For our annual Carols in the Park, I’m happy to say that our ever-popular host, Joy Smithers, will be handling the on-stage duties this year along with co host Brendan Moar from the Lifestyle Channel. Our plans are well in hand and on track for Sunday, December 12. The setting is Mascot Memorial Park and things get underway from 6pm onwards. For those that arrive early their will be face painting for the children and Pagewood Soccer Club are back with their famous sausage sizzle. Our thanks go to the members of the Inter Church Council for once again organising this wonderful event on Council’s behalf.
After we received requests from parents of students attending St Michael’s Primary School at Daceyville about safety of the children’s crossing in Haig Avenue, Council organised an on site inspection with the RTA and local police. In order to make sure the school crossing was even safer, Council has decided that it will be both upgraded and repainted. Painting the crossing pavement itself and adjacent markers means motorists are even more aware that there are school children around.
We’ll also install a safety fence as well as a special 25 metre drop-off/pick-up zone on the eastern side of Haig Avenue from the end of the current No Stopping zone right up to the school driveway. Signs and line marking will also be upgraded and pram ramps will be provided on each side of the crossing. It’s all about making our school zones safer for our children. We’re going to use the upcoming school holidays (not that far away) to revitalise some other school crossings and safety markers around school. The aim will be to have everything looking good – and safe – for when the schools come back for first term next year.
Last week, the 23rd Kmart Wishing Tree appeal began – and it’s something we all should support. The Wishing Tree appeal, which Kmart organises in conjunction with the Salvation Army, makes Christmas brighter for many thousands of Australian families. What began in Adelaide in 1988 is now an Australia-wide appeal.
Christmas gifts are collected at all K-Mart stores and distributed by the Salvation Army and several other groups, to families in need. What better way to make a child’s Christmas than to donate a gift. The gifts can be bought or hand made and all you need to do is drop them off – or more particularly – put them under the wishing tree just inside the door at Kmart’s Eastgardens store. All you need to do is fill out details of the gift (so age groups can be determined) on a Wishing Tree appeal gift tag. If you want a bit more information, you’ll find one of Kmart’s Wishing Tree Champions in the store who will give advice and help you donate. Council has supported the Kmart Wishing Tree appeal for many years and at last week’s launch, the Lady Mayoress was on hand to put Council’s gifts under the tree. This is a really worthwhile appeal and one that puts a smile on lots of faces at Christmas.
I was delighted to pop in and visit the Little Athletics at Hensley recently at the invitation of their President, Tony Vellecio. I had the honour, and privilege, to present the Club Captains with their medals and to congratulate the Club on increasing its numbers to well over 660 this season! This year’s Club Captains are Theresa Coyle and Alland Odisho. The Vice Captains are Emma McKinney, Serena Kyriacou, Tim Young & Ryan Brijones. The growing interest in Little Athletics was obviously a combination of the new facilities, but largely, he believed, it was due to the hard work of Tony Vecellio and his committee who have been working closely with other sporting organisations to encourage youngsters to keep fit and improve their skills during the summer months.
The City of Botany Bay wishes all its budding athletes a very successful and fun-filled season. And remember it never too late to join up just give Tony a call on 93494862 or turn up at the track on Saturday morning.
One day, hopefully in the not so distant future, the geniuses at the RTA may make a decision on what to do with the intersection at Botany Road and Mill Pond Road. In peak times this is perhaps the most congested of all our local intersections. It’s where outbound Botany Road traffic has to get across airport-bound traffic and cut around to General Holmes Drive and the airport tunnel. Overhead are both the Southern Cross flyover and the port rail link. As it is under the final part of the flight path to the east-west runway, we can’t have another overpass (eve we have to keep the trees lopped so they don’t interfere with landing aircraft).
All-in-all it’s where three modes of transport (road, rail and air) converge and given traffic light phasing, we have congestion backing up along Botany Road, often beyond the Wentworth Avenue intersection. In recent years I think I’ve seen several options that the RTA has examined (and I know there are a few more they haven’t told Council about) but nothing, so far, has proceeded beyond an option. Residents and those who work in our City have to go through this shambles each and every day. Frustration among motorists grows and minor collisions are never far away. From the level crossing on the final bit of General Holmes Drive (the city side of Wentworth Avenue) to Mill Pond Road and the Southern Cross Drive flyover and the rail line are all in the mix but there must be an engineer’s solution to ease the congestion. Council will keep at the RTA until one of the many options that has been considered moves from being an option to an actual project.
