Crossing fund reservations expressed

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GROWING discontent over the removal of vegetation and “moonscaped” land around Seaford’s RF Miles Reserve as part of the Seaford Road level crossing removal has seen Frankston councillors demand clarity from the state government on how a $10 million community fund will be spent.

A 7-1 majority of councillors at the latest 4 June public council meeting voted for council to contact Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allen and Carrum Labor MP Sonya Kilkenny “outlining council’s deep concerns with regards to the lack of transparency and probity” around state “prioritisation of the $10 million funds set aside for projects associated with the rail works in Seaford”.

North-West Ward councillor Kris Bolam introduced the motion as “urgent business” at the council meeting.

“When the Seaford Road LXRA works were undertaken a commitment was given by Sonya Kilkenny to have a special fund, a slush fund, of $10 million that would be for the benefit of Seaford residents,” Cr Bolam said at the meeting.

He expressed concern that the LXRA wanted to use most of the money for associated level crossing removal works instead of contributing money to community and sporting clubs such as the 1st Seaford Scouts Group who need new premises.

Fellow North-West Ward councillor Glenn Aitken expressed alarm at the removal of several banksia trees near RF Miles Reserve.

He described the area as “moonscaped” and said he had seen no evidence in plans that land would be revegetated.

“The people of Seaford want that area revegetated,” Cr Aitken said.

“They don’t want a series of hard surface trails.”

Ms Kilkenny said a community reference group will help decide later in the year how the $10 million will be spent.

“Many level crossing projects have included additional scope items to enhance the precinct around the crossing.  And across Melbourne, local councils have been very supportive of this approach.

“As part of removing the congested and dangerous level crossing at Seaford Road, the Andrews Government is spending $10 million to upgrade the local area, including RF Miles Reserve which is being occupied while the government is removing the crossing.

“The government will fully consult with the community, including users of RF Miles Reserve such as the Seaford Football and Netball club, on the best way to spend this funding.

“Every level crossing project across Melbourne has included a community reference group, including at Seaford and Carrum.”

The mayor Cr Colin Hampton, a Labor Party member, was the sole councillor to vote against pressing the state government for clarity on the $10 million fund. He said he had already written to Ms Kilkenny to ask for confirmation of planned community funding.

He questioned raising the matter as “urgent business” at the latest council meeting.

“I think this is not helping the case with Sonya. Give the lady a chance to answer the questions I’ve asked her,” he said.

First published in the Frankston Times – 11 June 2018

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