NEWSLETTER JUNE/JULY 2024
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NEWSLETTER JUNE/JULY 2024

Upcoming Meetings

Monday the 26th of August at  7:00pm
Barwon Heads Seniors, Clifford Parade Barwon Heads
All welcome.

Hear from guest speaker Anthony Sheedy, Leading Senior Constable, Bellarine Neighbourhood, Bellarine Police Station. The topic is ‘scams on the internet and social media.’


Talking Heads

Thank you Trish for the beautiful winter edition of Talking Heads. We think it is a great read for all of us who want to know what is happening in Barwon Heads. We encourage local businesses to support Talking Heads and we will support those that have during winter.

Here is the link – please share it with your friends and networks: https://www.flipbookpdf.net/web/site/c1f7e40321763432f712915c0cfc24f201380535FBP31752840.pdf.html


Renew your membership

Thank you to our very loyal members, we have 200 for the past year. Please renew your membership and encourage your neighbours and friends to also join. We are looking for new ideas and members for the Committee – please share. Please click on the following link to our website or copy this link into your web browser and complete the membership form:
https://barwonheadsassociation.com/membership-2/

Make the payment using your online banking to the BHA Account:
Account Name: Barwon Heads Association
BSB: 633000
Account Number: 130256704


Notes from the May meeting

Thank you to our members who regularly attend our meetings, with great questions. The new CEO of Barwon Coast, Gareth Smith, was our guest speaker. Gareth presented a good overview of Barwon Coast and its planning for the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barwon Coast manages approx. 19 kilometers of coast from Ocean Grove to Breamlea. It employs 67 staff and supports numerous community groups including Barwon Heads based Friends of the Bluff and Friends of the Lobster Pot and over 1200 volunteers across Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads and Breamlea. Its main source of revenue is 3 caravan parks which generate revenue of approx. $10 million p.a. Barwon Coast also manage 32 leases and licences within its area with assets of approx. $60M. Future growth of permanent residents and visitors will see numbers grow on the Bellarine by 16,000 extra people and 30,000 in Armstrong Creek. It is expected that there will be considerable impact on our coast, coupled with the expected impacts of climate change.

Barwon Coast is about to commence a new planning process to identify and prioritise actions that are required in the public areas.

Issues raised by our members requiring further clarification from Barwon Coast included:

Race Horses on Beaches – our members expressed concern about the use by trainers to train race horses on 13th beach, and requested further information about their management. Gareth advised that there are on going conversations with the trainers and other relevant organisations.

Shared trails – Major issue with safety. Adult cyclists are using shared paths to practise gravel track riding. Members aren’t happy with the response that these trails are to be shared by all. It is felt by many that the safety of pedestrians is often ignored for the benefit of cyclists many of whom show little regard for others. There is the growing issue of electric vehicles and increased speed. We intend to write to Barwon Coast and request a safety audit of the shared trails to be conducted. Review of number and types of users, signage and capacity for Barwon Coast to have pedestrian only sections.

Master Plans – Gareth advised that there is going to be a significant master planning process for all public areas it controls.

Clarification of the overlapping roles of the various entities. There is still confusion about which entity is legally responsible for what. Gareth confirmed CoGG is responsible for dogs on beaches.


CoGG budget

We have been engaged with CoGG and our Bellarine Councillors on the Budget. We have written to CoGG as follows and are waiting for the response:
“The Barwon Heads Association (BHA) considers the Budget for 2024-25 to 2027-28 proposed by the City of Greater Geelong to be responsible, but suggest that a more detailed analysis and explanation of the proposed figures is warranted and required.

Changes Requested:
It is important for our City of Greater Geelong Rate Payers that the 106 pages of the budget include further analysis in the commentary about key issues including:

  1. Open and honest commentary about rates and capital expenditure.
  2. Overview of where the capital expenditure is occurring and how much rate revenue this growth is generating.
  3. Discussion within Council about funding some growth with higher levels of debt rather than increasing residential rates to high levels.
  4. A report illustrating rates raised per suburb or town within the City of Greater Geelong, and the capital returned to each town or suburb.

Our Reasoning
The City of Greater Geelong Web Site Budget Papers Introduction and the Mayoral comments need to acknowledge the following points.

It is noted that the City of Geelong is a major employer of some 1900 employees and has assets of $5.016 billion growing by 37% to $6.883 billion by 2028.
The Capital Expenditure for this four- year period is forecast to be $752.6 million whilst the Debt is only increased by $23 million.

The Capital Expense forecast for 2024/5 is $210.5 M and a schedule is provided showing how much is spent in each ward. The BHA note that $111 M of the Capital Expenditure is for new capital works.

