Council reaffirms Beach Road tree plantings

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KINGSTON Councillors have voted to clarify that all of Beach Road inside the municipality will be planted with trees as part of Bay Trail works.

The motion to “confirm that the Beach Road Boulevard plantings be for the entirety of Kingston’s section of Beach Rd, from Bayside’s border through to Mordialloc” was set to be heard last week at a special meeting on 11 February, but the meeting had to be adjourned until 18 February after four councillors stormed out.

The motion was carried 5-2, with Crs Georgina Oxley, David Eden, Rosemary West, Steve Staikos, and Tamara Barth in favour and Crs Geoff Gledhill and Tamsin Bearsley opposed. Crs George Hua and Ron Brownlees were absent.

Kingston mayor Cr Georgina Oxley told The News reaffirming that all of Beach Road in the municipality would have trees planted was necessary to “clarify a section of the motion that our officers were unsure of. The purpose was to clarify that what was carried by council back in December in regards to tree plantings of Beach Road, which is that they would be for the entire Beach Road in the City of Kingston. This needed to be clarified.”

“The Bay Trial debate has been going on for 25 years, it’s about time we got on with it. The boulevard will be a fantastic addition, it is one of our city’s most significant streetscapes, and Beach Road has missed out on some tree plantings over the years. I’m looking forward to seeing it begin,” she said.

The special council meeting was again affected by heckling and shouting from the public gallery, who were largely opposed to the tree plantings.

“We had another rowdy gallery last night, and I commend a number of councillors who were interrupted at a number of points last night. It was probably a little bit worse than last week,” Cr Oxley said.

“We decided not to take any options [to eject anyone], it is a democracy after all. People are more than welcome to be in our gallery, but a bit of respect goes a long way.”

A statement from Cr Oxley after last week’s explosive council meeting said “it is disappointing that the focus of discussion has moved away from completing the missing link of the Bay Trail, which will provide a safe off-road path for pedestrians and inexperienced cyclists.”

That meeting was called to rescind a motion to refer the Bay Trail matter to IBAC for investigation.

The move to call for an IBAC investigation had been passed at the previous week’s council meeting, with Crs David Eden and Tamara Barth absent. Cr Gledhill moved the motion, which resulted in heated debated and allegations of a conflict of interest made against Cr Gledhill.

Cr Gledhill said at the 11 February meeting that “this came up because people came to me because they weren’t happy with the process we as a council had followed. It was all about process, they felt that they as residents had been ignored by this council, and other bodies. I think they had fair grounds.”

“This simply comes down to do we want to do the right thing by our residents? Do we want to ignore them, thumb your nose at them, and make inappropriate remarks regarding their motives? I haven’t seen a process that’s been conducted in this manner, the least we could do is give people some comfort in that process, while they might not agree with the outcome, at least they can have comfort that the process was fair and reasonable,” he said (“Trial on trail called off by divided council”, The News, 13/2/19)

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 20 February 2019

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