Letter to the newly elected Councillors of Central Coast Council

Central Coast Council Chambers

49 Mann St

Gosford  2250

Mayor Jane Smith, Deputy Mayor Chris Holstein, Councillor Richard Mehrtens, Councillor Troy Marquart, Councillor Rebecca Gale Collins, Councillor Jeff Sundstrom, Councillor Lisa Matthews, Councillor Jilly Pilon, Councillor Bruce McLachlan, Councillor Kyle MacGregor, Councillor Louise Greenaway, Councillor Chris Burke, Councillor Doug Vincent, Councillor Jillian Hogan, Councillor Greg Best

 

Dear Mayor Jane Smith and Councillors

Congratulations on your recent election as the first Mayor and Councillors for the new Central Coast Council.

This is a very important and exciting time for our region and I am looking forward to great things from your Council.

As you may be aware, I ran in the recent elections as an Independent candidate for Gosford West Ward.  It was a privilege to spend the six weeks of the election campaign meeting with local residents, attending comity forums and learning about the many issues and challenges facing our precious region.

Having received almost 3,000 votes with no preference deals, I feel it my duty to continue to represent my community and bring our issues and concerns directly to you.

Throughout my campaign, I took the time to host and attend community engagement sessions and speak one on one with a number of local community members, in this letter I will share some of the issues raised by the community in these meetings. 

I have also lived on the Central Coast for over seventeen years and run two cafe businesses for over seven years, where I have daily interaction with the grass roots comity. This has given me a very unique and direct link to the social, economic, environmental and community aspirations and opportunities for the Central Coast and Gosford West Ward in particular.

I have broken the topics down into subject categories and I have included immediate Council solutions for these issues where relevant.

I would like to invite you to meet our community at a community forum to be held at my cafe, to discuss these topics and more with us directly. I hope you can attend the meeting as it will provide a great opportunity for the residents of Gosford West Ward to get to know you.

 

Making the Central Coast the best region to live in Australia

The Central Coast is a magnificent part of the world and as the gateway to the Central Coast, Gosford West Ward is a particularly important region. From our forests, farmlands, Indigenous heritage and UNESCO World Heritage Rock Art, to our ancient aquifers, our waterways, beaches, national parks and unique ecosystems, The Mountains District, the Peninsula and Brisbane Waters are all unique and fragile ecosystems facing growing pressure from urbanisation, waste dumping and excessive resource extraction.

It is essential that Central Coast Council develops an integrated, enforceable and forward thinking 25 year strategy for the whole of the Central Coast, that preserves the unique ecosystems, village communities, natural environmental assets and cultural heritage of our region.  

Such a plan would ensure we maintain and improve our region’s natural beauty, protect and restore threatened habitats, ecosystems and species, at the same accommodating population growth and the growth of our economy as an international tourism destination and a thriving business hub, providing long-term job creation and economic development that does not trash our environment or negatively affect the way we live as a community.

Located just two hours north of Sydney, the Central Coast is set to grow into a thriving economic hub in the near future.  Council has a duty to implement a masterplan for this development and population increase that ensures we maintain and enhance our local natural beauty, our laid back coastal lifestyle, our primary producing land as the food bowl for the Central Coast and Sydney and that all new development is well planned, well executed and minimises impacts on our social and natural heritage and culture.

Council needs to roll-out initiatives that help to enhance and build our community pride in our region.  From anti-littering campaigns, to positive messages and information strategies and resources that assist residents and visitors alike to appreciate our natural environment and our suburbs and CBDs and take ownership and pride in protecting and improving these areas, rather than trashing them. 

Council needs to design and enforce sensitive and strategic urban development plans for our increasing population - development which builds and encourages healthy and liveable communities.

Council needs to ensure the Central Coast preserves the character and charm of our local communities through sensitive development control plans and a strong protection of our history and heritage, as we grow and develop.

Council needs to seriously and genuinely implement strategies and initiatives that encourage environmental, social and economic sustainability for the Central Coast.

Council needs to establish plans that ensure the preservation and enhancement of our precious national parks, coastal open spaces , Crown land and reserves.

Council needs to build on our reputation as an international tourist destination.

What your constituents are saying: 

“There should be a community plan/vision for the next 10-20 years. Woy Woy is definitely in a state of disrepair and could do with re-invigorating....but we must balance development with maintaining the coastal village feel... there's a big DA @ Sporties.... there's a big 5 story DA for West street. how do they fit that plan? although quite big, I don't mind the concept for the leagues club as much as the 5 story on west st... but I think the most important part is establishing that plan of what we want Woy Woy to grow into (and Ettalong, and Umina, etc).”

"6am walking the dog..Howes Road Somersby. This is what residents value about our community ... imagine this image sliced up by Kariong styled residential development or an industrial site. Worth fighting for."

“We need more shade on the Peninsula.” 

“We need more shade in the Peninsula Recreation Precinct.”

“We need more bins on Umina Beach. Two bins in front of the surf club is not enough.” 

“We need smart bins on the beach with recycling lids and recycling options.”

“We want to be the Tidiest Council, the Cleanest Council, Plastic Bag Free!!.”

“South Umina Creek is all choked up and the creek is stagnant.” 

“Rubbish from the caravan park is polluting the local creek.”
“What’s happening to stop the beach erosion?”

