Ringwood Historical Society

Tonight I attended a Ringwood Historical Society meeting focused on the life of former Councillor Ben Hubbard, a well respected councillor from the City of Ringwood, and the inspiration behind the name of BJ Hubbard Reserve in Ringwood North.

It was fascinating to hear about the life of Ben Hubbard and his boundless passion for the community and his continued drive to ensure openness and accountability within the former Ringwood Council.

Ringwood has an amazing history and the passion Cr. Hubbard displayed is still visible today. Cr. Ben Hubbard was largely responsible for preserving the green leafy environment we still enjoy to this day in Ringwood, while also boosting our commercial capabilities through the creation of Eastland.
For further information on the Ringwood Historical Society please visit www.rhs.org.au.

Maroondah Journal: Councillor training taskforce 'a must'

The Maroondah Journal has reported on the Victorian Local Governance Association’s (VLGA) call to establish a councillor training taskforce with the aim of ensuring that councillors receive adequate training.

VLGA chief executive officer Andrew Rowe said:

“Councillors deal with issues of increasing difficulty and complexity while still essentially undertaking a part time role.”

As a newly elected Councillor in November 2005 I attended both a Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) councillor fundamentals course, which provided an overview of council functions and procedures and the VLGA’s Changes and Challenges course which provided details on Melbourne’s planning system:

O’d almost see [the courses] as compulsory for all new councillors.”

As a new councillor these courses offered fundamental information which is critical to being able to perform the role of a councillor in a professional and adept manner.

There is a lot of information to take in; if you don”t attend introductory courses it puts you on the wrong foot straight away.

While Maroondah Council does provide a comprehensive orientation there is a need for more detailed knowledge which is best provided by umbrella organisations such as the MAV and VLGA.

I applaud the VLGA’s efforts in seeking a greater level of training for councillors and support this initiative.

Clean Up Australia Day

This morning along with members of the Ringwood Transit City Community Coalition (RTCCC) I assisted in cleaning up Ringwood as part of Clean Up Australia Day.

Clean Up Australia Day is an annual event where volunteers clean, fix and conserve the environment. The Business Clean Up Day is held on the 28th of February while the Clean Up Australia Day is held on Sunday the 5th of March.

Along with the RTCCC I assisted in cleaning up the areas around Ringwood Plaza, Ringwood Station and Staley Gardens. A total of eight bags of rubbish were collected within one hour.

I urge everyone to become involved in Clean Up Australia Day for further details please www.cleanup.com.au.

Eastern Region Integrated Transport Group – First meeting for 2006

This evening I attended the first Eastern Region Integrated Transport Group (ERITG) meeting for 2006 as a councillor for Maroondah City Council.

The Eastern Region Integrated Transport Group is a collective of seven eastern metropolitan councils (Manningham, Maroondah, Yarra Ranges, Knox, Greater Dandenong, Monash and Whitehorse) which seeks to advocate for sustainable and integrated transport services in the eastern region of Melbourne through a focus on the travel needs of the community.

Cr. Mick Van De Vreede of Knox City Council has been appointed the chair of ERITG. Cr. Van De Vreede is a renowned advocate for sustainable transport and will provide a wealth of knowledge and experience in this role. With the expected release of the State Government’s Transport and Liveability Statement in April, regional bodies such as ERITG will be crucial in ensuring that the eastern suburbs of Melbourne receive much needed public transport improvements.

CRISP Nursery

Today I visited the CRISP nursery in Greenwood Avenue. The CRISP plant nursery (Community of Ringwood Indigenous Species Plant Nursery) is run entirely by volunteers who grow indigenous plants for local parks, reserves and the community.

CRISP offers these indigenous plants with the aim of preserving and enhancing the original and nature character of Ringwood and Maroondah’s natural environment.

The CRISP plant nursery is located in Greenwood Avenue, Ringwood and has a wide array of indigenous plant species available for purchase. Volunteers are also welcome.

The Age: Public transport on track for relief

The Age has today reported on rising speculation about the contents of the upcoming Transport and Liveability Statement. This statement aims to achieve integration between transport, planning and budgetary outcomes – an extremely noticeable failure of the much criticised Metropolitan Transport Plan (released November 2005) and Melbourne 2030.

It is no secret that Melbourne’s bus network is extremely poor compared to services in other capital cities and compared to the operating span and frequency of Melbourne’s own tram network. It is therefore hoped that the rising speculation and optimism about bus services will actually eventuate:

Long-suffering bus passengers are also in for relief with the statement expected to introduce minimum service levels on all routes, including night and Sunday services.

Buses are the only accessible form of public transport for about two-thirds of Melburnians, yet only one-third of routes offer Sunday services.

Public pressure has also resulted in a statement that is widely expected to include a number of public transport projects:

The Government is anxious about the pressure that rising petrol prices have put on creaking public transport services, contributing to a 7 per cent hike in patronage last year. Sensitivity also follows The Age’s “Off the Rails” series in November that highlighted widespread anger over the state of the system.

Most interestingly is the hope that the South Morang extension, a promise unfulfilled by the Bracks Government since 1999 may in fact be a key outcome of the statement:

The Department of Infrastructure is believed to have sought Government commitment to the South Morang extension of the Epping line, a project promised in 1999 but which appeared to drop off the Government agenda last year along with other rail extensions.

The success of the inclusion of much needed public transport rail extensions demonstrates the effect that lobby groups can have on government policy.

