Friday, September 16, 2005

Clover takes the axe while Council in recess again!!

News today that the City of Sydney is taking the chainsaw to 34 trees trees in Hyde Park (see Council media release below). This is heart breaking news for those of us who love our trees and especially trees that have been in the centre of this city for generations. I do not question the fact that now we know the trees are dangerous that they have to go. No one wants responsibility for endangering the safety of park users. However I criticize very strongly the handling of this announcement today.

Councillors were summonsed to an 1130am briefing by the CEO. A time of day not suited to those with employment (remember Councillors are paid an allowance only). However whilst Councillors were being told the grim news the Lord Mayor was outside doing a media press conference. The Councillors were treated with contempt by the Lord Mayor. No discussion, no consultation with Councillors. We were told at the same time as the Lord Mayor told the media. This is the style of leadership that gave rise to the five non Clover Moore Councillors joining forces to spill the Deputy Lord Mayor's position and CSPC last week. There has been more spin today than the entire Ashes debacle.

Fingers for this disaster should not be only pointed at the current Council. When elected in March 2004, I discovered that Hyde Park operated without a Plan of Management. In other words there is no masterplan in place for Hyde Park. Michael Lee's ill conceived kids playground is as feasible as a Botanic Gardens style red train ride around Hyde Park. You can see the ad-hoc planning in the park as garden beds pop-up and disappear at the whim of the current landscape architects and Councillors. I was able to get the funding for the development of a comprehensive POM that should have been in place a decade ago. If such a masterplan had been in place the longer term strategic management of the mature trees could have been implemented and the need for a wholesale clear felling avoided. Frank Sartor should be asked why he laid acres of granite in Hyde Park but did not lay a sustainability masterplan for Sydney's most loved park.

18 months ago Council took the Botanic Gardens to court to try and stop the felling of the fig trees in the Domain. We were laughed out of the court room when it emerged the City o Sydney did not even have a tree preservation policy in place! (we do now). I now believe in hindsight the court action we took was in fact emmotive and short sighted. Perhaps we owe the Botanic Gardens an apology and why not offer Hyde Park for them to manage. Time to eat some crow pie Clover.

A comprehensive survey of the more than 600 trees in Hyde Park has revealed many are diseased and dying (as pictured), posing a serious risk to public safety.
The City survey, considered the most wide-ranging of its type undertaken in Sydney, showed many of the affected trees have badly decayed trunks and roots, making them susceptible to falling. The results of the audit have been supported by independent assessment.
Lord Mayor, Clover Moore MP announced the implementation of a Tree Management Strategy to help save the park's trees today.
To address the problem, 34 trees will be removed in the first instance. Over the short to medium term, the City will go about the huge task of replacing and replenishing the existing soils and installing new drainage systems to counter the worsening affects of the contaminated soil from the 1930s railway construction under the Park.

Make a comment here


Kim said...

NO thanks Shayne. You've already had too many changes of mind. You said at the time Council was right to take legal action. Council was not laughed out of court- they lost on a technicality.

Shayne Mallard said...

Thnaks for comment. I'm not sure when I last had a change of mind (on public policy anyway). However we shouldn't denegrate a politician changing her or his mind - in fact we probably need more of it and a bit less stubborn confrontation. Yes I have changed my mind on the Domain court action. But then I wasn't in a position to influence the decision anyway.

Not having a Tree Preservation Policy at COS (last updated 1971?) is still the subject of much myrth in local government circles. Legally it pulled the rug from under our position.

thanks Shayne

PS Why don't you use your real name - this is your 8th alias?

Phil said...

You have had more changes of mind than Shayne Warne has text messages. The court decision was not based on a tree preservation policy- it was based squarely on the legal title of theland in question-it was owned by the state government not Council.
If your liberallbuddies, Kathryn Greiner and Lucy Turnbull had done their job, we wouldn't be in this position.

Shayne Mallard said...

You ommitted Labor/Independent Frank Sartor who was in charge for the better part of the last decade.