The Beast’s Monthly Mailbag
Waverley Council: You’re not an investment manager
I had to laugh last month when I saw the Waverley Council update celebrating a projected operating surplus of $13.4 million and reserves of $113.7 million for financial year 2021. In such a difficult year economically, where the world has seen unprecedented fiscal (government) and monetary (central bank) spending designed to stimulate economic activity (and full employment), the council saw it wise to withhold expenditure. The council must be one of the few public balance sheets in surplus this FY.
Don’t celebrate, you’ve got it massively wrong. Amongst such difficult conditions for small businesses, charities, etc., spend the money! Don’t tell me you’re saving for a rainy day – it’s raining! Moreover, your reserves of $113.7 million – which is another way of saying low returning investments in bank bonds and term deposits – appears to be ridiculous. You’re not a fund manager, give the money back or spend it on the community. I understand the need for reserves, but over $100 million seems to be extreme – do you have financial modelling that justifies maintaining such a large pile of resident money?
Bring BJ Back to Life
Dear James – I would like to reach out through your tremendous publication to Waverley Council, to offer them some sage advice in regard to the Bondi Junction pedestrian mall. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if they could permit the retail shops along the pedestrian mall to be used only for food and beverage outlets with outdoor seating. Imagine the feel and vibe of the Junction with a dedicated strip for restaurants, cafes and bars similar to restaurant strips all over the world – think Corso Como in Milan or Las Ramblas in Barcelona. People would see Bondi Junction as a destination more than just a Westfield. The existing retail in the mall could move to the western end of Bondi Junction on Oxford Street where there has been endless development and currently many empty shops. Come on Waverley Council, you know you can do it! Bring some life to BJ.
Dear James – I would like to add my voice to the cry of outrage that has been rising out of the issue with motorcycle parking in Waverley. Not only is this council charging riders the same parking fee as ute drivers, but it is also decreasing the capacity of motorcycle parking in the area.
Take, for example, Bronte Beach. With the redevelopment of the bus stop and entry to Bronte Cutting car park (or as the council liked to call it, ‘Bronte Village Centre upgrade’), literally half of the spots that were available for riders to park have gone. When I emailed the council to express my disdain, I was told that the motorcycle parking had been cut down as there was a need for a disabled car park. I replied pointing out to them that prior to the works, the disabled car park was already there. Their answer to my point was quite confusing, like they didn’t really know what to say, and even if that was the case, why cut down half of the motorcycle parking instead of allocating an existing car space to the disabled?
There was also a very large motorcycle parking area in Spring Street, Bondi Junction. That parking was gold for riders. Again, with the redevelopment of that section of the street, that’s now gone. I wrote to the council again to express my disdain, and was pretty much told to get over it. They have now created two separate tiny spaces for motorcycle parking in Spring Street that barely fit five bikes each.
In addition to all this, the new council’s trend in relation to motorcycle parking is that of painting bays in the parking space (often at a 45 degree angle!). I am not sure why, maybe they think it’s ‘stylish’. I would encourage them to have a chat with the City of Sydney Council about this and see what they think about bays and what would happen if they started adopting them. There would probably be riots in the CBD, given the amount of riders who park there each morning.
But why should Waverley Council care anyway? Why should they be worried about the fact that about twice as many bikes fit into a motorcycle parking area when no bays are drawn? They have shown absolutely no care or interest in riders so far, making things more and more difficult, so why should they start caring now?
I’d share with you all the correspondence I have had with the council over the issues I have just noted (and many others), but I’ll spare you from the sense of powerlessness and frustration that one develops while reading it. To the whole parking/traffic team at Waverley Council, and to those who approve what they come up with: shame on you, honestly.
Having just read the May 2021 edition of The Beast, I concur with Ben Selinger’s letter. Since the upgrade has occurred in Spring Street I have been continually asking post office staff when boxes will be reinstalled. As I am an older person I still post birthday cards to my friends, as well as Christmas cards. Please, Australia Post, rectify this situation.
The Shared Village Project
If you can believe Randwick Council’s survey results, the Shared Village Project in Coogee Bay Road was overwhelmingly popular. The report indicated that 79 per cent of over 3,000 respondents rated the project as excellent or good, and 78 per cent wanted the duration extended. Of those wanting an extension, 86 per cent called for a permanent extension. The respondents who didn’t like the project suggested that car accessibility and movement should remain the priority. To underline the point, one respondent recommended the construction of a four-storey car park.
I wish to correct some statements made recently by letter writers in The Beast about Council’s upgrade of Varna Park, Bronte.
In 2019, Council received $280,000 in funding from the NSW Government through the Stronger Communities Fund to improve Varna Park. Council undertook two rounds of community consultation and letterbox-dropped residents about this consultation as well as advertising it on signage in the park. When completing the survey on Council’s Have Your Say engagement website, participants were asked to provide their postcode to help Council identify the number of local residents who submitted a response.
