Thursday, September 19, 2019

Thin blue line at council meetings

Police cars at the Bushy Park Pool earlier tonight.
THE cost of police presence at council meetings was questioned by members of the public attending tonight's community forum and Derwent Valley Council meeting in the hall at the Bushy Park War Memorial Swimming Pool.

Two uniformed police officers sat through the community forum and open council meeting but left just before the council went into its closed session. They interacted good-naturedly with the 20 or so members of the public present, but this use of police resources soon came into question.

"Who pays for the police to come to be at the door of a meeting?" Anne Stephenson asked from the public gallery during the community forum.

Standing in for the mayor, deputy mayor Jessica Cosgove said nobody pays for the police to attend council meetings. "Obviously Tas Police have a station here in the Derwent Valley and I'm assuming that it is just in the interest of the community for the police to occasionally have a presence here as they do throughout other community events and in the public on a regular basis," Cr Cosgrove said.

The matter came up again during public question time at the council meeting, with Rebbecca Thorpe asking whether ratepayers had to pay for the police presence. Cr Cosgrove said she had answered the question during the community forum but would do so again for the benefit of the audio recording.

"No, council do not have to pay for a police presence," Cr Cosgrove said. "Obviously Tas Police provide a service to the greater community and that is to ensure presence at a variety of events in our municipality for the safety not only of ratepayers but for the members of the public."

The public gallery at tonight's meeting.
Ms Thorpe then asked whether police were present for other council meetings around Hobart, and both Cr Cosgrove and acting general manager Margaret Johns said this was the case. "The community police liaison department actually take an interest in community matters and they attend meetings when they think that there might be something on the agenda that is of interest to the community where there might be a large gathering taking place," Ms Johns said, adding that such visits were not necessarily scheduled.

Ms Thorpe asked whether the attendance at tonight's meeting had been specifically requested and Ms Johns said she could not answer that. In response to a further question Cr Cosgrove and Ms Johns repeated that they did not know if someone had requested the police attendance.

Police officers were present at three council meetings in June and August last year. Police also attended last month's council meeting on a matter unrelated to council business.

Emergency roadshow this Saturday

Click image to enlarge.
AN emergency management roadshow will roll into New Norfolk this Saturday to provide information on the services available during and after a flood or other disaster.

The roadshow is making its way around four southern municipalities worst affected by last year's floods. The first stop was at Kingborough, to be followed by Derwent Valley, and then Glenorchy and Hobart in the weeks ahead.

Derwent Valley Council emergency management officer David Bradford says the local expo will be held at the New Norfolk War Memorial Hall from 9am-noon this Saturday, September 21.

"Four councils applied for a grant and were successful to run four emergency roadshows," Mr Bradford said. "The grants were from the Southern Tasmanian Extreme Weather Events community recovery and resilience grants."

The funding allows the Kingborough, Hobart City, Derwent Valley and Glenorchy City councils to conduct the "emergency roadshows" visiting the four municipalities worst affected by the May 2018 floods, to provide information to communities on the services available to them during and after a flood or other disaster.

Entry will be free and visitors will be able to meet and greet emergency services crews and learn a thing or two about being prepared for an emergency.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Mayor pens open letter on bridge issue

Today's front page of the Mercury newspaper,
reporting that three mayors were questioning
whether a new Bridgewater Bridge was value
for money.
IN response to an article in the Mercury today, Derwent Valley mayor Ben Shaw has written an open letter urging the State Government to hold to its promises on the proposed replacement for the Bridgewater Bridge.

“It is extremely disappointing that mayors Reynolds, Johnston and Winter see it as a reasonable option to suggest repurposing funding that has been promised for years. Funding that will directly improve the lives of thousands within the Derwent Valley and Brighton communities, and to rechannel it to other projects in the Greater Hobart area," Cr Shaw said in his letter, authorised for release today by Derwent Valley Council acting general manager Margaret Johns. The following has been lightly edited for clarity.

"The promised funding for the new Bridgewater Bridge is paramount to supporting the ongoing growth of the areas the bridge feeds into; Derwent Valley, Brighton, and the subsequent flow on effect through the Southern Midlands and Central Highlands.

"Economically, this bridge is a thoroughfare for freight, and as volumes increase to support ongoing industry growth, the current bridge is already failing to meet traffic demands. Every day bottlenecks at either end of the bridge, and long lines of traffic, show how urgently the bridge is in need of expansion.

"When the lift mechanism of the bridge went out of action a decade ago, it severely restricted public access to the river. Historically, there were steamboat races and sailing regattas that would sail up the Derwent and visit New Norfolk and the Upper Derwent Valley. In the bridge’s current state, those activities are no more.

"Using the funding promised would allow a new bridge design that would enable the river highway to be re-opened, and provide another form of transport for residents and tourists to utilise. It would allow for a dual carriageway that is needed to handle the increasing traffic demands on this important piece of infrastructure that serves hundreds of thousands of residents and tourists every year.

