ACCUSATIONS of “spin” have been levelled at Kingston Council’s Kingston Your City publication over council’s plans for Kingston’s Green Wedge.
Cr Rosemary West said the past three editions of council’s newsletter, distributed bimonthly, had falsely claimed “council is committed to protecting Kingston’s Green Wedge”.
“It is wrong for ratepayers’ money to be spent on spinning the plans of five majority councillors to be something they’re not,” Cr West said.
“If the majority councillors genuinely wanted to ‘protect the Green Wedge’ or to promote a ‘semi-rural feel’ to encourage residents and businesses to improve its appearance, as stated in KYC, they would implement the Kingston Green Wedge plan adopted by the previous council in 2012.”
Kingston Council paid planning consultants Planisphere about $340,000 to produce the 2012 Green Wedge plan. Councillors narrowly voted late last year to hire consultants Meinhardts to produce another report at a cost to ratepayers of an additional $164,000 (‘Wedge report ‘a waste of money’’, The News 17/12/14).
Crs Tamsin Bearsley, Ron Brownlees, Geoff Gledhill, Paul Peulich and John Ronke voted at December’s council meeting to pay $164,000 for a Green Wedge report from Meinhardt’s.
Crs Tamara Barth, David Eden, Steve Staikos and West opposed the decision.
Cr West said it is “unrealistic” to expect the state government to “allow virtually all of the privately-owned land south of Heatherton Road to be carved up for suburban sprawl”.
The area earmarked for subdivision by council includes 53 hectares of land bounded by Braeside Park, Southern Golf Club and Springvale and Governor roads.
Last year, The News revealed Mentone Grammar made a submission to Planisphere in 2012, kept confidential by council at the time, asking for its Keysborough playing fields in the area to be removed from Kingston’s Green Wedge and included in the urban growth boundary.
This would potentially make the land marketable for residential development.
Cr West said “some landholders think they just might persuade council and state government to make fortunes for them by rezoning their land along the current majority councillors’ lines … [councillors] have resolved to spend another $164,000 of ratepayers’ money employing consultants to provide ‘strategic justification’ for their plans.”
Kingston Council did not respond to questions about Cr West’s comments about the Kingston Your City publication’s coverage of council’s Green Wedge plans before deadline.