“What’s happening to our COS (Coastal Open Space land), our land held in trust by Council for our community and our Crown land? We want these areas preserved and we want transparent and accessible disclosure of how Trust funds and Crown land are managed by Council.”

“Woy Woy Bay is silting up, what will Council do about this?”

 

Stimulating meaningful local job creation

We are Australia’s largest commuting population. Over 55% of our employed residents leave the Central Coast for work every day.  In addition, the majority of our tertiary students commute outside the Central Coast for their training and a growing number of high school students also commute to Sydney for their education.

Central Coast Council has a huge responsibility to actively and strategically engage our community in conversations around economic development for our region.  

We need a master plan for the economic development of our region.  This would include identifying problems and opportunities and actively working towards solutions for among other things:

  • Protecting our rural lands and developing sustainable and growth strategies for our primary producers to allow for our farmers and fisherfolk to stay in business, earn good incomes and maintain their lands and fisheries in sustainable and long term food production.
  • Genuinely working towards the establishment of an international class university for the Central Coast, a university that will attract local and international talent, both in the staff and the students, a university that will revitalise Gosford CBD and put the Central Coast on the global map as a place for intellectual innovation, creativity and cultural excellence.
  • Attracting environmentally sustainable and ‘smart’, ‘tech’ industries to set-up shop on the Central Coast, bringing desirable employers to the region and reducing the brain drain of our commuters out of the region.
  • Supporting and encouraging local start-up businesses.
  • Developing real and immediate solutions to activating dead economic zones for example in Woy Woy and Gosford CBD and encouraging local entrepreneurs to build creative and exciting new industries and businesses in economic dead zones - learning from Newcastle and other cities that have faced the same challenges. 
  • Identifying the sorts of jobs our residents commute to Sydney to do and investigating ways to bring these jobs to the Coast.
  • Improving mobile and internet services on the Central Coast to allow for long-distance and work from home opportunities for local residents.
  • Working with local hospitality businesses to develop a robust and successful tourism strategy for our region.
  • Providing youth counselling and careers services to assist struggling students to finish their education and go on to tertiary education and /or assist teenagers into a local and meaningful career paths from school.

 

What your constituents are saying:

“We need to be globally competitive.”  

“We need to be supporting and encouraging entrepreneurship, enterprise, employment and incubating new businesses.”

“We need to attract high-value jobs to the Central Coast.”

“We need to lift the profile of the Central Coast.”   “Central Coast Council needs to be visionary and strategic in its planning and thinking.”  

“Collaboration is the key to bringing innovators together.” “We need investment in social enterprise.” 

“Council needs to connect innovators and local entrepreneurs.” 

“Council is not doing enough to stimulate the local economy. Woy Woy is dying and there’s not enough support for our local economy.”

“The ATO is promising local jobs, but how true is this?”

 

Building footpaths and bike paths and improving our roads

Provision of footpaths and bike paths is a basic Council responsibility.  The lack of adequate drainage, footpaths and bike paths on the Peninsula is a disgrace and a major topic of consternation for local residents.  

During my election campaign, I learnt that residents are being charged for footpaths that are laid outside their homes, on top of their annual rates. This seems outrageous.  In addition, whilst walking around the Peninsula door knocking, I witnessed the ridiculous and nonsensical approach to construction of footpaths, some of which lead nowhere, some of which only run for a few meters and then stop, some of which are provided only on one side father road… the list goes on.  These are symptoms of a clearly unplanned and un-strategic investment in infrastructure. 

This sort of haphazard approach to infrastructure development will always be much more costly and less beneficial than a fully planned, costed and budgeted strategy for infrastructure investment in a region with a clearly determined purpose.

Footpaths and drainage solutions are of massive importance to the residents of the Peninsula. 

What your constituents are saying:

“I have footpath envy.” 

“Melbourne Avenue needs footpaths, the traffic is too dangerous.” 

“Footpaths have massive ramifications, we want them on the Peninsula.” 

“We don’t want footpaths in Pearl Beach.” 

“We don’t want footpaths in Booker Bay, we like to keep our green verges, but we do need drainage solutions.” 

“We need footpaths on Barrenjoey Road - it’s really dangerous for the elderly and parents with prams.”  

“Mackenzie Avenue in Woy Woy urgently needs its drainage fixed.” 

“The roads and pot holes on the Central Coast need urgent repair.”

“Council hasn’t finished the cycle path between Blackwall Rd and Barrenjoey Rd. It just stops.”

“Street gutters need to be cleaned regularly to stop flooding issues.”

“Council needs to fix and finish the pathway between pearl Beach and Umina.”

“How is Council planning for population growth in our region?”

 

Improving public transport on the Coast - it’s a matter of life and death

Public transport is an essential service and a contentious topic for the Central Coast.

Our bus services are too far and few between and often the trips are too long and slow.  For example, for a resident living in Patonga, it takes an hour to get to the shops in Umina, a drive that makes only 15 minutes.  For most suburbs on the Peninsula, public transport is slow, inefficient and unattractive.

Our population is increasing rapidly and with it, so are the numbers of cars on our roads.  It is now common to see traffic jams in Woy Woy and Umina. Along Empire Bay Drive to Avoca Drive, from Bensville to Kincumber, the daily traffic jam backs up in the mornings from The Coast Christian School, all the way to Kincumber Public School, for several hours.

