils, then proclaim councils can make up that revenue from raising rates on their residents is extremely short-sighted and a slap in the face for hard working Australians. Cumberland City Council has worked very hard to ensure that our residents do not experience a rate rise. I sure don’t intend to start passing on this cost to our ratepayers. I urge our local State Members of Parliament to be vigilant and active on this issue. At the very least our residents deserve that level of service. If this proposal goes through, Cumberland City Council residents will be hit the hardest as our community is one of the most vulnerable and poorest in NSW.

The Parliamentary Inquiry into the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill 2021 heard from several councils but it’s difficult for us to even have a position on the Bill because it has very little detail. It’s impossible to determine how that will impact councils and the community.

One thing we can be certain of - this Bill will not have a positive impact.

Not good enough – Granville trains go from fast to last

For the past four years, I have maintained a strong voice advocating on behalf of commuters to the state government to reinstate Granville’s express trains. And this week I received a neglectful response from the Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Roads. They’ve ruled out any changes to the timetable.

Several years ago, the state government ceased running express trains from Granville. This is completely unacceptable for residents and has resulted in one hour commutes to the city which previously took 35 minutes. Despite Council’s efforts, there has been no improvement for our residents who continue to struggle with their public transport needs.

As a Council, we have invested heavily in major projects along the rail corridor and take pride in ensuring that locals and visitors have access to high quality infrastructure and services. Our residents deserve better. I am tired of Cumberland City being ignored and missing out on basic service improvements that can be provided by the state government. At a minimum, our residents deserve that level of service. This isn’t good enough.

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