Monday, 14 August 2017

St John Street bus stop vote not supported by all City of Launceston aldermen and more still

Moving the St John Street bus stop is still possible according to City of Launceston Alderman Hugh McKenzie. “Clearly, we currently have ended nearly back where we started and whilst I see some benefits in the pedestrian linkage from the Quadrant and the sense of moving that alignment away from the current bus stop I haven't given up on looking at other options,” he said.

Ald McKenzie was one of four council representatives absent from last week’s meeting, when the council voted 6-2 to reaffirm its plan to move the bus stops closer to York Street.

If any of the four aldermen had been present, and voted against the motion, the council would have been forced to find a new solution regarding a petition submitted by retailers in the area.

I have championed the moving of the bus stops –  from there current location [and] initially I pushed for the move to Civic Square in front of St Andrews Church, which met some resistance from the church due to access issues for funerals and weddings,” Ald McKenzie said.

RELATED: Peter Gutwein slams council's bus stop project ...

“The redevelopment of Civic Square would also give active space for those waiting for a bus to utilise the public open space and library. 

I also pushed for Patterson Street but again this met resistance from Pilgrim Launceston Uniting Church.

Deputy Mayor Rob Soward, who did not attend the meeting, could not confirm how he would have voted.

"Had I been there last week I would have asked questions in open council to ensure all consultations had occurred and obviously if speakers were present to hear concerns ... before I finalised my view,” he said.

Ald Soward said he had previously suggested moving the stops to opposite St John's Anglican Church or near the public buildings and Civic Square.


EDITORS NOTE: Well you do have to wonder, and worry, where aldermen get to when the chips are down. Ald. McKenzie wasn’t only missing for the meeting that missed an opportunity to listen more carefully to his constituents but along with others he has been present when the Council has made a whole bunch of decisions that will no doubt cost ratepayers when it comes to paying their rates down the track.

Launceston’s rates are already about $500 over the odds in Tasmania. Now that’s in a city where approx 50% of residents and ratepayers are in receipt of a social security payment. It’s the same jurisdiction where youth unemployment and under employment is at crisis levels. It’s in a State where we now know that about 75,000 people live on or below the poverty line and great many of them will found in Launceston.

The Mayor has been out and about talking up the debt level he and the aldermen have led the council, and thus the ratepayers, into. The Minister it seems has held out the money bag and the aldermen it seems have said ‘all right’. It now looks like the General Manager had done all the cutting and drying for that decision – and quite probably on his own or possibly telling the Mayor sometime before the meeting. Rolling over in this way is as they say “a bad look.”

The city has taken on extraordinary debt without, it seems, meaningful aldermanic consultation. However the aldermen have agreed and their decisions are upon their head but their constituency must ‘pay up’. A long look needs to be taken at their performance individually and collectively. When they take on loans for projects, and expenditures, that need to completed quickly one has to worry about fiscal decision making at Launceston’s Town Hall.

Ald. McKenzie can kick and scream all he likes but if he and other absentee aldermen want to be taken seriously they need to get their act together and be accountable and more accountable than they’ve held themselves in the life of this council elected three years or so ago.

If the Minister was not so deeply implicated in the funding of projects being talked up by the Mayor he might well be visiting the kind of discipline on Launceston Council as he has done for Huon and Glenorchy Councils. It would seem that there’s more to come here.

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