Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Points of Contention in the Fig Debate

Dear Colleagues,

Re the contribution to the Fig Debate from Council’s web site:

These issues are in contention from the Council’s point of view and can be answered formally.

The issues will not go away (trees or no trees) and the Council should show “Reasonable Cause” for their resolution to remove the trees under section 88 of the Roads Act 1993. (The question is: 'If a Councillor has' can mean 'If a Councillor thinks he has'. I believe that Council cannot now have a reasonable cause for the opinion that the trees are a hazard to traffic.

In the case Parks and Playgrounds Movement Vs Newcastle Council September 2010 it was presumed that General Manager Lindy Hyam had the opinion that the trees were a hazard to traffic.
However this week’s Forum demolished the basis for such an opinion to be held by the Council. Elected Councillors should show “reasonable cause” for their action in forming the opinion that the trees are a Hazard to traffic.

I have listed the issues in dot points below:

If you wish to understand the proposal for the widened Laman Street Plaza,  Called Anzac Place in Council’s submission to the Commonwealth Commission, it is attached below. The proposal was exhibited euphemistically as a Design Framework and has Council’s Logo on the front page. It claims to be from the two day workshop in March 2010 but was not.

Council states on its web: Last night’s fig fact forum included a number of statements that were false. These are addressed below. (I have paraphrased the 14 points. Full text on Council’s web site)

§         Council is a public body proud of its openness and transparency- it has conducted public forums, voice etc and provided information on Council Website.
§         Offensive to claim Council withheld Radar reports- request processed under Government Information (public access) Act.
§         Council has obtained 4 independent Arborist Assessments.
§         Council’s insurer will not cover risk beyond 31st Jan 2012.
§         Irresponsible statements that trees safe- 35 out of 135 removed failed and removed from the inner city.
§         Anzac Plaza is not reason for removing figs it is an idea sent to Commission –not funds application.
§         No tree reports have anything to do with Anzac Plaza.
§         Not the first time the Roads Act has been used to remove hazards - decision upheld by Court.
§         Behaviour of SOF people has required the Police.
§         A detailed response to Prof Stewart is on the Council Web.
§         SOF refers to arborist reports that contradict Council’s advice- they are not legally accountable Council’s advice based on knowledge of the site.
§         No ulterior motives and Council will replant 4 metre high trees in vaults to prevent root problems.
§         Council acknowledges that Trees have become contentious but acts for whole community.
§         Council desires to concentrate on Core Duties.

Cheers to all,
Doug Lithgow

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