You should nominate for the ‘Design’ Workshop

On Saturday 6th Feb 2010 there was an ad in the Herald entitled ‘Laman Street – Civic Precinct Design Workshop’

It said: ‘Council is developing a vision for the future of the Laman Street – Civic Precinct [bounded by Hunter, Darby, Queen and Auckland Streets] and we encourage you to get involved.

‘Interested community members are invited to attend a two day intensive design workshop with independent experts on Friday 19 March and Saturday 20 March 2010. Nominations close 22 February 2010.

‘Please call Council on 4974 2854 or email to for a nomination pack.

‘If you can’t be part of the workshop, you can still send us your vision for the precinct. Go online at or pick up  a leaflet from all branch libraries  and Council’s City Administration  Centre (King St, Newcastle).

‘For more information on the Laman Street – Civic Precinct consultation process go to Council’s website at: ‘

I’ve rung up for my nomination pack and had a look at the ‘vision thing’:

 ‘ a notable sound bite from George H.W. Bush during his presidency. It was purportedly the former President’s response to the suggestion that he turn his attention away from short-term campaign objectives and focus on the larger picture to  which he quipped, “oh, the vision thing.” (Wikipedia. And I do tire of people saying Wikipedia can’t be trusted; all power to anyone who wants to spend the time to research something and post it on the internet. Most of us are just sitting at home criticising. If you read a mistake on Wikipedia  go ahead and correct it.)

I was discussing ‘expert’ reports with someone and telling them that I had googled a certain expert’s history; their response was ‘You can’t trust everything you read on google.’ I have to say my experience with online research has been a lot more enlightening than my dealings with information fed to the public in reports to council and on council’s website, as I’ve said before.

But I have distracted myself again. It’s incredibly easy to log on to council’s website and tell them your vision thing  may be ‘Leave the street alone apart from     

  • look after the trees: they could potentially live for another 100 years.
  • get over yourselves about the ‘risk’ these trees pose. The community sensibly look at these trees and simply do not believe they’re about to fall on them. All this kind of ridiculous prediction does is make people cynical about council, politicians and public servants in general.
  • seek another sensible tree risk assessment. The chance of a person being killed by a fig is so small as to be incalculable. The ones that have fallen have been in bad weather when there is no one about.
  • there are bucket loads of ways to assess tree risk. QTRA should be ridiculed for the ridiculous calulations they come up with. Try another one. Hastings Street in Wauchope is a good example of a street that would have lost its figs if decisions had been based on saving bitumen and one or even 2 risk assessments: the third one saved the street.

the figs that remain in Laman Street withstood the earthquake and the Pasha Bulker storm

  • the major risk to the longevity of a fig tree is a council officer or elected councillor who has a vision thing for redevelopment or a view
  • if you seriously want to carry on with this nonsense that people  should not spend any time near the trees then get rid of (what I presume is )staff parking at the side of the Art Gallery and allow visitor parking there
  • make welcoming entries at the rear of the gallery and library if you do want to keep cars out of the street
  • if it’s a pedestrian-only street then get rid of the bitumen and replace it with grass or gravel or eucalyptus mulch and native grass
  • put a nice (please no Ausplay) children’s play area in Civic Park
  • I can suggest some lovely Victorian towns (Bendigo, Ballarat, Albert Park in Melbourne) where council officers could go on a junket study tour to find some ideas for playgrounds: they don’t all have to be plastic and same-ish. The playground in Albert Park was done in partnership with industry.
  • fruit bats that live in these trees are ‘vulnerable’. We want to be a sustainable city and our council has a green outlook and puts emphasis on social justice and biodiversity. These trees are an important habitat for urban birds and wildlife.A pleasant surrounding is important in ensuring that residents lead happy lives.

And so on. Remember: the risk thing is a complete red herring.

Hands off the figs and we don’t trust your experts.



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