The fitness station was one of the items requested by the community during the first round of community consultation. During the second round of consultation, the majority of people who provided feedback were supportive of the idea, and Council believes that this level of support strongly reflects the desires of the local community.
The fitness station will cost $100,000, funded by the NSW Government’s Stronger Communities Fund, and includes the supply and installation of the equipment as well as the surrounding softfall. Council has also recently updated the fitness stations along the coastal walk at Marks Park, Tamarama and Gaerloch Reserve. The cost of these fitness stations is comparable to Varna Park, ranging from $90k to $160k.
Fitness and the gym is the second most popular activity for adults in NSW and, according to survey data of Waverley residents, is the third most popular activity after walking and swimming. Council is committed to supporting residents lead healthy and active lifestyles leading to well established health and well-being outcomes.
In 2020, Council removed two trees in Varna Park as those trees were dying. Those trees have been reused as play equipment and planting was supplemented last year when the trees were removed.
The majority of people supported the level of planting presented in the concept plan proposed during stage two of the consultation process. We are spending $26,000 on planting, including 513 shrubs and groundcovers. This equates to 10 per cent of the project budget, not 2 per cent as has been suggested.
With regards to the existing playground, it is not being removed. All existing equipment is being retained, expanded and upgraded with nature play elements made from the trees that were removed last year.
The Varna Park upgrade project is not deemed necessary to have an environmental impact assessment to be completed as has been suggested. No existing planting is to be removed in this part of the park upgrades. Only areas of turf are being removed to install the fitness station. I encourage readers to view our concept plans and consultation outcomes online at haveyoursay.waverley.nsw.gov.au.
Mayor of Waverley
MONEY SPEAKS LOUDER
What is the point of people turning up to protest about Harris Farm, but ending up with Woolworths instead? Bronte Village has not been saved. Work has also started on the Waverley Bowling Club site. More protests without success.
Why bother turning up to meetings and getting upset and stressed out, when in the end money speaks louder?
Thank you, Noah
Dear Noah Hutchinson (7 years old, from Coogee) – Thank you for your dedication and gutsy move to put up beautifully handmade wake-up calls to all of us living in Coogee. We saw your posters on Dolphin Street and were moved by the message to “Love Animals, Please Recycle, No Hunting, and Protect Our Planet”.
If this is the leadership of the next generation, we feel a lot of hope and inspiration to look after our earth with you!
Waz and Pandy
Signage Fact Check
No, dog poop doesn’t contain phosphorus, the (red) element found on the striking side of match boxes. The white form makes a great (rodent) poison, releasing deadly phosphine in the liver. ‘Phosphorous’ and ‘phosphoric’ are technical terms for describing the nature of phosphorus’s compounds, as sweated out by students at HSC chemistry exams. Polyphosphates were once popular in detergents but now dropped because in waterways they are super blue-green algae fodder.
It’s phosphates, dear Randwick Council, that great fertiliser (but not for natives) that you should be warning us about on your glorious ocean walkway. Or is that Glori-ic?
Dear James – Although no longer in your distribution area, I often browse the online version of The Beast for interesting local tidbits. I was very happy to see in the April edition, Member for Coogee Dr Marjorie O’Neill actually asking her constituents for their feedback, in this case on the issue of Voluntary Assisted Dying. A recent Compass survey showed 82 per cent of people support the issue in the Coogee electorate, so it will be interesting to see if the feedback Ms O’Neill gets is similar. It would be great if my current MP, the Member for Vaucluse, Ms Gabrielle Upton, would do the same.
I was disappointed to observe the folllowing behaviour recently at the bus/rail interchange at Bondi Junction.
There are separate waste containers for ‘Recycled’ and ‘Waste’ within the terminus. Imagine my shock when a waste collector came along and emptied both into the one garbage bag with no separation.
One hopes this was a one-off, but who knows? What’s the point of having these separate containers? And is there any system to check that the waste separation is enforced?
The Bondi Junction bus sewer
In response to Norman’s letter in the March Beast and Con’s letter in the April Beast regarding an underground connection between Bondi Junction railway station and Westfield, a pedestrian link would technically not be very difficult to construct.
When the station was constructed, an underground passage between it and Bondi Junction Plaza, which was also under construction at the time, was actually built. The two ends were never connected due to concerns from shopkeepers in the Junction that they would lose too much trade if shoppers were funnelled directly to the new plaza from the station.
For a number of years after the station opened, the underground passage was repurposed as a ticket booking office for country trains, however, it has remained boarded up since the booking office closed.
It is unlikely that the link between the station and Westfield will ever be opened due to the negative impact on businesses on Oxford Street and objections from the owners of Tiffany Plaza who have blocked the construction of a direct connection from the railway station to Oxford Street Mall.