This schedule is not reconciled to the total Capital Expenditure.

The operating surplus for 2024/25 is forecast at $2.07M and Residential Rates are proposed to rise by 4.5% and Farm Rates by 6%, whilst Commercial Rates fall 5% giving an average rate rise of 2.75%.

Whilst it is important to assist Commercial development, this increases pressure on households and farms. Many Bellarine residents have experienced Rate increases of over 30% over the last four years.

In 2023/24 the average rates within Barwon Heads were approximately three times the average residential rates of the City of Greater Geelong. It is noted that there is no Capital Expenditure for Barwon Heads in the 2024/25 Budget .

The operating cashflow forecast for 2024/5 is a healthy $170 M, compared with an operating surplus of $2.07 M after depreciation charges of $104 M. The healthy Operating Cash Flow funds much of the Capital Expenditure.


Planning updates

Plan Victoria
Some of us attended the drop in session in Portarlington on the new Plan Victoria. We met nice people from the department who seemed surprised that maybe the coastal areas of the state require a different model. This is the process our government is using to engage with the community on its plans for growth. We encourage all of our members to go online and fill out the survey. Here is the link.
Please visit: www.engage.vic.gov.au and “FUTURE VICTORIA” and fill out the Survey.

This is an important Survey for Victoria and the Bellarine, as the supply of housing is a major crisis in Victoria and will have consequences for Planning into the future.

The BHA has always been an active participant in planning processes and opportunities. When there is a state-wide process it is important for us all to understand the implications of this to our coastal village and our surrounding environment. The Bellarine has been protected to a degree by the Distinctive Areas and Landscape Statement of Planning Policy. However, lets not get too complacent. We look at all the development on our precious farmlands, the failure to properly plan for stormwater (e.g., Karaaf wetlands near Breamlea, and the need to buy Sparrowvale near Armstrong Creek are examples of stress to the environment from developments that are not properly thought through. We have minimal public transport and the trip to Melbourne on the train from Geelong can be quite an adventure.


Village Park update

We congratulate the Club on finishing the new building. It looks great in the park setting. However, there are a number of locals who are concerned about the poor landscaping and proposal to fence the site. We have written to the Council as follows:

The City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) in developing and adopting the Village Park Master Plan 2021 recognised the significance of preserving the character and landscape of the Barwon Heads Village Park. This is outlined in the document in the Statement of Significance – Landscape and Character (Section 4.5 p.32) and in Section 5.6 Proposed Actions which is to – ‘Adopt the Statement of Significance’.
Statement of Significance – (Extract). From the outside, the Park frames the main entrance to town from Barwon Heads Road, also bounded by Sheep wash Rd with views of trees, open space and Moonahs. Views to the threatened Moonah population are clearly visible from the street frontages along Sheep wash Road and Geelong Road.”

It should be noted by Council that design for the new bowling club was approved considering the preservation of the natural park framed views at the entrance to the town. The wood façade in the design and additional tree planting to screen the building formed part of this design. A high, enclosing cyclone fence on the west facing entrance to the park was not in the design and is not compatible with the adopted Statement of Significance. This fencing was not detailed in any of the 49 detailed Proposals / Actions listed in the Village Park Master Plan which were approved by COGG and had the support of stakeholders. The BHA wish to direct council officers back the Village Park Master Plan 2021 which has the endorsement of community stakeholders when making decisions regarding park infrastructure which undermines landscape and character values.

The major concern which the BHA now have are:

  • Replacement of trees along the west side of the new Bowling Club to screen off the area and soften the view on the approach into Barwon Heads.
  • The proposal to Fence In the new Bowling Club building with a 1.8 to 2 metre-high Cyclone Fence along the western and north side of the building.

There has been no consultation with the community or the BHA as to where the fence will be going or what it will look like. None of the buildings currently encroaching on the Village Park are totally enclosed by a 2-meter-high cyclone fence. These buildings include the Tennis Club Rooms, Cricket/Soccer/Football rooms, the Pony Club facility the Kindergarten area or the Scouts Rooms.
The BHA would appreciate Council discussing the proposed Fence with other users of the Village Park and the BHA ensuring protection of the parks open space, environment and character.


Traffic and parking update

Our sub-committee met on 14 June. Representatives attended from CoGG, Barwon Coast, Barwon Heads Cycling and the Ocean Grove Community Association.