Peninsula based commuters have also raised the urgent need for a better commuter access solutions for cars driving between the Peninsula and Kariong.

Our reliance on cars as our primary mode of transport leads to the needless loss of valuable lives every year, from accidents on the M1, to the increasing instance of car accidents on our roads.  Too many young drivers are dying on our roads. 

In addition of dependence on cars in increasing our carbon footprint, increasing noise pollution, air pollution and contributing to climate change, sea level rise.  Our dependence on cars as our main mode of transport is threatening our highly prized, loved and valuable coastal lifestyle.

An efficient, affordable and accessible public transport network will provide safe and affordable transport options, at the same time, saving the environment, saving our roads from congestion and saving lives.  The social and economic benefits of a well planned and well implemented public transport network for the Central Coast will be revolutionary for our region.

Areas for public transport improvement that arose in my community consultation included the need and desire for:

  • improved and more efficient public transport.
  • covered bus shelters to protect commuters from sun and rain.
  • community transport.
  • smaller busses with shorter and  / or more flexible routes for commuters.
  • using modern technologies to design efficient and commuter centric mini bus services that are fast, on demand and run on ‘green’ fuels.
  • improved ferry services to and from Palm Beach.
  • actual coordination of bus, ferry and train timetables to allow for smooth and time efficient commuting.
  • better public transport to our hospitals.
  • providing footpaths and crossings for pedestrians.
  • more bike paths on roads.
  • accessible entry and exit points to our train stations.

Another major issue is the need for upgraded and more regular train services to Sydney for our growing commuting population.  

Over 52,000 commuters use Woy Woy station every week.

Most of the train services going to Sydney are with old rail stock, uncomfortable carriages, lack of toilets, lack of security and lack of seating.  Four Car train services are completely insufficient for the size of the commuting population. 

Central Coast commuters are left to compete with Sydney commuters for seats on trains.

The Central Coast deserves:

  • a fast and efficient dedicated commuter service to Sydney for our daily commuters with express services to Central via both the North Shore line and the Strathfield line, that exclude Sydney commuters from overcrowding the carriages.
  • a guaranteed commuter train service on the Newcastle line with increased services and improved timetables, that is not threatened with being compromised by new Sydney train timetables and plans.
  • comfortable carriages.
  • adequate provision of seating and clean toilets.
  • security guards on trains.
  • a service that is fast and reliable and not compromised by constant track work and weather conditions which currently halt service.
  • fully accessible train stations and trains.

Central Coast Council must be a constant advocate for State and Federal investment in our public transport infrastructure.

We need immediate and long-term solutions to improving our connections to Sydney and to each other.

Central Coast Council needs to establish a task force to design a state of the art public transport solution for the Central Coast, with a 50 year plan to bring our region into the future and ensure the Central Coast is a safe, liveable and environmentally sustainable region with a world class public transport network.

Council has a duty of care and a huge responsibility to invest in the design, planning and investment in real and efficient and affordable public transport options for our region to make the Central Coast a safe, liveable, green and world class region to live, commute and do business.

What your constituents are saying: 

“We need coordinated bus and train timetables and off peak-hour services for local travel.”

“We need better public transport to our hospitals.” 

“We need signs on footpaths for cyclist etiquette e.g. ‘ring your bell when approaching a pedestrian’.

“We need bike paths on our roads.”

“We need a solution to the traffic outside Mcdonalds in Umina.” 

“How can we make Woy Woy Road safe?”

“What happened to the Woy Woy underpass?”

“We need a long term solution to keeping the channel open at the mouth of  Brisbane Waters to allow the ferry and the boats to move through freely.”

“Gabby, will you support the existing council plan to dredge the Ettalong channel and repair Umina Beach?, recent cancellations of the ferry service have caused disruption to workers, school kids and economic impact to business. Also council studies that identify dredging of areas in Brisbane Waters to maintain navigation and ferry services?”

 

Providing real and fulfilling opportunities for young people, families and our ageing population. Promoting and encouraging healthy community development and maintaining and improving Council’s community services

There’s not enough for our community to do on the Peninsula. 

We need more:

  • community gathering spaces.
  • activated community hubs.
  • festivals.
  • clubs and workshops.
  • free and affordable before and after school care facilities.
  • free, affordable, relevant and accessible learning and training opportunities for people of al ages and interests, based on the Peninsula.
  • more free and affordable community arts and music facilities.
  • free and affordable school holiday activities on the Peninsula.
  • more pedestrian friendly streetscapes.
  • more shade in our local parks.
  • improved remediation of our coastal walks, look-outs and sand dune vegetation on our beautiful beaches.
  • more opportunities for residents of all ages to get out of the house, off their computers and smart devices and engage with each other in meaningful and fun ways.
  • more small street stalls.
  • more counselling services.
  • more community health services.
  • more respite care alternatives and solutions for primary carers.
  • more accessible transport and footpaths for our less mobile members of the community.
  • a TAFE based in Woy Woy.
  • more innovative programs that bring local businesses and unemployed people together to help stimulate our economy and provide lasting employment and economic solutions for the Peninsula.
  • more local community media and information sharing services.

the list goes on….

What your constituents are saying:

“We need more community events in the Peninsula Recreation Precinct (PRP). There used to be New Year’s Eve 9pm fireworks. There used to be a fair on Melbourne Avenue but this was stopped because the cost of insurance was too high.”

