The Greens have issued a challenge to the Labor Councillors to “get convincing” about both saving High Cross Park by helping to relocate a contentious light rail interchange and by helping to secure the Kingsford Market site for local parking.
The frustrated call follows heated debates at the last Randwick City Council meeting which saw Labor opposing two Greens motion that sought to protect the park and advance the Council’s claim on the market.
The Greens are now questioning whether Labor will help Randwick Council on either issue under its adopted “Fair Go For Kingsford, Fair Go For Randwick” campaign if the opposition wins next March’s state election.
The divided Councillors will also have to continue debate on other as yet unresolved light rail issues put forward under a proposed development agreement with TfNSW. This will occur at an extraordinary Council meeting next Tuesday night.
Greens Councillor Lindsay Shurey has criticized the Labor Councillors for not supporting the Greens last Tuesday. She said this week,
“Labor is publicly calling for a campaign to save High Cross Park from the planned light rail interchange but last Tuesday night they unsuccessfully voted against Council setting up the ‘Fair Go For Kingsford, Fair Go For Randwick’ campaign. If they had been successful they would have stopped my proposal to work with the Government to buy property for an alternative interchange site to that of the Park.”
“I now call on the Labor Councillors to give a commitment that opposition Transport Spokesperson Penny Sharpe will help Council buy an alternative site to allow the light rail interchange to be moved from High Cross Park if she becomes Transport Minister in March.”
Fellow Greens Councillor Murray Matson was equally critical of Labor’s performance after it sank his motion to secure the Kingsford Market site on “fair and reasonable terms” as parking for South Juniors and the Kingsford Chamber of Commerce.
Councillor Matson will be resubmitting his motion next Tuesday night to have it re-debated and is calling for Labor’s support. He said,
“I am re-submitting my motion to next Tuesday night’s meeting because the Government owned share of the Kingsford Market site can’t be allowed to fall into private hands through Councillor inaction. I call on all Councillors to rally to the cause of securing the site for the Council, Souths and local Kingsford businesses as a parking facility.”
“Can Labor give us an assurance that Penny Sharpe will sell Randwick Council the Kingsford Market site on fair and reasonable terms if she becomes Transport Minister after March?”
Opinion is fiercely divided amongst the Councillors as to whether the proposed development agreement with TfNSW should be agreed to be signed at next Tuesday’s meeting to lock in recently gained concessions from the Government. Councillor Matson said today,
“The Mayor has advised Councillors that the Government has agreed to let Randwick Council insert clauses into the draft development agreement that will see us sold the Kingsford Market site at a reasonable price. There is also a win for us on clawing back lost parking spaces in Kensington, retaining our right to a previously promised community center on the Anson site and a stronger agreement on tree protection issues.”
Councillor Matson said he was not certain that that a majority of Councillors will agree to sign the development agreement next Tuesday night and that he expected a lot of tense phone conversations over the weekend.
But most crucial to these discussions will be whether the Government will also agree to lock into the agreement the Council’s resolution to the Greens motion of last Tuesday that seeks an alternative interchange site to save High Cross Park. Such a concession by the Government would make it agonizingly difficult for Councillors to now oppose signing the agreement. All Councillors have been advised that the Government could easily resume High Cross Park from the Council without a signed development agreement if needs to by the simple sending of a letter.
Several key proposed changes to the draft agreement light rail agreement with TfNSW that will be before the Randwick Councillors on Tuesday night are listed below.
Response to previous Greens amendment on Tree issues. Insert into the Development Agreement:
“TfNSW will ensure that a tree management process be developed and implemented that if Council and TfNSW’s tree experts do not agree on the extent of removal or limbing of trees, an independent arborist will review and make a determination.”
Response to Greens successful motion on High Cross Park. Insert into the Development Agreement:
“Randwick City Council will be scoping out a proposal known as “Feasible Interchange Alternatives” relating to the Randwick interchange/terminus, including acquisition and development of property on the north side of High Street, between Avoca and Clara Streets and on the east side of Belmore Road opposite High Cross Park between Avoca Street and Coogee Bay Road. TfNSW will consider this proposal once developed by Randwick City Council.”
Response to Greens as yet-unsuccessful motion on Kingsford Market site. Insert into the Development Agreement:
“TfNSW will transfer ownership of the site to Randwick City Council at market value assessed at the date of the Development Agreement. (It is noted that the ownership was transferred in January 2014 for $9.5 million)”