Over the past couple of months, Council’s health inspectors have cast a close and careful eye over more than 130 shops and factories where food is prepared and/or sold. Buying pre-prepared food is now an established part of all our daily lives. Making sure that pre-prepared food is safe is a central part of Council caring for the community. It’s also part of our relentless campaign to ensure that those preparing or selling food does so with the highest hygiene and safety. We inspect and we work with those who prepare food, making sure they are aware of all the standards that have to be met. One slip or one cut corner can lead to illness among those who consume the food. It’s a testament to the effectiveness of our on-going inspection and education of food outlets and factories that of all those inspected only two were issued with penalty notices. Six were informed that they had to upgrade their operations and Council’s inspectors will be back to make sure all the necessary safety and hygiene standards are in place. Our aim is to make sure food prepared and sold in our City is of the highest standard.
I was very disturbed to read reports in the last week or so about numbers of children in the Eastern Suburbs who had not been immunised.
For many years Council has organised free immunisation clinics every month – on the first Thursday. These clinics enable all children to be immunised against life threatening diseases.
A lack of immunisation increases the risk of suffering from diseases that are preventable – whooping cough, polio and many more. Immunisation not only protects your won children but those they mix with at school, pre-school, play groups and in playgrounds.
The monthly Council immunisation clinics are held, as I’ve said, on the first Thursday of each month in three locations – Mascot early Childhood Centre, 51 Coward Street, Mascot between 9.00am and 10.00am; the Central Library, Ground Floor Eastgardens Shopping Centre between 2.00pm and 3.00pm and again between 6.00pm and 7.00pm. The next date the clinics will be held on is December 2. I’ll give the dates for next year in a later column. If you need any more details or information, contact Council’s health services staff on 9366 3666.
I must confess I was a little surprised at the comments in the local paper by some people and organisations over fees and available times to use Hensley Field. The athletes, who describe themselves as “elite”, wanted to use the field when the kids from Little Athletics are using it.
Little A’s have been using Hensley for a long time and we’ve supported them. Were we to throw the kids off because the “elites” wanted the track? The answer was no, resoundingly no. The request to Council indicated there was a group of 10. If so, the cost per athlete would be $12.50 per hour – not an outrageous amount. The fees for Hensley were set with consultation with a wide range of people and are comparable with similar facilities. Council also has a responsibility to our residents and ratepayers – to allow the use of local facilities with priority to locals (surprisingly the number of organisations outside the City who want special preference) and to ensure ratepayers’ funds (funds that pay for the facility) are used properly. For that combination, we make no apology.
For the past couple of years Council has been working (and negotiating) with the Department of Planning over the future use of land in Pagewood, around Page Street, Holloway Street and Green Street – near Pagewood Primary School. The land has been used as industrial for many, many years and Council saw an opportunity to rezone it to mixed use, including residential.
We felt any new industrial operations right next to the school was not good planning, although we understood the Department’s policy of maintain the land as port related for employment and economic reasons. We worked through all the issues with the Department and I then invited the Minister for Planning, Tony Kelly, to come and have a look. What we wanted the Minister to understand were the views of local residents and how they saw the future of this area.
The Minister and his Department agreed with those views and a week or so ago the local planning scheme was altered to allow varying developments. The Minister was right when he said the land off Page Street didn’t really fit within the scope of port-related. The State Government’s decision opens up some real planning opportunities for Council and local residents. This was real cooperation and consultation between Council and the Government and one that will result in better local outcomes.
When we held the open day on Saturday October 23 to celebrate the reopening of the expanded Mascot Library and George Hanna Memorial Museum, our photographer was on hand to record the event. As a result, we’ve got a large number of photos – with just about everyone who attended being captured. We also organised a photographic record of the first Rhyme Time at the library, held on Wednesday October 13.
If you were at either of these events and want to see all the photos, then call into my office on the ground floor at Eastgardens (next to our Central Library) and have a look through the proofs. We’d be glad to print them for you so you can have a personal record of these outstanding community events.
Botany Public School P&C have advised me that they are in the midst of organising the school’s Spring Fete. This great family event will be held at the school on Botany Road, Botany (where else?) on Saturday November 13 between 10am and 2pm.
