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Precinct Committees Continue To Provide a Voice for the People

By Rona Wade on September 27, 2021 in News

A Seaweedy Coogee Beach back in 1910. Photo: Andrew Fisher

Precinct committees are a vital part of local government public consultation and open government processes going back to the early 1980s. Waverley, Woollahra and Randwick Councils all have precincts run by volunteer residents with meetings open to any person living within the precinct boundaries.
The first precincts were set up in North Sydney under the enlightened leadership of Ted Mack. In 1995, Randwick Council approved 18 Precincts, with boundaries based on communities of interest and ABS Census Collection Districts.
Over the years since, precincts have merged and some have dissolved. With a lot of hard work, seven precincts continue to provide a forum for local residents. These are Clovelly, Coogee Bay, Malabar, Maroubra, Matraville, Randwick and the newly established Bays and Beaches.
The Coogee Bay Precinct has met monthly since its formation and regularly attracts a good roll up. We are fortunate in having excellent involvement by local councillors, most notably Councillor Kathy Neilson (Labor, North Ward). Others who have attended include Councillors Murray Matson (Greens, East Ward), Tony Bowen (Labor, East Ward) and Lindsay Shurey (Greens, North Ward). Their attendance enables us to provide direct feedback and often they follow up on issues.
The precincts receive excellent support from Council through precinct coordinators including the late Martin Ryman, Amanda Mather and Katie Kershaw, and key staff also respond to our resolutions. Successive general managers have supported us and host regular meetings of the combined executives.
Some issues canvassed by the Coogee Bay Precinct include stormwater and sewerage pollution, development applications, heritage, traffic, pedestrian safety, licensed venues and alcohol, signage on the cliffs, beach maintenance, rubbish – particularly commercial rubbish – and public safety. Over the years, the Coogee Bay Precinct has played an important role in improving the public safety and security of the Coogee foreshore parks.
The key issue occupying the Coogee Bay Precinct at the moment is the proposed redevelopment of the Coogee Bay Hotel site. The precinct has lodged an objection and members are active in opposing the redevelopment in its current form
(www.keepcoogeeavillage.com).
The Coogee Bay Precinct has supported many local campaigns including Save Dunningham Reserve, which successfully opposed the construction of a large toilet block that would have obliterated the view to the bay from the coastal walkway, Keep Coogee a Village and Save Coogee Beach, which opposed commercial zoning of the south end of the bay.
The Coogee Bay Precinct is particularly proud of its idea to create a bush garden as habitat for birds in the otherwise dusty area at the end of Neptune Street. This was in response to the rapid loss of small birds such as blue wrens and New Holland honeyeaters from the foreshore area. After a council consultation process, the precinct proposal was approved and Council planted out two large areas with suitable low growing plants. A third garden bed has now been added.
Local residents play an active role as chair or secretary of the Coogee Bay Precinct. In recent years these have included Jenn Heron, Michael Richards, Maria Bradley, Martin Faulkner, Mark England, Del Buchanan, Carla and John Giannakopoulos, Ryan Elliott and the writer.
We are hoping to celebrate our 25th anniversary soon and would love to hear from anyone who was involved in the early days. You can get in touch at
coogeeprecinct2034@gmail.com or visit coogeeprecinct.com.

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