Lord Mayor creates a diversion


Nero Lord Mayor John Tate has come up with a distraction from some unknown thing with one of the silliest ideas any councillor has ever put forward: turn Civic Park into an underground car park.

You’ll be happy to know that our civic leader believes this will solve our traffic problems. Didn’t realise we had traffic problems? That’s probably because you don’t come into the CBD as much as They would like you to.

I think the CBD’s traffic problem is the fact that most people do their shopping at outlying suburban shopping centres.


This is the article about our very own Domain-type parking station (the car park in inner Sydney under that wonderful green space, the Domain, famous for the soapbox speakers who used to frequent the place).

Perhaps Louis XIV Mr Tate hasn’t read Newcastle’s urban design strategy which has been developed over several years and can be read (but not printed) at http://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/5553/Newcastle_Urban_Strategy_Update_2005_24hr_reference_taken_out.pdf
I’ve started to read this (but always get side-tracked) and the beginning of it is inspiring. It talks about the modern, sustainable approach to urban design which focuses on making cities walkable and livable and pedestrian-focussed. He probably hasn’t had a chance: after all the first draft did only come out in 2005.

Build more car parks and all you’re doing is encouraging people to use their cars more rather than use public transport, walk or ride. The CBD would have to be one place that’s reasonably easy to get to by public transport: improving that, having better and safer cycle ways is surely the way to go.

And what about the trees in Civic Park as it is now? They’d survive turning the place into a car park. Not.

It’s seriously so silly you have to ask yourself why would he suggest it? He does mention selling Gibson Street car park in the plan. Maybe that’s the distraction. Doubly bizarre if you think we have a parking problem. GS car park is a few hundred metres from where he is talking about.

I guess he was clever in that it focussed people on that silliness instead of

  • the number 2 sportsground proposal which apparently involves cutting down 100 trees.
  • the deadline for the charette and Vision Thing about the fig trees being so soon = 22nd Feb 2010.
  • his ratepayer-funded sister-city visit. This was, according to the Herald, to be discussed at last night’s council meeting. Can you believe that in this day and age of conference calls and skype, not to mention cash-strapped councils, we still do that?

I wonder whether two terms should be the limit for any Lord Mayor. Some of them start to think it’s all about them, rather than about the people who they are supposed to represent.

The other scandals are:

  • I’m told you have to be a ratepayer to be part of the charette. This means if you’re a renter, forget it.
  • only a very short time to put your nomination in or your vision in for the charette: this 2 weeks is up on 22nd.
  • Councillor Luke so far hasn’t responded to my email abpout the alleged six arborists. Do you think maybe he doesn’t do email? Come to think of it, he didn’t respond to me when I wrote to him (and every other councillor) before the rescission motion vote in December) or when I wrote about the charette a couple of weeks ago… Maybe he only writes to people in his ward.

Some of us were trying – again – to work out where this talk of chopping down the figs has come from.

If it’s about safety, as they say, then why are they not talking about taking out the trees at the other end of Laman Street, why were only half the trees in Tyrrell Street unsafe, what about the other 290 Hill’s figs in Newcastle, what about the other eight streets with figs in them in Cooks Hill, planted at about the same time, etc.

I hear that the Art Gallery redevelopment is actually being talked about happening behind the present gallery, which would mean the trees wouldn’t have to go.

Is it about making it easier to lay cables coming down from the substation in Tyrrell Street? Is it about the school of thought that says all trees die one day so you should get in and replace them before they do? Some sensible person said to me that some arborists only care about new trees, not existing trees. Is is about Tsar Nicholas II Mr Tate wanting a grand view through the park to the Cultural Centre and Gallery?

Maybe it seriously is about safety and some people in council having no soul. Maybe they can’t look at the benefits of the trees that far outweigh the small risk of keeping them.

Maybe they forget these trees are worth money. The numbers of people going to the gallery has dropped precipitously since parking was banned in the street. The gallery and library are more beautiful surrounded by these gorgeous trees.

All trees have some risk. Remember: these ones withstood the earthquake and the Pasha Bulker storm.

Newcastle needs to try to be more beautiful, not less.

Maybe Mr Tate could have a look at some Japanese trees while he’s away. This is a picture of a tree preserved by the Japanese. I wish I could remember where I found it.                                                                                                                        Home


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