Port Phillip backs away from Trees, Greening, Kids Playgrounds & Pocket Parks in its Budget then takes up AlcoholIn city of port phillip, Port Phillip Community
One has to wonder what’s going through the heads of the Councillors at the City of Port Phillip after they adopted their budget this week chopping $810,000 (a reduction of 42%) from the previous year’s budget for such fundamentally important issues as street tree planting, alternate greening measures, upgrading children’s playgrounds and renewing pocket parks.
Their Council Plan, adopted at the same meeting, contains many references to Key Actions to deliver a Healthy, Resilient and Vibrant City yet they have failed at the first hurdle to provide the level of funding that the previous Council put into these types of actions. The Councillors will probably claim that the Defined Benefits Superannuation call-in of $11 million has caused them to have to reduce other expenditure but these items are capital spending which fall into a separate category. The option was also available to the Councillors to pay the $11M call-in off over a number of years and, given current very low interest rates, this would have been a smart decision.
So having hacked away at such greening and liveability initiatives, the bigger surprise of the night was the change to the St Kilda Festival Sponsorship Policy. This will now allow alcohol companies to be sponsors of the Festival, a decision that so fundamentally cuts across the efforts of Council over many years to improve the staging of the Festival so that it never reverts to the drunken orgy of some years ago. There have been many carefully spun words by Council in relation to this decision but fundamentally it is a most unfortunate step backwards. In July last year, Council received a report back from Sound Campaign (reputedly the best in the business of getting sponsors for such events) and their very clear advice was that sponsors were reluctant because the Festival was perceived as one huge party and they didn’t want to be associated with it. However, there was high demand from the alcohol companies because of the match between their offerings and this perception of the Festival.
The problem facing Council is the cost of staging this St Kilda Festival, now approaching $2M from local ratepayers. I can only see this change to the Sponsorship Policy to be a desperate attempt to keep it going in its current format. Time for some tougher decision making about the structure of the Festival and Council needs to be more creative to incubate and support live music in the municipality.