If, as stated in The Courier of 18/10/2016, a planning application for a heritage development ( in Webster Street) was delegated by councillors to council officers, the practice must cease. Councillors, elected by citizens eager to preserve this city's unique architectural heritage, must carry out all their duties. Council officers are not elected and their design qualifications are questionable.
Heritage listing has a strong and clear meaning, not to be meddled with by anyone.
Darryl Cloonan, Ballarat
Latest approval troubling
The actions of the BCC in endorsing the plan for the development of the saleyards at Miners Rest, including its various technical reports, is a matter for great concern. In compliance with the Local Government Act, our council has in place an election period policy designed to regulate council operations during a general election period.
It seeks to guard against behaviour detrimental to the proper and fair election of councillors during this "caretaker period". It also reflects the proscription contained in the Act on decision-making during this period. Paragraph 6.1 in BCC's Election Period Policy states, "Council commits to the principle that it will make every endeavour to avoid making decisions that inappropriately bind the incoming Council". It is arguable that council's latest endorsement of the Miners Rest saleyards plan is a significant decision and is seriously at odds with its commitment referred to above. Our council's responsible officer should disclose all documents relating to delegation of the subject authority, including the minutes of any meeting.
The second factor relates to the legal process currently before VCAT. In approving this saleyards plan, council has shown disrespect both to the lawful process and to the community of Miners Rest; if not Ballarat proper. Additionally, council has also shown its preparedness to invoke (at the very last minute) its election period policy, with a questionable application of its contradictory provisions to prevent from proceeding with a forum on 2 October, arranged for discussions between councillors, nominees for council and the community.
The workings of our council over these last four years, as demonstrated by certain councillors and officers indicates a pressing need for change. If time in office is anything to go by, it seems strongly to indicate a pressing need for their replacement.
Peter McCracken, Ballarat
Last Friday the Ballarat city council ( officers), during caretaker period, gave approval for a major project to proceed; the construction of saleyards at Miners Rest. This despite council being well aware of current VCAT action surrounding this matter. One has to question the motivation behind the unseemly haste to saddle a new incoming council with this contentious project. Council has referred to its decision as a "standard administrative matter". Many in the Miners Rest community will not appreciate their legitimate and heartfelt concerns being reduced to this fairly demeaning term.
At a council meeting in June 2014, council took the resolution which specified that if the developer presented a building permit application to council, based on plans and information that had been "publicly exhibited " throughout the process, then council officers could approve that permit. Council is aware that latest plans from the developer indicate that the facility is to be significantly larger than indicated on earlier plans, yet they have now approved this construction without these new plans ever having been publicly exhibited. Council therefore is conveniently ignoring its own resolution in order to approve this unpopular and inappropriate work.
The facts are that there are current VCAT actions in train, and this work cannot commence until those legal actions have been dealt with and resolved, and depending on their outcome, construction may not be able to commence at all.
Eileen McGhee, Miners Rest