“Umina Beach Markets are great, we need more events like this in the PRP.”

“We need BBQs for kids in the park (Peninsula Recreation Precinct) during holiday times.” 

“We need youth centres for kids on the Peninsula and dedicated funding for this.”

“What is the teenager population on the Peninsula?”

“I’m concerned for teenage boys. They’re warriors without armour, they’re lost, they don't know their place.”  

“We need to find common interests to engage our teenagers.”

“Families need support.”

“We need more opportunities of men to gather together, like the men’s sheds, but more such initiatives that engage men on other topics of common interest.”

“We feel forgotten here in Umina.”

“It's not just women and children who are homeless - there's plenty of men out there too.”

 

Addressing the doctor shortage crisis on the Peninsula and in Gosford West Ward

The Peninsula is facing a GP crisis with closed books in most surgeries, an ageing GP workforce and a growing population. We urgently need more GPs on the Peninsula and we need a long-term strategy for attracting and keeping good doctors and specialists on the Peninsula and on the Central Coast. 

Our existing GPs need assistance with succession planning and overall, we need more and improved services to deal with the growing community health pressures facing the Peninsula, including: 

  • mental health.
  • drug and alcohol addiction.
  • youth suicide.
  • obesity.
  • aged care.
  • domestic violence & child sexual assault.
  • homelessness.
  • Aboriginal health care funding.
  • orthopaedic and neurosurgical services for patients without health insurance.

Council needs to play an active and focussed role in addressing this GP and medical resources shortage. 

Immediate steps for solving this problem include:

  • Having the Peninsula recognised as a DWS (District Work Shortage) area to allow for OTDs (Overseas Trained Doctors) to work on the Peninsula, as is the case in Erina and Terrigal.
  • Working closely with Gosford Hospital to secure finding and investment for improved specialist services at Gosford Hospital including a 7 day a week fractures clinic.
  • Lobbying for more funding for health services on the Central Coast.
  • Investing in more bike paths and foot paths on the Peninsula to make walking and riding bikes safer and easier.
  • Conducting public education campaigns around healthy lifestyles.
  • Making our parks safe to use and exercise in at night.
  • Funding long term well funded and solutions oriented community health services located on the Peninsula, for young people, women, homeless people and families struggling with mental health, drug issues and domestic violence.
  • Funding local sports clubs and team events.
  • Providing ongoing funding and investment in the Live Life Get Active free personal training. initiative that in Umina, is the most successful of its kind in NSW. But which currently has no trainer for the registered participants.
  • Improving Council support services for primary carers of people in child care people with disabilities & aged care.

 

Ensuring Central Coast Council is a customer service oriented, accountable, professional and transparent organisation, serving its residents and using our resources for the best long term outcomes for our community

I ran as an independent candidate for Central Coast Council because in my very strong opinion, Council is completely out of touch and untouchable from its ratepayers, residents and visitors.

I am sick of rolling my eyes and biting my tongue in frustration, despair, incredulity and complete exasperation experienced when confronted with Council’s stupid, ill-planned, out of touch, wasteful, draconian and poorly conceived plans and initiatives.

Central Coast Council has become an inaccessible, out of touch and highly corporately geared entity that is not working for its community, or in the best interests of our future.

Council needs to open itself up to the community, participate in real community listening and engagement and pay attention to global trends and global best practice for local government services and governance.

Council’s recent and past decisions such as:

  • allowing the continuation of an illegal waste dump on the former Mangrove Mountain RSL land, that is polluting our water reservoir, and not shutting it down immediately.
  • allowing mining in the Mountain District that has seriously compromised our region’s water supply and our primary producer’s ability to farm food.
  • allowing the over development of the Peninsula with a rash of granny flats.
  • not planning properly for the services required to sustain a healthy growing population.
  • threatening and even implementing the sale of community land held in trust.
  • threatening the sale and privatisation of Patonga Camping Ground.
  • allowing our parks, such as the Peninsula Recreation Precinct to be a site of mob warfare, crime and violence and not acting on basic precautions to prevent this.
  • changing DA laws so that residents have no idea that their neighbours are building an imposing development until it’s too late.
  • corporatising Council services and procedures and making Council activities inaccessible and oblique.
  • investing community and rate payer’s money in shifty investments instead of into our community facilities.
  • not taking climate change seriously.
  • allowing coastal development that threatens the health and safety of our waterways and beach fronts from erosion and seal level rise.
  • removing commuter car parks from Woy Woy and fining commuters for parking their cars and taking the train to work.
  • cutting essential youth services.
  • cutting back parks and gardens maintenance teams to a skeleton of what is required for the job.
  • cutting back essential property maintenance teams and instead hiring bureaucrats to bully Council tenants.
  • selling off community tennis courts, community halls and increasing community rents for community facilities to a degree that it is making it impossible for these essential community services to exist.
  • allowing the over concentration of chicken coupes on the Mountain to threaten the local environment and impact the quality of life for local residents.
  • threatening the viability of the Crommelin Native Arboretum by charging volunteers tip fees to take fallen trees to the tip, not assisting volunteers with the massive landscape maintenance jobs required to maintain the site, increasing rates and other operating costs for this important community resource, threatening the viability of a koala habitat here on the Peninsula, by not funding this important initiative and supporting the work of the volunteers.
  • allowing the unnecessary and very damaging felling of native trees, habitats for native birds and animals to continuously ruin our neighbourhoods.
  • ignoring the growing social problems facing our local communities.
  • ignoring the fact the the Central Cost has one of the highest obesity rates in the world.
  • ignoring the fact that the Peninsula has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in NSW.
  • ignoring the increasing homeless population on the Peninsula and across the Central Coast.
  • ignoring the need for the stimulation of our local economy especially in Woy Woy and Gosford.
  • ignoring the need to provide basic services for young people.
  • ignoring the need to provide footpaths and adequate drainage on the Peninsula.
  • ignoring its community.
  • employing Council staff with known connections to corrupt activities.
  • employing corporate minded staff with an interest in privatising community facilities and turning Council into a corporation instead of being a community focussed and community serving local government service.
  • hiding money trails of land held in trust and Crown land trust funds.
  • being complicit in illegal waste dumping and working with waste contractors that do not actually recycle our waste or dispose of it in environmentally sustainable or legal ways.
  • being inactive and complicit as vital native habitat for endangered birds, plants, animals and ecosystems on the Central Coast face extinction and mass destruction.
  • allowing the wanton destruction and degradation of valuable and highly sensitive native Aboriginal rock carvings and sacred sites.