Regional Roads has always been an active participant at these meetings. We thank Mark Tonkin for his support and are very sad he has left RRV. We have been informed by RRV “The team now works across 20 municipalities across Western Victoria. As much as we wish we could attend the many transport related community groups, committees, etc. across the region, as you can imagine, this is difficult to do for all given the size of the area we cover”. We are in contact with the new team and will continue to engage.

Barwon Coast confirmed it is responsible for Jetty Road and other roads within its caravan and camping parks. 13th Beach Road – Barwon Coast has a formal partnership agreement with the City detailing each entities responsibility. Barwon Coast and CoGG are currently reviewing this agreement with the intention to develop a new agreement for the 19km of coastline for which Barwon Coast is responsible. . The agreement will cover assets such as roads, car parks, amenity blocks, paths and vegetation.

CoGG informed the meeting:
CoGG has received approval from TAC and Dept of Transport for funding of the following works under the Safe Local Streets and Roads Programme 2025-26 (being works identified in the recent council Barwon Heads Transport plan):

  • Mini roundabout at Geelong Rd / Hitchcock Ave intersection
  • 40kph signs on selected local roads

There are also plans to proceed with the following works during 2024:

  • Pedestrian refuge – Hitchcock & Ozone Rd
  • Safety improvements in Clifford Pde/Golf Links Rd, removal of keep clear spots to provide more parking outside the Seniors.

Cycling

There was significant discussion about the poor standard of some roads for cyclists especially the poor shoulders on 13th Beach Rd, the Spit & vegetation management along Ewing Blythe Drive. It was agreed, but not funded, that it is important for the roads to be fixed to provide a better environment for the rapidly increasing number of cyclists so that there is a better relationship with motorists.


Local News

The Barwon Water Sewer Upgrade Project is Underway and will be ongoing for some time.
There is an update by Barwon Water on their website. For more information check this website: 👉https://brnw.ch/21wGx1B

40kph speed zone on edge of town
Members of the BHA met with representatives of Barwon Water to discuss the changed speed limits on Geelong Road at the entry to town. We raised the use of 24/7 speed restrictions particularly in relation to the 40km/hr area at the Pumping Station and vehicle park entrance which we understand will be in place until the new sewer is installed.

Wakeboard Cable Park
The BHA has been informed that the Wakeboard Cable Park recently received an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage clearance for this project. We understand that it has been called in by Council.

Request a Free Tree
Remember that CoGG has a very active program for planting across the city. Visit geelong.link/RequestATree1 to order yours.

The North Bellarine Aquatic Centre
This is the new leisure and recreation space at the Drysdale Sporting Precinct. In response to strong community lobbying this 50 metre outdoor pool will remain open during winter from 6am – 10am during the week and from 8am to 12pm on Saturdays. We understand the pool is nice and warm (once you get in).

Portarlington Ferry
Member for Bellarine Alison Marchant announced on May 21 that the Portarlington Ferry would be funded through a $30 million investment in the 2024-25 state budget. Ms Marchant said the funding would continue the service for another four years to provide a long term convenient transport alternative. Close to 128,000 passengers used the service in the last 12 months, with more than 19,000 in January this year. There will be a revised bus network starting in June, with a public bus timetable aligning better with the ferry service. We also understand that there is a goal for the MYKI card to be used on this service.


Local Government Elections

The next Council General Election is Saturday 26 October 2024.
We are planning to organise a forum with Ocean Grove and Breamlea to meet the candidates in early October. We will put the date on our website as soon as it is booked.

Here is the information we published in the Winter Talking Heads
Following a review by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) the Minister for Local Government announced on 15 February 2024 that there will be 11 single-councillor Wards for the 2024 General Elections for the City of Greater Geelong. The Bellarine will now have 3 wards – Connewarre incorporating Barwon Heads, Breamlea and Ocean Grove, Murradoc incorporating part of Pt Lonsdale, St Leonards, Indented Head and Portarlington and Leopold incorporating Leopold and Drysdale.
Local democracy hinges on the need for councils to represent the diverse needs and aspirations of our local communities. The BHA has shared our concerns about single councillor wards, however this new model is now being implemented.

Changes to voter entitlements made by the Local Government Act 2020 (the Act) continue to be phased in ahead of the 2024 Local Government general elections, with the final stage of the reforms coming into effect. Be aware that from the 2024 Local Government elections onwards, the automatic entitlement under section 243 of the Act no longer applies and all owners not otherwise enrolled on the State roll, will need to apply to be enrolled if they wish to vote.

All candidates must complete Local Government Candidate Training before they are able to nominate. You can find out more and take the course here. The VEC publishes a range of guidance materials for candidates in the Local Government elections, including advice on eligibility, the nominations process and campaigning available here.