Tag Archives: 31 Station Street

AUDITOR GENERAL’S PERFORMANCE AUDIT OF THE TRUSTEES MANAGEMENT OF THE CAULFIELD RACECOURSE RESERVE.

The Auditor General’s above Report was tabled in Parliament this morning.  In preparing the report, the Auditor General invited community groups and individuals to make submissions to the Audit.  GERA was one of those community groups. While GERA has not had time to fully digest the content of the Auditor General’s Report, for the time being it is sufficient to say that GERA agrees with the Report’s summary findings.   Same starting point, different paths taken ( determined by the AG’s direct access to Trustee and DEPI information vs. residents reliance on secondary or third hand information) yielded the same conclusion.

Subsequent GERA postings will contain comments on the details of the report.

For GERA, the big question now is, will the politicians do anything the tools are available, is the will?

BACKGROUND

The Caulfield Racecourse Reserve was created by a Crown Grant in August, 1958 “to provide a site for a Race Course Public Recreation Ground and Public Park at Caulfield” and management of the reserve, in accordance with these 3 separate yet equal purposes, was vested in a Board of Trustees.

“Fifteen trustees are appointed by the Governor in Council to manage the reserve—six each representing government and the Melbourne Racing Club and three representing Glen Eira City Council. The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) has a role in overseeing the performance of Crown land managers”.

Both historically and currently, residents have long argued that

  • Trustees have focused on the racing purpose, to the exclusion and detriment of the public recreation and public park purposes, and
  • The Victorian Government representatives appointed as Trustees, and the overseeing Government Departments, have also focused on racing purpose to the exclusion of the other two purposes.

AUDITOR GENERAL’S FINDINGS

“The audit concluded that the trustees have not been effective in their overall management of the reserve. There is an absence of governance arrangements and management tools to effectively guide the management of the reserve, and the trustees have not established a strategic plan for land use and development of the reserve. Consequently, conflicts of interest have not been adequately managed and preference has been afforded to racing interests with insufficient attention given to use of the reserve for recreational pursuits and as a public park.

DEPI has not effectively overseen the management of the reserve by the trustees and has not intervened in significant issues that adversely affect the trustees’ management of the reserve. There is no framework established for trustees to report to DEPI, and in turn to the Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, and therefore there is a lack of accountability over the trust’s performance.”

GERA’s AUDIT SUBMISSIONS

GERA made two submissions

• A Preliminary Submission, specifically requested by the Auditor General, on the public access points to the reserve, and
• A Final Submission (which included supporting documentation in a separate Appendices)

For those interested in reading our submissions, we advise that even allowing for the inclusion of photographs they make for hefty reading.

Our thanks to the many who contributed to GERA’s submission – your significant contribution is greatly appreciated and hopefully will result in a significant change to the Reserve’s management.

Errata

The following sentence has be added to our original posting to aid clarification:.

“Same starting point, different paths taken (determined by the AG’s direct access to Trustee and DEPI information vs. residents reliance on secondary or third hand information) yielded the same conclusion.”

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

 

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ELECTRONIC SCREEN ON PUBLIC PARK AND RECREATION GROUNDS

ELECTRONIC SCREEN UPDATE – 26/5/2014

 View of the screen from the Centre of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve picnic facilities.

Last Tuesday’s Council Meeting (20/5/2014) granted approval for the erection of an enormous electronic screen on the Caulfield Racecourse (see below posting). The permanent screen will be located, in front of the grandstand, on  Crown Land that is designated as a public park and recreation area. The screen will be used for live racing feeds on race days (27 pa) and sponsorship promotions during both racing and non-racing events.

Much of the discussion, leading up to the formal vote for screen approval, related to the benefits derived by MRC and race patrons (ie. additional income stream, attractive to grandstand users) rather than the adverse visual impact on the parkland and parkland users.  However, the “major” argument presented for approving the screen was that such approval would remove the MRC’s ability to argue against the future provision of sporting facilities on the Racecourse Centre’s public parkland.

While GERA has reservations re the adoption of this approach, GERA sincerely hopes that approval to permanently erect a screen of this magnitude results in increased sporting facilities in the centre of the racecourse in the near future.

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INITIAL ELECTRONIC SCREEN POSTING – 19/5/2014

At tomorrow’s Council Meeting, Council will vote on the Melbourne Racing Clubs planning permit application for the permanent installation of a huge electronic screen on Crown Land in an area designated for public parkland and public recreation usage.

Leader Article 22 4 2014

As reported in the Leader – 22/04/2014 the screen will

  • “rival the largest racetrack screens in the southern hemisphere
  • at 13.11m, would be about the height of a four-storey building
  • be 42.3m wide – larger than a basketball court and 8m shy of an Olympic sized swimming pool”
  • have a screen area of 427.6 sqm – larger that the designated minimum lot size for large lot subdivisions in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone. (GERA’s additional comment).

Viewed from the centre of the racecourse picnic area, the visual impact of the screen will be

BEFORE

AFTER

Please note the above picture superimposes the screen diagram (as per documentation presented by the MRC) on the above “before” photo.  Screen positioning is aligned with the pitch of the access tunnel entrance roof.

In support of the planning permit application the MRC comments that

  • within the context of the existing racecourse built forms (eg. grandstands, entrance structures) and the proposed plantings immediately behind the screen, the screen “will not have a detrimental impact on the visual amenity of the area … and]…will have no material impact on the park or it’s users”
  • “the loss of the view of the grandstands has no relevance as the grandstand is not a protected building”
  • “will significantly add to the functionality and entertainment value offered to the race going public’’ by displaying live video feeds, race replays, race day and sponsor information.
  • although the Leader Article referenced reports an MRC representative as saying the screen “would not be used for advertising”, at the Council held Planning Conference (25/4/2014) the attending MRC representative said it would also be used to promote sponsors during other events held at the racecourse.
  • that the screen dimensions are in line with similar screens installed in other Australian racecourses.
  • the permanent screen would replace the temporary** screen currently being used and is approximately 5 times the size of that screen. (Readers should note that current screen, previously referred to as a portable screen, is on a trailer structure that is in place during race days and stored on non-racing days)

GERA believes that this electronic screen planning permit application should not be granted and that an amended scaled down permit application, that is more appropriate to the reserve’s parkland usage, should be submitted.  GERA considers that

  • the screen is to be permanently located on crown land in an area designated for use as a public park and public recreation.
  • the screen’s proposed dimensions have a detrimental impact on the visual amenity of the park and it’s users.  This loss of visual amenity is not mitigated by surrounding built forms or proposed plantings.
  • the predicted limited usage of the screen (ie 27 racing afternoons per year and 10 non racing event days per year) is not sufficient to justify this permanent and prominent intrusion (365 days per year) on parkland.
  • it is inappropriate to permanently locate signage, which will also be used to promote MRC sponsors’s products and services, on publicly owned parkland.
  • that the argument that the screen’s size is consistent with those installed at other Australian racecourses does not recognise the designated  parkland and recreation usage that applies to the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve.  The screens referenced in the permit application are located on either crown land designated for racecourse purposes only or on free-hold racing club owned land.
  • it is not in accordance with Council’s March, 2013, Position Statement on the Crown Land known as the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve. (Council Minutes March, 2014 – item 9.10)

Since the Officers Report ( Council Meeting Agenda – 20/5/2014 – Item 9.4) recommends approval of the huge electronic screen, GERA encourages our members and readers to contact Councillors to express their views.  Councillor Contact Details

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Footnotes

*A  large lot is defined as being a property lot greater than 2000 sqm.

** The current temporary/portable screen

Portable Screen