President's Message

Linda ScottNew code of meeting practice; compulsory webcasting introduced – Compulsory webcasting of council meetings is a key change under the new code of meeting practice, released by the NSW Government today. NSW councils support every opportunity for open, transparent government, however many of you have told us compulsory webcasting is a concern for regional and remote areas with little or no internet access. On your behalf we have expressed concern about the need for the NSW Government to prioritise the issues that matter. 

I encourage members to email LGNSW Legal Officer Jessica Wood with any questions about the new code.

Investment in recycling welcome, but more needed – In good news for recycling this week the NSW Government pledged $115,000 to divert 11 million disposable coffee cups from going to landfill within a year. While we welcomed this news, our Save Our Recycling campaign is urging the NSW Government to go much further and reinvest the millions of dollars it collects via the waste levy into waste management and recycling. We have a real opportunity to create a circular economy by reusing more of our own waste, with the added potential of job creation in a modern, smart, homegrown environmental and recycling industry. Contact LGNSW Environment Strategy Manager Susy Cenedese to find out how your council can be more involved with the Save our Recycling campaign.

Meeting the new deputy leader of the Opposition; talking waste levy – Today, we had the opportunity to discuss waste and recycling with Penny Sharpe MLC, the newly-elected deputy leader of the Opposition and Labor’s environment spokesperson. To ensure we are raising issues important to your council at future meetings, please email Susy Cenedese, Environment Strategy Manager, LGNSW.

Sharing knowledge, experience and ideas – We welcomed delegates from far and wide to LGNSW’s annual HR Conference in Sydney this week. The large turnout reflected the growing significance of the management of our people and workplace cultures in local government. Speakers provided great insights on the evolving workforce and current and future skills needs. We are developing a national careers website to highlight the diversity of jobs in local government and associated training, due for launch early next year. We’ll keep you posted!

Local Government Workforce and Future Skills Reports released – We’re proud to have worked with our state and territory counterparts on new ground-breaking research about the state of our current local government workforce and the future skills needs for our workforce to thrive. We will use these reports to advocate for the investment in skills needed to support the local government workforce, and we urge you to do the same.

Court ruling on land categorisation a win for our sector; for now – In a win for local governments across the state, the City of Sydney, Bayside and North Sydney councils this week received a favourable decision from the Court of Appeal on rating categorisation issues involving several Meriton companies. The court held that during the period from the beginning of construction of residential flat and serviced apartment buildings until the issue of an occupation certificate, the land should be rated as business, not residential, supporting the councils’ position. We welcome the ruling, which follows a resolution during our 2017 annual conference to call upon the NSW Government to clarify the statutory and regulatory rating provisions regarding land categorisation. A big thank you to the many NSW councils who have financially supported this appeal, and we await word on whether the matter will be appealed before the High Court before resolving the future of the contributions. Please contact LGNSW Legal Officer Jessica Wood with any questions. 

Supporting your planning needs – The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has been holding working groups for councils on the preparation of local strategic planning statements. Staff attending have suggested similar sessions would be useful for councillors given the significant implications of these statements. In response we have organised a workshop for mayors and councillors (Sydney, 5 December). Find out more and book online.

There’s still time to register for our upcoming planning breakfast (Sydney, 27 November) to discuss maintaining open space for communities in the face of population growth and increased housing density in the company of NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts. Register online today.

Finally, my visits to metropolitan councils continued this week with Inner West and City of Canada Bay councils sharing their thoughts on how we can work together more effectively.

Linda Scott at Canada Bay Council

 

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Five Million Trees for Greater Sydney

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Councils in Greater Sydney are encouraged to apply for a Five Million Trees grant to support tree-planting projects in streets, parks, bushland areas and yards.

While some areas of Sydney such as the northern suburbs have more than 50 per cent tree canopy, the west and south have less.

In response, Five Million Trees aims to increase Greater Sydney’s overall tree canopy to 40 per cent by 2030.

The NSW Government has allocated $6 million in 2018/19 to fund upcoming tree-planting projects. Grants will be awarded on a matched dollar-for-dollar basis.

Find out more and apply online by 3pm, 21 December 2018.

A grant information session will be next Wednesday, 21 November, from 10-12pm in Parramatta to provide more information on the application process. Register online.