Back to Square One
Following up on Con Gestion’s helpful contribution in the April 2021 issue, I was happy to see the front entrance of Bondi Junction Interchange and the pedestrian ‘walkways’ on Grosvenor Street being closed over the past few weeks as the bus driveways were upgraded.
For a fortnight, pedestrians were first safely funnelled away out of harm’s way by walking on the Westfield side of Grosvenor when getting in and out of the interchange. Secondly, bus drivers didn’t have to worry about mindless pedestrians walking in front of their buses. Thirdly, the under-utilised entrances to the train station at Tiffany Plaza and on Grafton Street finally got some foot traffic as the concourse of the interchange was for ‘bus interchange customers only’.
I’m disheartened that the barriers have just come down, bringing the interchange back to square one. Pedestrians are again having to walk in front of buses when walking in and out of the interchange! Bus drivers have to watch out for pedestrians, yet again! Pedestrians will neglect the exits at Tiffany Plaza and Grafton Street, and the queue for the escalator from station level to the bus interchange will be crowded yet again!
To the public authorities (Transport for NSW, Waverley Council): close the Grafton Street entrance to the interchange permanently, NOW! For good measure, close the back entrances onto Newland Street too. This is an interim solution until a new station design suggested by Con Gestion is implemented.
If another pedestrian is hit and killed by a bus around the interchange, then in the words of Greta Thunberg, “We will never forgive you.”
An accident waiting to happen… happened!
Dear James – On Tuesday, April 13 I witnessed a man being hit by a car in Randwick. There were many witnesses and passers-by who handled the situation in a wonderful show of community. Eventually, the man was taken away to hospital in a full neck brace. I sincerely hope he has made a swift recovery.
However, this was an accident waiting to happen. The location: the back exit of the Royal Randwick Shopping Centre, i.e. the section of Avoca Street at the top of Milford Street. Everyone exiting the shopping centre and wishing to walk down the hill crosses here – despite heavy traffic at most times and no easy pedestrian access. It is most definitely a dangerous crossing (that I myself have faced many times). I have spoken to many people who complain that there should be a pedestrian crossing of some kind at this location. In 2016 I even emailed Randwick Council about this. Their response (brief excerpts of a longish email): “Council is aware of the pedestrian activity at this location,” “There are serious implications for the existing traffic flow pattern which must be considered and due to the cost and scope of works this installation will not proceed in the immediate/short term,” “I can give an assurance that Council is actively engaged in improvements to road safety, especially pedestrian safety, at the intersection of Avoca Street and Milford Street.” I appreciate that it is a tricky location, but five years on and nothing has been done. And now the accident waiting to happen… has happened. It’s about time for a solution to be implemented.
Surprise Tree Removal
Hi there, I’m wondering if anyone knows why the council is removing all the trees on Havelock Avenue? If anyone can enlighten me I’d be most grateful. I can’t find any other information online.
My flat was given privacy from the giant red-brick block of flats opposite and vice versa, and now it is just gaping for all and sundry to almost look straight in. The trees mostly protected my car from all day sun but it’s now being ripped with direct sunlight all day.
No leaflets or notification of this has been delivered to any residents. There’s been noise disturbance all day while trying to ‘WFH’.
One day it was lucky I was out, as upon my return there was a giant branch where my car would have been that would have caused damage.
I’m wondering if anyone can provide any answers around this? I think I’ll be moving when my lease ends in September now!
It’s gone from a nice, quiet, private little block of flats at the end of Berwick Street to an ideal spot for nosey curtain twitchers!
To The Beast – How was the fat shaming by Pearl and Irisa?! Although Pearl is often all over the place, I didn’t think she would be promoting this idea that only the beautiful people of Bondi shall be seen in public unless completely covered up.
To James – Many years ago, while working in the Cooper Basin where it reaches 50 degrees in the shade during summer and grown men cry into their cornflakes because they miss their kids, I too once saw a camel wearing lycra halfway between Thargomindah Waterhole and the Dig Tree and I still won’t give a XXXX for nothing. And remember people, when planning a holiday this year, that Queensland hospitals are for Queenslanders.
More on The Beast Cover Art…
Bums and balls
Dear James et al – I have followed the debate about the recent front cover pictures of bikini-clad women with interest.
Firstly, go you, for having the honesty and bravery for publishing all the angles – I think this is to you and your mag’s credit. It has also shown an alive interest by the local community in your mag and current cultural issues – which is also great to have such a space for exchange.
While I also feel some of the discontent about the images went a bit over the top (and it’s not really fair game to use one’s profession in a possibly threatening way in such a letter), can I suggest that you could look at balancing the scales by finding a local talent with a penchant for painting a strapping oceanic Hercules with all his glory bits nicely portrayed?
