Good news about fun Council meeting, not so good news about bats

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The council meeting on Tuesday Feb 2nd was fun (sort of). The charette process was discussed of course and the things I recall about it are:

Nuatali Nelmes asked about the finding that the radar investigation showed great news* about tree roots (ie that they were where they weren’t supposed to be. She wanted to know whether this was going to be made public.A council officer told her it would definitely be part of the information given to the community.I wish he’d been asked about why the wait but you can’t have everything.

  • council officers were asked about the information sessions following the charette rather than being before. In my last post I quoted several links which indicate that the standard is to have public information sessions before the charette.
  • Even though there was no change made to this unfortunate order, it’s always good for council  to know that the community are interested in the process and its effectiveness.
  • Michael Osborne pointed out that environment groups had been omitted from the chosen/appointed group of the charette. Judy Jaeger (I presume) from council said that once they notify councillors and the community about the members of the group they can point out omissions and an attempt will be made to remedy this.
  • Aaron Buman said the fact that the charette was going to cost $70000 was terrible and set an unfortunate precedent. I couldn’t agree more with the cost issue: we could as a city save lots of money asking for another arborist with a focus on tree preservation to have a look at the trees and stop talking about getting rid of them. This street is not in need of design. And now we know the trees have roots in the right place, which would explain why all but one look terrific.Anyway…
  • It surprises me that he says this charette sets a precedent: I first heard of charettes at the November 2009 Ward 1 community Forum where one of the speakers discussed this, I think  in relation to Hunter Street’s ‘revitalisation’. Council had, I think, already had one, but I’m happy to be corrected.

It was good news that the Bogey Hole came up. The whole of Newcastle has been up in arms since it was revealed that the Department of Lands and Property Management have floated the idea of closing it. One of the  councillors suggested Council take it over and fix it up. Sensibly it was pointed out that taking over its care from the State Government before it’s been ‘fixed up’ is something we probablycan’t afford and shouldn’t have to. Council should be putting pressure on Lands and Property Management to look after it the way it deserves rather than neglect it, but it’s otherwise not council’s problem.

What a shame Councillor Boyd isn’t as interested in Laman Street as a heritage and tourism issue as he is the Bogey Hole.They’re both important, in different ways.

If the council chamber were a school yard you’d be having a look at your bullying policy. If they have one at NCC, it’s not working. To see middle-aged men apparently picking on fellow councillors was unpleasant, to say the least.

Did you know?

Grey-headed fruit bats are endangered? If you live anywhere near fig trees you’ll hear the bats at night. They’re fantastic in Laman Street: I heard them as I walked back to my car after the council meeting.

You may have read about the issues in Singleton where they have lots of bats in Burdekin Park.The locals don’t like it, according to the paper and some of the trees the bats are living in are dying.

The bats are listed as vulnerable.Bats’ numbers are estimated to have halved since European colonisation.There was a study in Sydney that showed that their numbers are declining by 6% a year there. This is mainly due to habitat loss but there are other factors such as legal and illegal culling.

At that rate, they will be functionally extinct within a few decades.

Apparently the passenger pigeon in the US went from numbering in the billions to extinct in a matter of 40 years, an example of why we shouldn’t think an apparently numerous species is safe.

In the Year of Biodiversity it’s important to look at the big picture: bats are important because they pollinate native species like the Spotted Gum – a species that is also, surprisingly and sadly, endangered in the Hunter – and do so over a wide area. Bats  feed on a variety of flowering and fruiting native trees and fly between 30-100km a night, spreading up to 60000 seeds a night. (I can’t begin to imagine how you would count that.)

So while insurers and council officers worry mainly about public liability there are so many other issues in Laman Street, not least the animals and birds that will suffer as a result of the loss of habitat.                                                                    Home

*my words

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