Mobile kitchen help gets knocked back

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Charity workers: Pastor Ulli Roldan, left, and Reverend Angel Roldan co-founded Life-Gate in 1992 to help disadvantaged youth in Frankston and surrounding suburbs. Picture: Gary Sissons

A REVEREND named a Citizen of the Year by Frankston Council last year says he is disappointed council will not financially support a mobile kitchen trailer to dish out meals to homeless and disadvantaged people.

Rev Angel Roldan attended the monthly public council meeting in January and asked councillors to support a mid-year council budget request to contribute $8000 towards a custom-made trailer for an existing Life-Gate food van.

Rev Roldan and wife Pastor Ulli Roldan, co-founders of charity Life-Gate, based in Frankston’s Olsen Street, jointly received Frankston Council’s Citizen of the Year award in January 2017.

Councillors were advised by Rev Roldan at the council meeting that the trailer will be a “mobile kitchen” and would mean volunteers can serve more food to the needy and boiling water will no longer be a hazard within the close confines of the Life-Gate van.

Life-Gate is trying to raise $36,000 to pay for the mobile kitchen trailer and has pledges of $28,000 from corporate and government sources.

After the meeting Rev Roldan told The Times council had approved a $1000 grant to Life-Gate last year that will be put towards the mobile trailer.

“I was expecting them to see there is a need in the community,” he said.

“I’m very disappointed and it’s just plain bureaucracy to me.

“I don’t know why they won’t give any more money towards the project.”

Federal Dunkley Liberal MP Chris Crewther promised $11,000 of taxpayers’ money via a stronger communities grant.

South East Water and Bayside Shopping Centre have pledged $5000 each.

Mt Eliza marketing business Creative Artroom is contributing $2000 and $3500 has been raised by donors in an online GoFundMe campaign.

Some councillors at the 29 January meeting voiced concerns about budget processes not been followed in any granting of money to Life-Gate as a result of a last-minute submission to Frankston Council’s mid-year budget review.

“The demand has increased because City Life is not offering meals,” Rev Roldan told councillors.

“The situation hasn’t got any better in relation to homeless people and people in need.”

He said a mobile kitchen trailer would mean Life-Gate volunteers can feed “100 to 120 people” in an evening by travelling between locations rather than “50 or 60” in one spot.

He said volunteers will have “more time to relate to the people in need” to find out if they need more help including counselling or rehabilitation services.

Crs Brian Cunial, Sandra Mayer and Michael O’Reilly said they support Life-Gate but could not sanction a one-off payment to the charity as part of the mid-year budget review rather than a separate grant application.

Cr Glenn Aitken noted council expects a cash surplus of $3.376 million in the mid-year budget review so believed $8000 towards a “humanitarian group of people” was a cost ratepayers could pay.

Cr Kris Bolam, who declared an interest in common but not a conflict of interest as a former director of Life-Gate, said he was disappointed councillors debated over such “a paltry amount of money” compared to the cash surplus.

Cr Mayer mentioned monitor Prue Digby, sent in by the Labor state government to report back on “governance issues” when discussing the Life-Gate appeal for ratepayers’ money.

“I’m just going to make a note of something here for the monitor,” she said at the meeting before describing the Life-Gate submission for money to the mid-year budget review “an anomaly” since it was not “technically” listed on council’s formal agenda for the meeting.

“I don’t know if they should have made a submission and I don’t know if they should be taken into account,” Cr Mayer said.

The North-East Ward councillor said Life-Gate regularly gets council grants and support for the hire of Frankston Arts Centre’s Cube 37 space for an annual art exhibition with disadvantaged children in partnership with Karingal’s McClelland College.

“It’s ad hoc so we’re making a decision on the run where we don’t have all the information and it sets a precedent. We’ll get approached by other organisations that want to skip the queue and not go through the grants program,” Cr Mayer said.

“A great organisation, love their work, but just not comfortable doing that [approve money through mid-year budget review].”

The mayor Cr Colin Hampton said Cr Bolam’s notice of motion to grant $8000 to Life-Gate lapsed during the debate since it was not formally moved as an alternate amendment.

Cr Hampton disregarded a suggestion by council CEO Dennis Hovenden during the debate to adjourn the meeting for 5 minutes to resolve the matter.

“No. Why? It’s quite straightforward,” the mayor said.

“I trusted in the process,” Cr Bolam said when advised by the mayor at the meeting the notice of motion would not be voted on by councillors.

See gofundme.com/mealsforchange to donate money towards a mobile kitchen trailer for Life-Gate.

First published in the Frankston Times – 19 February 2018

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