Fair’s fair. Be good to cater for all tastes.
WOMEN IN TOGS
Hello James – I read with great interest all the comments about the bikini bum painting that graced your recent Beast cover. As a strong ‘alpha’ type woman and mum to twin 8-year-olds, I am very conscious of what type of media they are digesting in this highly sexualised era. I grew up with all types of stories and stereotypes about women, including incredibly sexist and salacious TV shows like the Paul Hogan and Benny Hill series, to name a couple. So I often talk to my boys about equality and gender non-bias, compassion and respect for all people, shapes and sizes. I constantly encourage them to keep an open mind when it comes to art and self-expression.
My first reaction upon catching the cover of The Beast was – BEAUTIFUL! A lovely, idealistic version of a Bondi woman (with a great butt!)… strong, sunned and looking out to the ocean perhaps in contemplation or preparation for saltwater therapy. I totally get the whole argument around stereotyping and objectification of women, however I wonder if we can ever again enjoy the beautiful simplicity of one artist’s depiction of the female form.
I recently picked up a print of an artwork of ladies from last century on the beach and flipped it over to see that it was a Picasso! I wonder if the image was also considered lude or inappropriate for the time since it also shows a fair amount of ladies only skin. I love it, but then as with all art, this stuff is subjective huh!
Hi James – I love the May cover of The Beast. It is so very smart with great beachy colours as the weather cools down. It looks as good as any magazine in the newsagency and an immediate attraction to us locals with busy lives.
Hi James – Loving the mag and its great content as always. In particular, hats off for showcasing talented local artists on the front cover every month. Contrary to what some readers believe, after seeing the front cover of the January and March issues, believe it or not, I didn’t have the urge to go and commit a sex crime. What are these readers demanding, that we place a moratorium on artwork involving the human body as subject matter? Please do your best to ignore the tripe of those who have contacted you somehow suggesting that the artistic talent of two female artists is influencing a societal culture of sexual assault. Dangerously absurd.
Response to Mailbag Narks
Dear Beast staff – I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the respondents who took the time to contact your magazine last month, including some who also contacted local councils and MPs, for highlighting the issues that matter most in our community: a council upgrading a playground and a coastal community magazine printing a painting of a beach.
No longer should I waste my time worrying about when our freedoms will return following a vaccine roll out, when menacing playground designers and local artists are directly impacting on our well-being. Well done everyone for sticking it to junior council employees, a small newspaper business and a local artist, who must all be wallowing in cash in the middle of a pandemic – show them who’s an important ratepayer/lawyer/long-term resident around here. You’re the boss!
Dear Editor – The reality is female surfers DO NOT look like your March cover, nor do they want to be perceived as such. Women have fought for equal pay and equal rights in all industries, but sport and specifically surfing is one area where women have grappled to be taken as seriously as men. Gone are the days where female surfers were forced to wear bikinis in competitions (as entertainers rather than athletes) but only in 2019 did the prize money become equal. And this is only skimming the surface. If the editor had some insight into the history of women’s rights and listened to female surfers’ experiences in the sport he would not have assumed the outrage was only because of a scantily clad female covering yet another magazine. The January 2021 cover was bad enough but to further insult women and female surfers by representing them as a bum in a Brazilian bikini is shameful.
Instead of becoming defensive of his choices, I would remind the editor that he invited this outrage when he put his own misogynistic ideals on the cover of a community magazine. Consider what is happening in the wider community. The editor has a responsibility to represent social norms, something he should take more seriously, and take his ego out of it. To compare, Mark Hunter’s photo of Sally Fitzgibbons at Maroubra is a real representation of real female surfers. Put that on your cover.
Feminist (not an insult)
The butt cheeks painting
Dear All – Have you ever considered that the reason for the outcry over the sexualisation of the female is maybe because we as women are sick of seeing images like this only ever of the female body. If this was an image of the backside of a young male in a tiny pair of undies with his butt cheeks out there would either be an even greater outcry, because it’s a male and we aren’t used to seeing men sexualised, or there might be a newfound celebration of young men’s bodies being sexualised as it is with the often young female body.
I think the outcry is due to the gross imbalance of that it’s ALWAYS the ‘barely wearing anything’ female form that is given to society to gawk at. That’s why your readers are calling misogyny. Let’s reverse that and use young male bodies instead, ALSO wearing barely anything with butt cheeks hanging out as often AND as much as we see images of the young female body dished up for the straight male gaze. There is a very large portion of society who are straight female but our ‘gaze’ is never catered for in media material.
I think if there is an equal amount of images ‘celebrating’ and exposing both male and female bodies in the exact same way, nobody could call out misogyny. It would be equal. I know I’m sick of always having sexualised images of women everywhere and never of a male.