I've now doorknocked most streets in the Stanmore ward, and residents have been raising lots of local issues with me and asking how I'd respond if I'm elected to Inner West Council. Here's a summary of some of the key local concerns that have been raised with me, along with how I'll work in this areas if elected.
- Graffiti management: Lots of residents have raised concerns about this one, particularly when it comes to a lack of prevention and cleaning of graffiti. I want our Council to develop a consistent and effective strategy for dealing with graffiti, including providing residents with packs to remove graffiti from their property, as the former Leichhardt and Ashfield Councils did - either free or at cost, depending on what works best. I also fully support Council's Perfect Match program, which helps reduce graffiti by matching artists with property owners to transform graffiti-prone surfaces into spaces for public artworks (which are then covered with ant-graffiti coating to further deter tagging, etc).
- Improving our streets and parks: Reviewing areas across our ward to see where there are opportunities for new or improved pocket parks and gardens, flower pots, street furniture, footpaths, lighting and pathways in our parks, etc are just a few of the ways we can make our streets and parks better and safer places to linger and enjoy. This is especially critical given so many of us in the ward live in apartments or homes that have little to no outdoor space, not to mention fewer opportunities for interacting with our neighbours.
- Supporting local libraries: The importance of our local libraries as places where people of all ages and incomes can access books, films, music, etc can't be overstated. They also offer vital community hubs and services beyond that, particularly for people on lower incomes, seniors, children, young parents, etc. I want to work with our community and Council to look at how we can expand those services to further support residents, and give people more opportunities to play an active part in their communities.
- Affordable housing: In relation to new developments, I support the targets developed through the Sydney Alliance - i.e. 15% on private land, 30% on public land. Last month, I attended Sydney Alliance's assembly on housing affordability and was very concerned to see the Greater Sydney Commission say their proposed target of just 5-10% on the uplift only might deliver "hundreds" of affordable rental homes across the city in the decades to come. That's nowhere near enough given the scale of the issue. Council's powers are often restricted in this area by the state government, but I think we should be doing whatever we can to push for these targets as minimum standards in new developments. I don't want to see our city, let alone our inner west, become a place where only the rich can afford to live.
- Supporting local business: I'm actively consulting with local small businesses, the Newtown Precinct Business Association, and not-for-profit organisations such as Pocket City Farms about how Council can support the industries that make our area so unique and creative.
- Parking: I don't think blanket policies are likely to work, especially given how broad the Inner West Council LGA is. This needs to be managed on a street by street basis, so that residents and local businesses who need schemes brought in can get them, and areas that would benefit from fewer restrictions can also have their needs met.
- Council mergers: As I've explained in a previous blog post, I'd like to see the question of whether or not our Council stays merged back to residents, as well as more transparency and public disclosure about what this merger has really meant for us - particularly in terms of costs.
- Sustainable development: The majority of residents I've spoken to don't object to development as a rule, but are rightly concerned at the extent of development that the NSW government wants to implement across our ward. Any such development needs to preserve the heritage and fabric of local communities, and go hand-in-hand with planning for new schools, health services, green spaces and essential services to support any population increases.
- Marriage equality / same-sex marriage: I fully support marriage equality, and would like to see the new Inner West Council reaffirm the previous Councils' support for it. Given the often toxic nature of the debate surrounding this issue, especially as the postal plebiscite heats up, I want to see Council do what it can to support our gay community and rainbow families, and encourage residents to vote.
If you have an issue you'd like me to address, please get in touch. For more about my previously published stance on issues such as WestConnex, sustainable development, and school and childcare pages, see my home page.