The school’s actual address is 1076 Botany Road, Botany and everyone is invited to attend. The fete will feature its own side show alley with thrills such as the Teacup ride, Dunking machine, Tiger Jumping Castle and a bungee trampoline. There will also be performances by Southern Cross Tae Kwon-Do, Shaolin Monk Group, Dynamics School of Dance, R&D School of Dance and the school’s very own dance and choir group. There will, of course, be a range of stalls, from Guess the name, Guess the weight, plants, Crazy Hair, lucky dips, popcorn and fairy floss, a white elephant stall and more. There’s an open invitation to the community to come to our great school & enjoy a fun day at the Spring Fete.
I had great pleasure last Saturday hosting a civic dinner for the members of the Botany and Mascot RSL Sub-branches. Attending were veterans from the Second World War to those who served in Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, Timor and the Gulf and Iraq/Afghanistan. Our local RSL members have been in many, many areas on conflict.
In the past, we’ve hosted events to coincide with the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the end of the Second World War. This time, what we focused on were the men and women who are our local veterans. These men and women epitomise the Australian identity, an identity forged in war, on the cliffs of Gallipoli, in the mud of France, the sands of northern Africa and the jungles of Papua-New Guinea. The jungles of Malaya and Vietnam reinforced that identity, as did the sands of the Middle East in Iraq and Afghanistan. Desert and jungle, sand and snow, the oceans and the skies of the world, all have seen Australian defence personnel. It was fitting that in the lead up to Remembrance Day we honoured our local vets.
Down in Mascot in the streets closest to the airport and where we’ve got a resident’s parking scheme, both I and local residents have noticed an increase in the number of parked cars displaying authorised disabled parking permits. I’ve also seen more and more when I’m working in the City, especially around Macquarie Street, the courts precinct and outside St Mary’s Cathedral. The permits grant special parking privileges to disabled persons and are issued by the RTA. They are a great boost to the disabled and around medical centres and shopping centres they can make life easier, as they should.
But they are also being abused by those who are not disabled and use them as a means to get all day free parking – and at times fill up spaces that should be used by genuine permit holders. I see that in the City where the same cars are parked in almost the same spot every day and we’re starting to see it in some of the Mascot streets. I realise some of the permits are used by disabled persons working in both the City and in our suburbs and nothing should impinge on that. What does concern me and many I talk with is the abuse by able bodied people of the disabled permits.
I know standing committees in both the State and Australian parliaments have investigated the issue and given that there are some 800,000 disabled parking permits issued in Australia there will, unfortunately, be some abuse. What I would ask the State Government to look at is the possibility of imposing a, say, four hour limit on the use of disabled parking sports, with the exception, of course, of disabled person working in nearby premises. If the disabled spots are near medical facilities and a patient is required to stay more than four hours, a simple note from a medical practitioner would override any parking infringement notice. I’m not looking at imposing burdens or bureaucracy on those who use disabled parking permits in the spirit in which they are issued. What I am endeavouring to do is put a halt to the abuse of this special parking spots, parking spots that are intended to assist the disabled and not the rorters.
It’s the last one for the year – and it’s an opportunity to help our young learner drivers by helping their parents and supervisors.
Council works with the RTA is organising and running workshops not only to help learner drivers become better drivers but also as a way to reduce serious accidents. Statistics show that drivers aged between 17 and 20 are three times more likely to be involved in serious accidents. Anything we can do to reduce that is worthwhile. When we had the last workshop, just under 40 parents of aspiring young drivers came along and all felt it was a positive step.
The workshop focuses on helping Parents and Supervisors of learner drivers, and the Graduated Licensing Scheme, which requires learner drivers to have 120 hours of supervised driving practice. Places are limited and the free workshop will be held on Thursday November 18 from 5.45 - 7.45pm. For further inquiries and registration please contact Patrick or Yasemin on 9366-3889.
Plans are well in hand for this year’s Carols in the Park which will be held on Sunday, December 12, in Mascot Memorial Park from 6pm onwards. Organised by the Inter Church Council and sponsored by our City, this year promises to be bigger and brighter than last years. The line up of stars for the night is still being finalised but there will be some old favourites as well as a few new surprises. I will keep you informed.
I was delighted to receive a note from Tony Vellico and the Randwick Botany Little Athletics this week advising that they are now up and running on the newly installed athletic track at Hensley and that this season has bought an increase in members with registrations still coming in!
The growing interest in Little Athletics is obviously a combination of the new facilities, but largely I believe, due to the hard work of Tony and his committee who have been working closely with other sporting organisations to encourage youngsters to keep fit and improve their skills during the summer months. Good Luck to all our budding athletes for the coming season. Its not too late to join up just give Tony a call on 93494862.