Public Transport Users Association spokesman Alex Makin said he was heartened by the speculation of rail expansion and bus service improvements.

“Melbourne has been promised many public transport projects by the Bracks Government and yet so few have been delivered,” he said. “The Government must ensure that this statement restores a sense of goodwill in the Government’s handling of public transport.”

MX: Bus overhaul needed

Media Release – Monday 20 February 2006

Bus Network Needs Radical Overhaul

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) is demanding that the State Government overhaul Melbourne’s bus network as part of its upcoming Transport and Liveability Statement and through the renewal bus contracts in 2007.

“Melbourne’s current bus network is antiquated and unable to cater to the needs of modern society,” PTUA spokesman Alex Makin said. “With outdated route structures that have not been reviewed in decades and a complex web of routes, Melbourne’s bus routes are both infrequent and inconvenient.”

The call to overhaul Melbourne’s bus network comes amid rising speculation that the upcoming Transport and Liveability Statement will include a substantial injection of funds for Melbourne’s bus network. All contracts awarded to Melbourne’s bus franchises are due to be renewed in 2007 providing the rare opportunity for a radical overhaul.

“As transport advocates we are tired of hitting our head against the wall each year to be awarded with nothing more than piecemeal improvements”, Mr. Makin said. “It is now time for the government to show some true leadership and pledge to completely overhaul Melbourne’s bus network. The creation of direct, efficient and frequent bus routes would provide a service comparable to Melbourne’s tram network which has experienced solid patronage growth over the last six years.”

While the latest State Government budget provided $44 million over four years for new services in the urban fringes, transport advocates have long indicated that at least $60 million per annum was required to both boost bus services and to provide additional coverage throughout Melbourne.

“The overhaul of Melbourne’s bus network would allow routes to be designed to connect activity centres ensuring consistency with Melbourne 2030. Local bus routes would serve residential areas removed from the main road network to ensure no one missed out”, Mr. Makin said. “These local services would connect to the principal bus network increasing the coverage, frequency and span of Melbourne’s public transport network.”

“Melbourne’s bus network is critically ill and requires urgent surgery. The chance to reform Melbourne’s bus network is a rare opportunity that can achieved through the upcoming Transport and Liveability Statement and the renewal of bus contracts. I urge the state government to finally show real leadership and completely overhaul Melbourne’s bus network to meet modern travel needs”, Mr. Makin concluded.

About the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA):
Founded in 1976, the Public Transport Users Association is the recognised consumer organisation representing passengers of public transport. The PTUA is a non-profit, voluntary organisation with no political affiliation, which lobbies governments and public transport authorities in the interest of all users of public transport.


Maroondah Festival

The Maroondah Festival held each year at Croydon Park, is the premiere cultural and community event for Maroondah. This year I attended the festival to assist with a number of community stalls and to speak to local residents.

While there was heavy rain early in the morning, we were fortunate for the rain to subside by 11:30am ensuring that the day’s festivities could be fully enjoyed. The Maroondah Festival provides the ideal opportunity to showcase the many community and advocacy groups that exist in our municipality and congratulations must be extended to the many volunteers of these groups in organising stalls and providing a presence at the festival.

Maroondah Leader: Council asked to get back on board the bus

At the Maroondah Council meeting of the 6th of February I presented a petition from residents seeking a continuation of the walking school bus program. The petition and the rationale behind the Walking School Bus program was reported in the Maroondah Journal:

PARENTS have lodged a petition asking Maroondah Council to review its commitment to the Walking School Bus program.

The program ended in December after a change to the funding model. For the program to continue, the council would have to pledge $9000 a year during the next three years.

Lead petitioner Kerryn Gosbell said the program had important economic, social, community and environmental aspects.

“I have three kids. I want them to be fit and healthy and to know that being in a car is not the only mode of transport because they get driven everywhere,” she said. “If we can’t give that to kids then how do we build our community?”

Maroondah councillor Alex Makin spoke in support of the Walking School Bus Program last week. He said the $9000 to reinstate the program was a “negligible amount” when weighed against the benefits it provides to children.

Council officers will now prepare a report into the continuation of the Walking School Bus program. This report will then return to council, where a resolution supported by a majority of councillors (at least four) will be required to ensure that the program continues.

PTUA Outer East Branch – First Meeting for 2006

The Outer East Branch of the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) met tonight for its first meeting in 2006.

Items discussed included the upcoming Transport and Liveability Statement. In the words of Steve Bracks this much anticipated statement “would address an imbalance between road and public transport” (Leader Newspapers, Tuesday 14th of February 2006) and as such the PTUA expects a firm commitment towards rail extensions and the establishment of service standards for Melbourne’s bus network.

The PTUA Outer East Branch will be focusing on improving the frequency, span and coverage Melbourne’s bus services to ensure that the upcoming Transport and Liveability provides an immediate funding boost for the two-thirds of Melbourne that lacks readily available public transport.

The campaign to extend the route 48 tram to Doncaster along Doncaster Road will also continue to ensure that Doncaster for the first time in recent history will finally have the reliability and frequency provided by the fixed rail network. This tram extension would require no additional rolling stock and would allow for the bus network in Manningham to be redeveloped into an efficient transport mode.

The issue of NightRider services was also discussed and the PTUA will seek the expansion of these services into the growing areas of Berwick and Pakenham. The NightRider provides public transport after midnight and is crucial for areas that have young families.