the list is endless… and it demonstrates how out of touch Council has become.

As the first Councillors for the new Central Coast Council, you have the opportunity and the responsibility to ensure Central Coast Council is a customer service oriented, accountable, professional and transparent organisation, serving its residents and using our resources for the best long term outcomes for our community.

 

What your constituents are saying:

“We don’t support the sale of land held in trust by Council or the sale of Crown Land.”

“Don’t sell the land opposite the high school for a retirement village.”

“We need holiday traffic plans.”

“We need to get the flags back on West St.” 

“Council’s planning rules are crazy!”

“Local residents and neighbours need to be informed by letter with a time to respond to DA’s that affect them.”

“Situations like the ones uncovered on 4 Corners, about rubbish dumping on the banks of the Hawkesbury in Spencer and the Mangrove Mountain Landfill, are evidence of failures by Gosford City Council in compliance monitoring and governance.”

“What changes do you think are essential to ensure the new Central Coast Council’s actions are transparent and accountable, to avoid situations like those reported?”

“How can you ensure that the conditions placed on DA’s approved by Council are adhered to?”

“We need to encourage innovation.” 

“We want to live in a vibrant community.”

“Change needs to happen - we want a cutting edge and leading Council.” 

“We need to make the Central Coast a more attractive place to live.”  

“We need an ideas fest - a Central Coast TedX to encourage innovation & collaboration.”

“We’re no longer a holiday backwater, more and more young families are moving in, bringing money and jobs. But they’re becoming disenfranchised. We need proper infrastructure on the Peninsula.”

“How about they first fix their illegal dumping and stock market gambling.”

“Council has recently embarked on a process to bring community activities under new license agreements.  The Crommelin Native Arboretum has received a draft license which requires the Arboretum to pay ALL COUNCIL EXPENSES regardless of its obligations as the landowner. This will add thousands of dollars to the Arboretum’s annual costs. WE have requested a review of these charges.  None have been made. The $5,000 Council grant we have received for our community work will not be released by Council until we sign the new license.  We have asked that this be uncoupled form the license. This has been refused. This places unnecessary pressure on our license negotiations. We are obviously concerned and are desperately looking for support in our dealings with Council to acknowledge our status as an important manager of a public property which could be costly it if were totally maintained by Council.

“Central Coast Council can develop its own Development Control Plan (DCP) for the safe separation distance between polluting Industries and residents, our drinking catchments and the environment but it hasn’t. How will you ensure that a DCP is established that sets a safe separation distance between industry and other essential community services, infrastructure and the environment?”

“Over the last 2 years trucks volumes and speeds on our roads have increased dramatically. 

Does Council regulate the numbers, speeds, and types of trucks using the Mountain roads for materials, produce, rubbish dumping and other commercial interests? “

“Is Council collecting benefits in the form of levies and taxes for road use?”

“Why aren't the residents being consulted on what is occurring on their roads?”

“If you are elected will you express our (the community of Mangrove Mountain’s) concerns about excessive and dangerous use of our roads to Council, and propose control measures that should be implemented?”

 

Providing real solutions to reduce crime and vandalism, through initiating positive community initiatives

The Peninsula has a long history of being a poor and under resourced area.  For some families, four generations of unemployment is not unheard of.

Our population on the Peninsula is doubling, but the services for this population increase are not being matched.

The Central Coast has one of the highest obesity rates in the world.

The Peninsula has one of the highest domestic violence rates in NSW, Woy Woy Police Station is completely overworked and under resources, with only two patrol cars a night to deal with over 120 domestic violence call-outs a week on the Peninsula alone.

People are being killed in their homes, kids are fleeing the violence and they are learning violent behaviours, patterns which reinforce and repeat themselves, this is a social crisis.

Schools and community services on the Peninsula are stretched to provide necessary support services and to keep kids engaged in improving themselves for their future.  

Youth suicide, youth crime, drug and alcohol abuse, youth homelessness, domestic violence and youth imprisonment are all common experiences for local families.  Sadly these topics are on the rise on the Peninsula.

