Green Councillor clashes with Liberal Councillor over commercialisation of a Randwick Council community pocket park in South Coogee pocket park – 25th October 2016

Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson wants Liberal Councillor Brendan Roberts to retreat from his support of a petition from a local cafe seeking permission for seating in an adjacent pocket park.

A testy exchange of emails between the two East Ward Councillors indicates how the highly populated Coogee area can see clashes between Councillors over pressure from business for the greater commercial use of local parks and open spaces.

Tonight Randwick Council will re-debate a proposal by the Cafe that it be allowed more outdoor seating on the footpath.  In this proposal the Cafe is not pursuing use of the park as it seeks in the petition presented to Council on the 20th of January and re-circulated to fellow Councillors by Council Roberts in a recent meeting of October 2016.


The Greens (supported by Labor Councillor Geoff Stevenson) are seeking deferral of the expansion proposal in order to allow for mediation between the Cafe and neighbours who fear being impacted on by its expansion of operations.

Councillor Matson said after receiving Councillor Roberts reply email today:

“I don’t care who or how the petition seeking seats in the park was tabled or presented to Council. What I do ask is for the Liberal Councillors to withdraw their support for the petition’s request  that the Cafe get permission for seating in one our pocket parks.

I remain surprised that an East Ward Councillor would so clearly indicate his personal support for increased commercialisation of a pocket park in such a densely populated part of Sydney. It sent the wrong message that Randwick is a Council that does not support the retention of open spaces.”

Email from Greens Councillor Murray Matson to Liberal Councillor Brendan Roberts to withdraw an unrelated petition circulated by Cr Roberts to Councillors during debate over a development application by the Lion and Buffalo Cafe for increased out foot-path door seating. (25th October 2016)

East Ward Liberal Councillor Brendan Roberts
Randwick City Council

Dear fellow east ward Councillor.

I have re-read the petition that you presented to Councillors at the last meeting during the debate on the Lion and Buffalo Café development application.

It is disturbing to see that the Liberal Councillors are supporting the Café request to its’ “customers” that they sign their support if they agree with the following: “2) to seek council permission to have some seating in the community park for members of the community (cnr Malabar Road/Denning Street)”

I am at a complete loss as to understand why a fellow East Ward Councillor would encourage the commercialisation of this small community park in a densely populated urban area such as Coogee. Clearly if the adjacent Café is seeking permission to place seating in the park then it intends that the seating will be for its customers and not for normal community use. I remind you that the café has already on occasion provided towels to its customers to use for makeshift seating in the park.

This petition has not originated as a request from the community but as a proposal from a business and I thus question its use as a true indicator of real community interest. I thus request that at tonight’s meeting you or another member of the Liberal party move a procedural motion that the petition be withdrawn so that Randwick Council is not portrayed as responding to commercial lobbying for access to community open space.

Greens Councillor Murray Matson

Reply to Greens Councillor Murray Matson from East Ward Liberal Councillor Brendan Roberts received by email 25th October 2016

Dear fellow East Ward Councillor Cr Matson

The said petition was never tabled my me, so I can’t withdraw it.

It was tabled by the applicants as part of their Section 96 submissions on 20 Jan 2016.

Next time I suggest you get your facts right before firing off emails with numerous others CCed on them, it looks unprofessional.

I did refer to the petition at the last meeting, and it certainly did inform the debate regarding the support the cafe had from its local community.

What is actually concerning is your Green ideological opposition to cafes providing an in demand service for their community, even when the cafe is supported by the independent town planners of Council – which is the case here.

Your demand that members of the community are not welcome to enjoy a picnic in a local park is disturbing! Unbelievable, for the record I support locals if they want to have a picnic in any park of the city, your ideological bias is on rabid display Councillor.

The approval as passed by Councillors was as per the recommendation of Council, which was to remain on the concreted part of the path, and not to use the park. Yet you still have used your powers to table a rescission motion against this approval.

I note you moved amendments seeking to cut the number of outdoor seats from the current numbers and also to cease all night time dining; I too am at a loss as to why you are so opposed to a small local business trying to provide a service to their community and jobs for local families.

I make no apologies for the amendments I moved two weeks ago, that were ultimately defeated; like you (and your amendments), I felt they more reflected an appropriate balance of all the competing issues. Unlike you though, I did not prolong the stress for all by tabling a rescission motion after the meeting. Rescission motions generally should be tabled when there’s Councillor absentees or new information. In this case, neither of these exist. The independence of the town planners provided a recommendation that was passed by Councillors. The town planners considered all the issues on behalf of all the stakeholders.

Once again you and The Greens have hijacked a council meeting with your ideologically driven crusade against hard working local small businesses who have the support of the independent town planners via recommendation.

I will be supporting the town planners recommendation tonight, and hopefully let all people associated with this situation move forward in peace as a result.

Regards – Brendan


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