Monthly Mailbag – June 2019
Barking bloody dogs
I love dogs as much as anyone, but I’m sick of the selfish owners around Boundary, Arden and Pacific Streets, Clovelly. Who lets their dogs start barking from 6.30am?
This then causes a domino effect as they are joined by other maniacal barkers. Sometimes there is a lull and it starts again at 7.30am.
Please, keep your dogs inside until a reasonable hour and be a bit more considerate of sleeping children and your neighbours. What’s worse, one of these animals lives in conditions you wouldn’t even want your, um, dog to live in!
Social media Influenzas
Pearl’s valiant attempt to characterise so-called influenzas – oops, I mean influencers – as “wannabes” (her word) and “puerile” (my word) struck a chord with those of us who care less about these social underperformers than we do about the turds their fashionable dogs leave on the footpath while on their daily strut (Under the Influence, The Beast, April 2019).
I mean, who are these self-proclaimed nobodies? More to the point, who are the mindless morass who “follow” them, whatever that means?
Seriously Pearl, if I were you I’d just keep setting a good example as you go about your daily life in the real world, unlike the self-absorbed online twats you write about whose one claim to fame is their ability to post carefully scripted clips doing something that inspires only themselves and their gullible followers.
Name and suburb withheld
Pearl’s view on tree haters
Hi Pearl – I’d appreciate your view on a woman who was walking along Fern Street and nearby streets in Randwick, ripping huge branches from trees in public streets and from shrubs in private properties.
I love your down to earth take on life in the East. I wish I had been using my hose at the time and could have ‘accidentally’ dampened her lust. This has been going on for months and is not a rare occurrence.
The Nanny State
Hi The Beast – I enjoyed reading Duncan Horscroft’s article on the Bronte Cutting and local parking issues (Locals Want Car Spots Back in Cutting, The Beast, May 2019). All so very true.
Waverley Council do what they want, when they want. As The Beast rightly pointed out when the parking spots were first removed, there was zero consultation from the council with locals.
Eighteen months ago a group of residents wanted to plant out a traffic calming device on Evans Street, Bronte, at our cost. Wanting to do to the right thing by the council, I contacted them and put in a request to plant a small garden with site safe, low growing, zero-to-low maintenance Council approved native plants.
Twelve months later I got a “yes”, we could go ahead with the garden. Then, two weeks later, I suddenly got an email saying, “No, you can’t plant the garden.”
My request had apparently gone through multiple council departments. There had also been several on-site meetings by numerous council staff, some of which I attended. Apparently no one was sure which council department could make the decision, which is apparently why it took twelve months to make a decision.
How can a request to beautify the area, a tiny 8m2 garden, paid for and maintained by locals, take over twelve months to get a decision from the council?
The reason for the reversal of the decision was extremely vague. “It’s too dangerous for our staff to maintain,” one council worker said to me. Another council worker told me that they didn’t want the costs of the maintenance (but the locals would maintain the garden!).
Had we put the garden in without asking the council, no one would have blinked an eye and it would look wonderful by now. Following a council process ended up turning into over a year of pain and came at a huge cost to the ratepayer, all over a tiny garden.
It is time for a major review of the council’s processes and inefficiencies. It is also time for some fresh young blood on Waverley Council. Bring on the next council elections. They should be every two to three years, not every four years as they currently are for local government.
Keep up the great work.
(Passionate about our local community, former winner of Waverley Council Best Street Garden Award)
Bronte primary school
Hello James and Dan – Perhaps you or your readers can help me understand why a state primary school has to fundraise for toilets for its pupils? When did toilets become an optional extra? Maybe fundraising for desks or chairs – children could probably do without them – but toilets?!
It seems New South Wales can build stadia, with excellent facilities no doubt, but not toilet facilities for Bronte Primary School pupils.