It’s not just about the families the kids grow up in, it’s about young people’s sense of their self-worth, belonging and their futures.

Anti-social behaviours stem from a sense of disconnection, disengagement, lack of self worth, lack of self respect and lack of respect for the people and things around one’s self.

It is vital that we as a community, with the engagement and support of Council as well as State and Federal funding and services, find positive ways to engage and empower our families and young people to give them a positive sense of their own self worth and their future.

Initiatives such as Jasmine Greens Baristas Beating Crime, PCYC boxing, Mary Mac’s Place community kitchen and the former Evolution youth services in Umina are all great, but to date many youth and family services on the Peninsula have been haphazard, dependent on volunteer labour and dependent on tiny grants that come and go.

Long term effective solutions to the disengagement of our young people in their future and their community need solid funding bases, long timelines, secure funding and employment offers for the service providers. The services need to be relevant for the participants they are targeted at.

Council needs to engage deeply with our existing schools, community service providers, charities and families and young people to hear about the challenges, the opportunities and the aspirations of our community to grow and thrive as a healthy and prosperous community that is offering a real and positive future for our young people.

Appeal to Council to make the Peninsula Recreation Precinct and Umina Safe at night

I sent Central Coast Council a petition with over 400 signatures on it, requesting the below actions in May 2016.  

I am now actively lobbying for Council to take advantage of the Federal Government’s Safer Communities Fund to apply for $1 million to make the Peninsula Recreation Precinct safe at night. 

The Peninsula Recreation Precinct and car parks at the end of Sydney Avenue and Melbourne Avenue are not safe places to be at night. The ongoing break-ins of houses, local businesses and vandalism of park facilities is not acceptable and must be stopped.

The violent fights, abuse of alcohol and illicit substances by minors, leading to the hospitalisation of young people after serious fights is alarming and a damming reflection of the lack of activities for teenagers on the Peninsula and the lack of Police resources to curb this dangerous behaviour.

We want to see the PRP become a safe and crime-free zone ASAP.

We appeal to Central Coast Council to apply for $1 million in Federal Safer Communities Funding to:

  • install solar powered flood lights in the Peninsula Recreation Precinct (PRP), Umina Beach - to light the PRP every night of the year and deter youth crime and violence.
  • install additional CCTV cameras in the PRP to monitor activity in the Precinct and catch vandals and perpetrators of crime and violence.
  • restore existing broken CCTV cameras in the PRP.
  • fund additional random security monitoring of the PRP from a new security contractor.
  • conduct community initiatives to provide real lasting solutions to youth antisocial behaviour in Umina and in the PRP.
  • retrofit the abandoned football club on Umina Oval as a youth centre and venue for teenagers to socialise and connect with community services in a fun and inviting way, especially on weekends and in school holidays.
  • We appeal to the NSW Government to:
  • increase funding and resources for Woy Woy Police.
  • install a 24 hour police station in Umina CBD.
  • provide additional Police patrols to the Peninsula and Umina.

Further information is available online on my website:

https://www.gabbygreyem.com/blog/2017/10/31/appeal-to-central-coast-council-to-apply-for-safer-communities-funding-to-make-the-peninsula-recreation-precinct-safe-at-night

And here on a Change.org.petition: http://chn.ge/2zii6Hv 

NBN TV Coverage of our campaign, 1 November 2017: 

http://www.nbnnews.com.au/2017/11/01/calls-for-security-ramp-up-in-umina/ 

 

What your constituents are saying:

“I'm sick to death of the crime in the area and nothing is being done to stop it.”

“Umina needs its own Police presence.”

“There are too many big vicious dogs running wild in the streets and on the beach.” “We need more dog rangers.”

“We need to build pride in place and a stronger sense of belonging and responsibility especially in our young people.” 

“The Peninsula Recreation Precinct is a lovely area and is constantly being vandalised.”

“Kids with nothing to do have poor self-esteem and then get into graffiti and other bad activities. We need to teach our kids to look after their environment.”

“We need to give our kids a sense of self worth and break the cycle of violence and vandalism.”

“What’s happening with he CCTV cameras on West St and in the Peninsula Recreation Precinct? Are they working?”

“We need safer communities. Woy Woy is too dark at night and it’s not safe there.”

“Umina Precinct Park has been a great success over recent years but unfortunately has been plagued recently by problems. We need assistance in curbing some of the anti-social behaviour that has occurred. Additional security cameras and security lighting will go a long way to resolve these issues.”

“The Peninsula Recreation Precinct is the site of rare and endangered State listed remnant Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland Vegetation, which CCC is charged with protecting. Council has further injected a great deal of money in providing an exemplary community facility on the peninsula with an award winning sustainable cafe and superior children's playground and recreation facilities. As well,  the area supports an oval , a skateboard facility, and a significant commercial tourist operation in the NRMA Caravan Park and Surf Club and carpark. At nightfall this outstanding community precinct turns  into a place of danger , violence and antisocial activities for want of the installation of adequate security measures. Such antisocial activity has worsened in the face of GCC 's extended failure to replace security cameras in the area and install adequate evening lighting.  This must be rectified as a priority to preserve and protect the community investments and improvements on the land and to ensure community safety and local residents well-being.”

