I am writing with some observations on the Hepburn Shire Council meeting on 15/06/2021 and in particular the performance of my Holcombe Ward representative Cr Simpson.
The first observation was that the meeting streamed on Facebook was very professionally run and managed by the Mayor and seemed a much more respectful meeting than might have occurred in the past.
An early agenda item was the presentation of reports where councillors and the CEO reported on their work since the last meeting. Mostly they were written but a couple were verbal and all referred to the horrendous natural disaster that enveloped the Shire last week together with the heroic work of SES and CFA volunteers alongside Council staff and work teams. Cr Hood was frequently singled out for his efforts.
Cr Simpson was the last to be called and she surprised me by saying she had no report and nothing to say. At this time there would have been people in Holcombe and its environs still without services and suffering not to mention all those people who did and are still doing amazing work. No mention of any of this! Amazing!
Then the meeting moved on to the business matter that I was watching for which was a planning application to vary a subdivision to allow 2 houses on 1 title to be subdivided into 1 house on each title. There were a number of objectors in the Holcombe ward on the basis of subdividing high quality rural land, setting a dangerous precedent etc and in a Council meeting just before the Council elections a proposal in Newlyn that had similarities was unanimously rejected.
Council heard from the owner and the surveyor and 1 objector. The planning department recommended accepting the application though interestingly the Mayor picked up that they had put the wrong application number on the motion.
The Mayor then asked if anyone would propose the motion and quick as a flash Cr Simpson put her hand up. The 2 Community Voice endorsed councillors also supported the motion despite saying they understood the concerns of the objectors and that the new planning scheme would address these concerns. Very cold comfort indeed.
Cr Simpson, the proposer, was asked if she would like to speak and she said no! She had nothing to say. She didn’t take the opportunity to say why she was supporting the proposal or to any of the concerns expressed by the objectors, her Holcombe Ward constituents. I invite people to go back and read her blurb when as a farmer she ran for election. Quite different sentiments.
The owner has long since moved to Northern NSW where he has bought a Motel. He spoke of how impossible it was to sell the property as it currently existed. Council, by approving the application, has certainly assisted him in the imminent sale and most likely given him a windfall profit with 2 separate properties now selling instead of one.
I’d say to Cr Simpson the residents of Holcombe ward deserve better and a Councillor who at least is prepared to speak. I for one won’t forget and will speak at the next election.
John O’Shea, Coomoora.
Response from Cr Juliet Simpson
As required by our editorial guidelines, we invited Cr Simpson to respond. Her response is published below. The editors.
Firstly I would like to explain my response to the recent emergency situation that arose on Wednesday night on the 9th of June.
On the morning of Thursday 9th June I worked, like many other people, in extremely dangerous conditions which included gale force winds and pouring rain under giant manor Eucalypts to cut uprooted massive trees off my fences in ten different places along the Glenlyon Daylesford Rd and the Midland Highway to stop my stock from going on to the highway. The worse case scenario would be if someone hit one of my black steers on the Road or highway which you can’t see at night. I worked, with some help, at my expense, to secure the boundary fences until 7pm on Friday night. By doing these jobs myself I freed up the emergency services to attend to other jobs.
I had to leave the fence mending and retrieve three of my black steers which were running along the Midland highway. The instructions that I heard from the emergency services was for people to keep off the roads, many of which were officially closed.
No one from Holcombe Ward contacted me as a Councillor and asked for help or reported to me what was happening in the Holcombe ward. Our instruction in an emergency situation is to follow the advice of the head of the emergency services and not to instruct people what they should or shouldn’t do.
Re John O’Shea’s objection to Planning application 2988 – two lot subdivision(re-subdivision) at 319 Daylesford- Malmsbury Rd Coomoora:
John O’Shea’s wife, Patrice O’Shea, was the one objector who spoke at the public meeting on Tuesday 15th June. The applicant Rowan Mobbs and the owner Glen Campbell spoke in support of the application. The head of the planning department, Bronwyn Southee, explained the planning application and the support of Officers to grant the application. If I had spoken I would have repeated what Bronwyn said which I didn’t think it was necessary. The Councillor’s vote to grant the application was unanimos – seven votes to zero.
This planning application was a straight forward realignment of the boundary of two titles so the two houses on the seven acre block of mainly swamp land, not viable agricultural land, could be sold separately.
If John O’Shea would like to speak to the head of the planning department about the decision he can speak to Bronwyn Southey or I’m happy to discuss the application with him.
Cr Juliet Simpson.