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Rapid Assessment Methodology and EcoRoadside Training

LGNSW will hold training sessions for councils on conducting conservation value assessments of roadside areas using the rapid assessment methodology and capturing data using the EcoRoadside app (Penrith, 4 December and Wagga Wagga,11 December).

Participants will learn how to:

  • source and access existing information about roadside reserves, including maps, reports and databases
  • use rapid assessment methodology to assess roadside reserves
  • use the EcoRoadside App to undertake field-based assessments.

Limited places are available to councils free of charge.

Register online for the Penrith and Wagga Wagga sessions.

For more information email Kathy Godfrey, Council Roadside Reserves Project Officer, LGNSW.

This project is supported by the NSW Government’s Environmental Trust.

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Biodiversity Values Map

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The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has updated the Biodiversity Values Map, which identifies land with high biodiversity value that is particularly sensitive to impacts from development and clearing.

The map forms part of the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme threshold, one of the triggers for determining whether offsets must apply to a clearing or development proposal.

Updates to the map include coastal management mapping and addition of core koala habitat in some local government areas.

Find out more and download a fact sheet outlining the changes from the OEH website.

OEH is preparing guidelines for councils on contributing land to the map, which are expected by mid-2019.

Contact: OEH’s map review team by email or call 02 6360 9000.

Photo: NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

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OEH Customer Satisfaction Survey

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) is encouraging councils to complete its annual customer satisfaction survey to understand how well it meets customers’ needs and expectations, and how it can improve its services.

The survey, which was sent to councils last week, closes on Friday 30 November.

LGNSW encourages members to complete the survey to improve OEH’s interaction with local government.  

For more information email Rohit Mandanna, Program Manager, OEH.

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Everyone Can Play in NSW Grants

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Councils can apply for grants through the $4 million Everyone Can Play in NSW program to renew, renovate and build inclusive playgrounds.

The program aims to:

  • fund inclusive play spaces across NSW by partnering with councils to design and construct new and upgraded play spaces
  • make long-term changes to the planning and design of play spaces in NSW by educating those who manage and design them.

Funding will be available to councils via a competitive grant process where councils are required to match the funding on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

Applications are open until 21 December 2018.

Find out more and apply online.

Contact: Linda Smith, Office of Open Space and Parklands, 02 8275 1084.

Photo: Proludic

New Regional Planning Commissioners

Two new regional commissioners – Miriam Dayhew and Frank Holles – have been appointed to provide independent and expert advice on regional planning issues, including the development of local plans.

They will also:

  • work collaboratively with the Department of Environment and Planning’s regional teams to provide advice and support, and assist in resolving issues
  • coordinate state, federal and local government efforts and work collaboratively with stakeholders to support regional planning objectives, deliver regional projects and infrastructure
  • engage and partner with community groups to facilitate good regional outcomes and ensure the concerns of regional communities are properly incorporated into government programs, and
  • ensure greater transparency and accountability in planning decisions.

The department is also recruiting a NSW coastal regions commissioner.

For further information see the departmental media release.

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Review of Prices for Valuer General’s Services to Councils

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The NSW Premier has asked the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to determine the maximum prices the Valuer General can charge councils for the provision of land valuation services for six years, from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2025.  

IPART has asked the Valuer General to submit its pricing proposal by 30 November 2018, for publication on IPART’s website. 

An issues paper on the review process is open for comment, with submissions due by 11 January 2019.

Find out more and have your say.

Stakeholders will also have the opportunity to attend a public hearing on 12 February 2019 and comment on a draft report in April 2019.

IPART is required to provide a final report and determination by 31 May 2019.

LGNSW is preparing a submission on behalf of the sector. To provide input, email Mark Hely, Senior Policy Officer, LGNSW, by 22 December 2018.

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Review of Road Safety Issues for Future Inquiry

The joint standing committee on road safety (Staysafe) has issued a report recommending two inquiries be undertaken during the term of the next parliament.

In response to 34 submissions, the committee proposed that these inquiries consider community-specific road safety campaigning and examine the road safety benefits of compulsory first aid training for learner drivers.

The committee also recommended that a submission from the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia, arguing that an ongoing shortfall in funding has led to a deterioration in the condition of local roads and a corresponding deterioration in the safety of the local road network, be considered.

Read the full review.

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