“It's not just domestic violence. It's housing affordability the increasing costs of rents on the coast is ridiculous and the landlords are getting away with it. I have lived on the Central Coast for over 40 years and I was almost homeless with my 5 out of 6 children and one lil grandchild. I was renting a house in Umina for 6 years and the owner wanted vacant possession of the property to put the house up for sale. I was given a 90 day at no fault eviction notice just before Christmas 2 years ago. In my 28 years of renting I have never ever come across the trouble I had trying to secure a rental property. I applied for many houses. I had written references from previous landlords. I had never been on the Tica had a 28 year rental history only lost bond money once in the 28 years due to stains on light coloured carpet which professional cleaning didn't help. I had support workers trying to help me. I went to Dept of housing who put me through hell. I have been on the Department of Housing waiting list for 17 years so far. The 90 days came and went then I had to apply through NCAT for an extension of time to which they only gave me 2 weeks. The day I was accepted for a house in the following May the sheriff was coming to kick myself and my children out on the street with nowhere to go. I exhausted every avenue to getting a house. The only thing I could put it down to was discrimination as I had recently became a single mum due to the father of my children walking out on me and my children after 21 year relationship just 2 months after my mum passed away with cancer in my home. I of course could not prove discrimination but it was mentioned to me by one of the real estates it was because there were 7 of us and they didn't want to rent to someone like me. Society does not cater for large families and we tend to fall though the cracks of the systems. I am still in my current rental and have been for over 2 years but the thought of the what if's still haunt me to this day . At one point it was mentioned I live in a tent with my kids. We couldn't even sleep in my car as it was not big enough. I had no family or friends to help me at the time either. Department of Housing said my case was not classified as urgent because I am able to maintain rent in the private sector from my past of course. The Central Coast has many homeless people . They are the invisible people of society. We are all human and every life is worth saving. Community is everything.”

 

Improving Council’s waste collection and recycling options

Central Coast Council has the opportunity be a national recycling leader.  AS NSW continues to dump recycling waste in Victoria and Queensland as well as on the Central Coast, there is a massive business and environmentally sustainable opportunity to kick-start a national recycling industry on the Central Coast for glass recycling, paper and cardboard recycling, compost and green waste recycling and more… need I say more??

How can Council sit by idly and complacently allowing the trashing of our natural environment and claiming that we have a sustainable and ethical waste collection service paid by ratepayers?????!!!!

What your constituents are saying:

“Mangrove Mountain Illegal Landfill contains 500,000 tonnes of waste dumped in our drinking water catchment.  It is unlined so there is nothing there to stop it leaching toxins into the environment. Every year at least 3 million litres of toxic waste enters our ground water and is making its way into our water supply. The former Gosford City Council not only approved this illegal dump, it has dumped its own waste on the site illegally.”

"The impact on the water quality, landscape and community amenity of the landfill at Central Mangrove is a very important issue for the Mountain Districts community, and the whole Central Coast.”

“Given that the former Gosford City Council was a major contributor to the current waste mound, and greatly exceeded its own development consent, how do you think this issue might be resolved by Central Coast Council, to the satisfaction of the community?"

“Pearl Beach garbage collection services are poor.”

“The illegal waste dump on Mangrove Mountain needs to be shut down and remediated immediately.”

“We need Council to work on changing the community’s complacency and wastefulness.” 

“We need free tip fees to stop dumping of toxic waste and to promote up-cycling and recycling.” 

“Waste is a massive issue.”

“People have forgotten the impacts of disposable consumer culture.”

“Situations like the ones uncovered on 4 Corners, about rubbish dumping on the banks of the Hawkesbury in Spencer and the Mangrove Mountain Landfill, are evidence of failures by Gosford City Council in compliance monitoring and governance.”

“What changes do you think are essential to ensure the new Central Coast Council’s actions are transparent and accountable, to avoid situations like those reported?”

 

Supporting our primary producers, encouraging rural enterprises, protecting our water supply from pollution & banning mining in our pristine region

Nothing is more valuable than a food bowl and a water supply.  The Mountains District must be preserved for just this, providing a clean water supply to the Central Cost and bing a food bowl for the Central Coast and the Greater Sydney Catchment.

We need to learn from the mistakes made by disastrous planning decisions that allowed Sydney’s market gardens to be subdivided and developed into endless suburbs of McMansions. 

The farming heritage of our Mountains District is of national and regional significance.  Our primary producers in this region as well as our more seaside based fisherfolk are incredibly valuable assets to our region and to Australia.  They deserve investment, attention and assistance to continue to be the hunters and gatherers and farmers of our food and sustenance.

At the same time, they are the custodians and caretakers of our precious water, soil and natural environment.

During my election campaign, I had the privilege to meet with residents, farmers and custodians of the Mountains District.  To hear their stories of illegal and uncomplying land clearing, dumping of waste, water extraction, and resource extraction is very distressing. 

To hear that their farms and properties face the plight of Sydney’s market gardens, property development, is very distressing.

The Mountains District is is closest food bowl to the largest region in NSW, The Central Coast, as well as the largest city in Australia, Sydney.

Central Coast Council, as well as our State and Federal governments need to support, mentor, assist and promote this precious region, to help its local community and economy thrive in a long lasting and environmentally sustainably and globally competitive way.