Organic food and LK – part 2
To The Beast – Lenore Kulakauskas puts a different spin on her own letters from many years ago, which is understandable, but I stand by my recollection. There was/is no such thing as a 24-hour takeaway liquor license, so I suggest her own recollection may be hazy. It would be interesting to do the research for a tragic like myself but trawling through 15 years of Waverley Council records just isn’t practical.
Re organic food, Anastasia Beaverton is just repeating the misinformation spread by the organic industry and its well-intentioned supporters. It’s important that this kind of misinformation doesn’t permeate through our educational system. To her credit Anastasia did qualify many statements with the term “may”.
Re GMOs, the verdict is in: the scientific consensus states that GMOs are safe. Every approved GMO has to go through years of arduous testing and regulatory hurdles. Even the Greens recently modified their GMO policy by deleting a call for a moratorium and any inference to question their safety.
Put simply, the majority of every cropping plant has had their genes altered from their wild ancestors through traditional breeding methods. GMOs are just a high tech, more precise version of that process, whether it be RNA interference, transgenics or gene editing (official forms of GMOs).
GMO crops in the US aren’t damaging the environment or bees as claimed. Yes, native bees are under threat, mainly due to habitat destruction, but despite the media hype the European honey bee is fine. Numbers have recovered in the US after the Colony Collapse Disorder waves in 2007 (varroa mite being the primary cause) and numbers in Australia have always been climbing.
With the oncoming effects of climate change, in order to adapt we will need every tool possible. There are GMOs (Bt eggplant, for example) that have built-in genetic pest control, so no pesticide spraying is necessary. There are also GMOs around, and in the pipeline, that require less water and less fertiliser than organic and conventional crops.
The Roundup Ready GMO crops help with no-till farming, which saves top soil, prevents land degradation and stops carbon being released from the soil and machinery. Roundup itself is a whole different debate, but I’ll just state that courts don’t decide science, so have faith in our regulatory authority looking after pesticides, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
If you really care about the environment then you should support any practice that minimises land use in food production. As the ABC show The Checkout said in an expose on organic food: “Which rainforest shall we cut down so we can grow organic food?”
As a local and regular user of the Bronte Cutting, myself and many others have been left out of the recent survey circulated by the Bronte Surf Club on March 12. As the survey did not include many of us, the result represented a view which was not shared by the majority.
I do not like to think that this survey will be used as an example of the general public’s ideas, ignoring the original paid survey of December last year, which was extensive and all encompassing.
I disagree with the article in The Beast (Locals Want Car Spots Back in Cutting, The Beast, May 2019), as at the council community workshop in February, the option of excavating and building a pedestrian path was not well received and those attending realised the huge cost of such an unnecessary measure. The mammoth cost of an elevated pathway belies any benefit gained by an option which would cause drastic damage to the rock face.
Leaving the current situation with the new speed-quietening road measures and a portion of the roadway made for walking is the most cost-effective option which does not damage our precious heritage coast line. Alternatively, just have a 10km speed limit! Do we have money to spend on preserving some car spaces at the risk of damaging our natural heritage? Are these car spaces used throughout the year?
I am concerned that specific limited surveys may be used to indicate public attitude instead of considering the interests of the majority of pedestrians who use the cutting.
I see that, according to a survey, 500 residents have demanded the return of 22 parking spaces in Bronte Cutting (that was originally a valuable public transport resource). Please forgive my mathematics, but if 500 residents want those spots back that is only about one spot for each 25 residents. How will these be rationed out? By a lottery system? By taking turns?
I suspect that the survey was not overly unbiased in nature and produced the desired results rather than something accurate. It should be remembered, in that light, that there will never be enough parking in Bronte (or anywhere near the beaches) to meet full demand at all times. If Waverley Council was somehow able to provide an extra 220 places somewhere, there would still not be enough parking.
Get used to it! There is no obligation on Council to provide parking for everyone within what they think is a convenient distance from a beach. 22 spots will make no difference.