"When they signed the Hobart City Deal, the Greater Hobart mayors knew this funding was included and allocated for the Bridgewater Bridge upgrade. Attempting to take this funding sends a very clear message – that the communities of Derwent Valley, Brighton and our northern neighbours of Central Highlands and Southern Midlands are not as important as those in the Greater Hobart council areas.

"On behalf of the communities impacted, I call on the State Government not to bend to these demands, to do the right thing by the communities impacted, and fund the new Bridgewater Bridge as promised, as soon as possible. I feel that if this is not funded soon, after many years’ promises, it will never be.”

Mayor appoints acting general manager

THE Derwent Valley Council has its second acting chief executive in as many months, with a Hobart City Council officer yesterday appointed to stand in as general manager.

Council communications officer Daniel Cheetham said mayor Ben Shaw had appointed Margaret Johns to serve as acting general manager while Greg Winton is on leave. The appointment is until October 1.

Ms Johns has been with the DVC on secondment since September 5, in the role of acting executive manager of corporate and community services, until the council completes the recruitment of a deputy general manager. Her role at the HCC is group manager of city government and customer service.

In July, Daniel Smee of the Kingborough Council was seconded to serve as the Derwent Valley Council's acting general manager when Mr Winton stood aside  during an investigation into the poisoning of birdlife at Tynwald Park, New Norfolk.

The council will hold a community forum and the monthly council meeting tomorrow evening (Thursday) at the Bushy Park War Memorial Swimming Pool, starting with the community Forum at 5.30pm and the council meeting at 6pm. Download agenda documents here.

Thursday frost warning

Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology

Frost Warning
for the Upper Derwent Valley and South East forecast districts

Issued at 4:19 pm on Wednesday 18 September 2019.

Frosts with temperatures down to 0 degrees are forecast for Thursday morning in parts of the Upper Derwent Valley and South East forecast districts.

Please be aware: Temperatures at ground level can be many degrees lower than those recorded by standard weather stations, especially in calm conditions with clear skies.

No further warnings will be issued for this event.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Upgrade for Derwent Valley power station

Hydro Tasmania has upgraded the Repulse Power Station.
IMPROVEMENTS to power stations in the Derwent Valley are expected to increase hydroelectricity generation by more than 80 gigawatt hours a year by 2021.

Visiting Repulse Power Station near Ouse on Monday, Energy Minister Guy Barnett said this was another step in the work to prepare Tasmania to become the "Battery of the Nation".

The power station was commissioned in 1967, with its adjacent concrete arched dam on the River Derwent which creates a small water storage known as Lake Repulse. Water passes through the station's single turbine and back into the river via Cluny Lagoon.

Mr Barnett said the Repulse upgrade would eliminate the risk of an oil spill in the power station by replacing the turbine’s oil hub with a new water-filled hub, and making the station more flexible and reliable with a modern control system.

The improvements are part of a major upgrade of Hydro Tasmania’s Derwent system, which is expected to increase electricity generation by more than 80 gigawatt hours each year by 2021, supporting plans to make Tasmania the "Battery of the Nation".

Hydro Tasmania chief operations officer Jesse Clark said the company's 10-year strategic asset management plan guided continuing investment to ensure the state's hydropower assets remain fit for purpose.

“In the year just ended, we invested around $105 million in generation assets, including the Repulse upgrade,” Mr Clark said. “Prior to Repulse, we invested $28.5 million in upgrading the Cluny Power Station," he said.

“Projects like this are about getting the most generation we can out of our existing hydropower assets by boosting efficiency and reliability. Longer term, the Battery of the Nation (BotN) vision involves major projects like pumped hydro storage but this work also plays a vital part.

Energy Minister Guy Barnett, left, with Hydro Tasmania
workers at Repulse Power Station near Ouse.
“The opportunities forecast to flow from BotN include thousands of jobs in regional Tasmania. With those job opportunities comes the need for industry and the education and training sector to work together to make our young people ‘job-ready’ when the employment opportunities arrive.

“Understanding what our future workforce will look like is one of our current challenges and, as a major employer in the state, Hydro Tasmania has a role to play in creating opportunities for the future workforce."

Mr Clark said the Hydro Tasmania had a strong history of offering apprenticeships and there were presently four positions available for trainees in the Derwent Valley, closing this Sunday. Click here for details.

'No decisions' at closed meeting

NO decisions were made during yesterday's Special Closed Meeting at the Derwent Valley Council, mayor Ben Shaw said last night. "Essentially we used it for advice," he said in a brief statement.

Seven councillors and a lawyer met behind closed doors for more than an hour, with Cr Julie Triffett absent due to illness. The public is not permitted to attend closed meetings and their purpose can only be disclosed if the council votes to do so.

The council will meet again this Thursday for a community forum and the monthly council meeting.

Thursday, September 19, 2019: Community Forum at the Bushy Park War Memorial Swimming Pool, Gordon River Rd, Bushy Park, 5.30pm. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019: Council Meeting at the Bushy Park War Memorial Swimming Pool, Gordon River Rd, Bushy Park, 6pm. Download agenda documents here.