There is no place for illegal waste dumping on the Central Coast.

There is no place for mining on the Central Coast.

Our ancient aquifers and water supplies must be protected for current and future generations to enjoy.

Our forests, rural lands, national parks and crown lands must be protected for future generations to enjoy.

This region needs to be preserved a a farming area and not subdivided into housing estates.

What your constituents are saying:

“As residents of this area we feel we have been ignored and forgotten by the former Gosford Council.”

“If you are elected as a Councillor on Central Coast Council will you undertake to maintain an ongoing communication with the community, and the Mountain Districts Association, in order to successfully represent the district and its needs and aspiration? How will you communicate with this part of your electorate and keep them up to date with council activity?”

“The protection of farms and food security in the Mountain Districts are critical to the production of food in the district, for feeding the growing population of the Central Coast, the Sydney market and growing the industry. This needs input and support from council to continue to be viable. There seems to be no clarity or consistency by Central Coast Council on Farm Stall or Farm Gate sales, and whether a DA is required or not. Even Council staffs are aware that there is confusion in this area”.

“Will you be prepared to work with Council to produce clear & consistent guidelines that farmers can rely on, so they can easily comply with legalities in order to be able to sell their produce via farm gate sales or farm stall sales?”

“Given that western Sydney will be under airport, motorway or high rise within the next 20 years what methodology (or by what means) would you see to preserve and encourage food growing in this area?”

"Somersby residents would like to know what actions you will put in place, if you are elected, to address accountability and monitoring of large developments by Council and the EPA to protect our region from disastrous landfills and proposed composting facilities that may not be in the best interests of the community, the environment and our water.”

“DAs for poultry farm expansions are being processed by delegation at council. There has been no discussion of the evidence of serious environmental, traffic and health risks that have been raised by residents. DA’s have only been considered from presentations by consultants, acting for the applicants. There doesn’t appear to be any strategic planning involved in the approval process.”

“Two residents neighbouring a poultry farm have medical certificates referring to lung disease directly caused by breathing dust from the current four sheds. That farm has just been approved to expand to ten sheds  and is on an unsuitable small 60 acre property.”

“Cordina Food Company has encouraged local suppliers to increase their output to supply their manufacturing facility in North Wyong, and it appears that there will be more applications to add to those currently in the Mangrove/Kulnura area alone. This anticipated proliferation will eventually become unsustainable, because Central Coast Council has no overall plan. Central Coast Council have written that they only deal with DAs for expansions or new poultry farms through individual development applications as they’re received.”

“The chicken sheds are too close to residents, on narrow winding roads in sensitive catchment areas supplying 60% of Gosford and Wyong’s drinking water.”

“What is your position on this issue of lack of communication and transparency with the general community regarding the current and future impact of more and more chicken sheds, and what can you offer the concerned residents of Kulnura, Mangrove Mountain, Central Mangrove and Peats Ridge?”

“In relation to a proposal to change the name of the Mountain Districts to Central Coast Plateau, Gosford City Council Minutes, 26 June 2012, state:

“Council has previously considered this issue at its meeting held on 4 August 2009”. In that report it was noted that many residents of Somersby, Mangrove Mountain, Calga, Peats Ridge, Central Mangrove, Mount White and Kulnura identify themselves with the term Mountains District. 

At that meeting Council resolved in part: A. Council not support the proposed district name of “Central Coast Plateau” for the identified areas being Somersby, Mangrove Mountain, Calga, Peats Ridge, Central Mangrove, Mount White and Kulnura.”

“RECOMMENDATION

Council discontinue the use of the term “plateau” when referring to the areas of Somersby, Mangrove Mountain, Calga, Peats Ridge, Central Mangrove, Mount White and Kulnura.

If you are elected, will you respect the wishes of residents as referred to above and oppose any attempts to change our name.”

“Central Coast Council can develop its own Development Control Plan (DCP) for the safe separation distance between polluting Industries and residents, our drinking catchments and the environment but it hasn’t. How will you ensure that a DCP is established that sets a safe separation distance between industry and other essential community services, infrastructure and the environment?”

“Over the last 2 years trucks volumes and speeds on our roads have increased dramatically. 

Does Council regulate the numbers, speeds, and types of trucks using the Mountain roads for materials, produce, rubbish dumping and other commercial interests? “

“Is Council collecting benefits in the form of levies and taxes for road use?”

“Why aren't the residents being consulted on what is occurring on their roads?”

“If you are elected will you express our (the community of Mangrove Mountain’s) concerns about excessive and dangerous use of our roads to Council, and propose control measures that should be implemented?”

 

Protecting our beaches and waterways from pollution

Need I say more?

Have you watched Blue the Film, by local disruptive filmmaker, Sarah Beard?

https://bluethefilm.org

Council needs to initiate more community education and active environmental preservations strategies to protect, and enhance the health of our coastal waterways, mangrove ecosystems and beaches.

What your constituents are saying: 

“We need to keep our beaches clean and remediate our sand dunes, especially in Umina and Ettalong.”  

“Storm water is causing erosion on Umina Beach and on the Esplanade.  It’s also polluting our beaches. We need storm water solutions, rubbish traps on storm water pipes, drains under the sand and we need a solution to keeping cigarette butts off our beaches and out of our waterways.”

“There’s too much rubbish on the beach. We need to Take 3.”