Not All Surveys Are Created Equal
Dear Editor – Today, with Survey Monkey software, anyone can put together a survey without accountability or quality control. Duncan Horscroft refers to the “Bronte Cutting Pilot Project Draft Survey, conducted by the Bronte Surf Club” in his piece in the May issue of The Beast (Locals Want Car Spots Back in Cutting, The Beast, May 2019). He writes that the Surf Club’s one-week survey in March 2019 “received better results” than the two-month Waverley Council survey conducted with on-site interviews and a questionnaire on their Have Your Say homepage.
But the two surveys were very different. Whereas Council’s explained the whole context using diagrams and user-friendly facts, the surf club’s survey provided no overview and seemed to skew the questions to elicit a certain response.
I also wondered if one person could respond to the surf club’s survey multiple times. To test this, my daughter and I used the same computer to complete the survey and there seemed to be no algorithm to stop us doing that.
With all due respect, caution needs to be exercised when making comparisons between surveys, especially when those comparisons are used as the basis of the public’s position on such important amenities as the Bronte Cutting.
Council should be congratulated for a consultation that acknowledged the amenity of the millions of pedestrians who walk through the Cutting and provided a forum for other considerations to be aired including the significant heritage, aesthetic and environmental values of the Cutting and its context.
Bronte Cutting survey
Re: Locals Want Car Spots Back in Cutting (The Beast, May 2019). To state that Waverley Council’s Bronte Cutting Pedestrian Link Survey was not properly instigated is incorrect.
Council’s independent survey was conducted by an industry expert (Micromex) and reached more than 500 people across all users of the Cutting car park.
It included appropriate sampling design and the sample size achieved statistical reliability to industry standards as per an independent peer review of the survey.
The survey found that 85 per cent of respondents supported the temporary footpath that Council installed. By comparison, only 7 per cent of respondents preferred a return of the 20 car parking spaces removed for the project, making it the least preferred option.
While I very much respect the opinion of the surf club and its members, more than one million people use the Coastal Walk from Bronte to Bondi every year, and the missing link in the footpath means that during peak times, as many as 500 pedestrians per hour are forced to walk along the road creating conflict between pedestrians and vehicles.
Pedestrian safety is our top priority and we will continue to work closely with the surf club and other key stakeholders to try and reach a fair and balanced outcome.
Mayor of Waverley
Five things you can do on World Environment Day
World Environment Day is on June 5, as it is every year. It is an opportunity to focus on the impacts of human behaviours on the natural environment and challenge ourselves to work a little harder at conserving natural resources for the year ahead.
1. Unlike New Year’s resolutions, when it comes to World Environment Day you can switch your behaviour a little bit at a time. You don’t necessarily need to totally turn your life or your family’s around in a single step.
2. Over one fifth of food purchased from supermarkets gets wasted and ends up in the rubbish bin. Shop with a list you prepared earlier, check what’s in your fridge or cupboard before you buy, and plan ahead that leftovers will be eaten the following night or at lunchtime.
3. Carry a bag, take your own coffee cup and refill your drink bottle. Even if you just start with some of your takeaways or lunches, picnics or visits to the park or beach, try to create a new habit for yourself that helps cut down waste and disposal of re-usable resources.
4. Talk to friends, family, work-mates. Equip yourself with just one tantalising piece of environmental information that you can bring up and plant the seed that anybody, anywhere can do something small (or large) to look after our environment.
5. Appreciate nature. Enjoy a sunrise, stare at the stars at night, observe spiders in their webs in the park or your neighbour’s garden, tree canopies, branches or flowering plants anywhere.
6. Live by example. Pick up that little bit of plastic you’re walking over and place it in the bin; you may feel a little awkward but others looking at you may get motivated to do the same thing after seeing you bend down to intercept the rubbish washing down the drain toward the beach and into the stomachs of marine animals or birds.
What can you do this World Environment Day?
Ima Watt (stallholder)
I just wanted to let you know that the Tim Minchin interview you guys did last month was bloody incredible. What an amazing human being he is! Some of your interviews are shithouse, but not this one.