News

Locals outraged over “unnecessary” VicRoads safety barriers

KANGAROO GROUND locals are outraged over a 17km stretch of road safety barriers VicRoads are currently constructing on Kangaroo Ground – St Andrews Road.

According to VicRoads, the project will benefit the community by increasing road safety and preventing high-speed collisions.

The Victorian Government has provided $6.2 million to the project.

But many locals, including Nillumbik Councillor for Sugarloaf Ward Jane Ashton, believe the project is a waste of taxpayer’s money.

“It really is an over-engineered mess in the middle of our beautiful green wedge,” she said.

While Ms Ashton is in favour of making local roads safer, she, and many other locals, are questioning VicRoads’ methods.

“The VicRoads’ data shows that speed reduction has far greater cost benefit than barriers,” Ms Ashton said.

Also worrying locals is the fact that VicRoads have built a section of the barriers near a major kangaroo crossing.

Kangaroo Ground resident Lia Williams says, “It is upsetting to see dead kangaroos on the road outside my property, slaughtered between the newly erected barriers”.

The barriers could also prevent local firefighters from entering properties during an emergency.

“We live in a very high-risk fire area; a barrier is going to block you into your own property. It restricts firefighters’ access and puts all of us in more danger,” Ms Williams said.

Another major concern for the locals and drivers is the safety of cyclists. Up to 500 cyclists travel along Kangaroo Ground – St Andrews Road each weekend.

“Cyclists [are] being forced along even narrower sections of rough road,” Councillor Ashton said.

Ms Williams believes the barriers are a quick-fix solution.

“Many cyclists use this road up to Kinglake. It is a really narrow road as it is, they should have used the money for cycling lanes. What they are doing is a blanket approach — put barriers where they are needed, not just on straight stretches of road because there are trees.”

Locals voiced their disapproval of the project with ongoing protests during April, with up to 40 attending some rallies.

The protestors have been gathering support through a petition and by passing leaflets to drivers as they stop at the road works.

“We have had a rolling group of protestors nearly every day for three weeks; many people have written to the Premier, their local MPs and VicRoads, but few have had their letters acknowledged,” Councillor Ashton said.

“Nillumbik Council has also written to VicRoads asking them to cease work and re-engage with the community.

“This is really a David and Goliath battle, with VicRoads ploughing on as quickly as possible,” she said.

The residents are frustrated that VicRoads have taken little notice of their disapproval and ignored the local community’s ideas.

“The community suggested improving road shoulders, particularly for cyclists, fixing up road surfaces, creating safer turnouts from Yarra Glen and Wattle Glen Roads onto Kangaroo Ground Road, and additional speed reductions,” Councillor Ashton says.

“For VicRoads it was community consultation but for us it wasn’t — we were ignored,” Ms Williams added.

Ms Williams believes a major issue in VicRoads’ assessment of the area is the fact there have been no fatalities for many years.

“There have been 11 accidents in the past eight years with no fatalities on the Kangaroo Ground – St Andrews Road in the statistics that we have [from VicRoads], yet Kangaroo Ground – Warrandyte Road has had 23 accidents in the past four years. VicRoads are doing nothing to improve that road,” Ms Williams said.

Local resident George Bernard agreed.

“I’m a local firefighter and I can’t remember the last time I’ve come to a serious accident [on the road] with fatalities or people having to be hospitalised,” he said.

VicRoads data confirmed that there had been zero fatalities on Kangaroo Ground – St Andrews Road since January 1 2006, while on Kangaroo Ground – Warrandyte Road there had been three fatalities.

The VicRoads barriers are being constructed throughout May, and are expected to be completed in June.

Pigeon Bank planning goes to VCAT

Community groups and neighbours join forces to try and appeal planning approval

FOLLOWING on from last month’s story on concern over a proposed development at 2 Pigeon Bank Road in North Warrandyte, several parties have appealed this matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) has joined forces with Friends of Nillumbik and the Green Wedge Protection Group to request a review by VCAT of the decision by Nillumbik Council to approve the planning application.

In addition, it is understood that the original objector, a neighbour, and a number of other nearby residents have lodged similar appeals.

One of the many grounds for the appeal by those who did not originally object to the council is that neighbours and community groups had not been properly advised of the application.

A directions hearing was set down at VCAT for last Friday May 5, intended to be a quick hearing to determine whether the late applicants would be allowed to appeal.

At this hearing, the barrister for the applicant requested the matter be thrown out because there had been no objectors to the original proposal before Nillumbik Council.

He contended the neighbour had put in a submission requesting some changes, rather than an objection and that without any objector there was no case to bring to VCAT.

Much discussion ensued on whether WCA should have been notified of the application, on the standing of the other community groups and their right to join in an action, and whether the community groups and immediate neighbours would be allowed to form a single group to appeal the decision.

The VCAT member, Ms Dalia Cook, reserved her decision on all matters, this is expected to be handed down within the next few weeks.

If the action proceeds, the next step is that the parties will attend a compulsory conference at VCAT on July 6 in an attempt to reach agreement.

If this fails, the matter will go to a full hearing which is not expected to occur before September, and may take between two and four days.

War Memorial shines as Warrandyte remembers

DAMP weather did not deter hundreds turning out for the Anzac Day memorial service this year at the Warrandyte RSL.
Some 150 people participated in the march from Whipstick Gully to the memorial at the RSL.
Lead by Ennio Torresan the march consisted of returned servicemen and women, their families, dignitaries and members of CFA, Scouts, Guides and local sporting groups.
The marchers were joined by an estimated 800 strong crowd to take part in the service around the memorial.
The address was conducted by John Byrne, who recalled the service of the late William Stringer who served in both World Wars, living in Warrandyte until his death at age 70 in 1965.
And what would Anzac Day be without the Bellbird Singers beautiful rendition of I am Australian and Barry Carozzi performing his haunting It’s Not a Soldiers Job to Question Why?
Following the requisite minute’s silence, wreaths were laid on the war memorial by local members of parliament Kevin Andrews and Ryan Smith along with representatives of other community groups and members of the public.
The memorial was vandalised on Sunday night prompting swift action by the community to restore the shrine in time for the Service.
Ryan Smith MP told the Diary he was inspecting the damage when he learned that the RSL was going to have to put on extra security to ensure the vandals did not return again before the service.
“I was lucky to be here at the right time because I was able to offer to pay half of the $700 costs of the added security which the RSL would otherwise have to find from their own pockets,” he said.
Warrandyte RSL President Hank Van de Helm thanked the community for the huge support that was given to the club after the desecration of the memorial.
Federal Minister Kevin Andrews said the act was “absolutely disgusting”.
“But the best answer to that is so many people turning out today,” he said.
Local Councillor Paul McLeish said he was “proud of the way the community came together to right a wrong”.
The restored memorial looked better than ever, so the silver linings from this despicable act were that Warrandyte’s war memorial received a face-lift and the RSL received that warm sense of community that rose from Warrandyte rallying together to erase the damage to our beloved institution.

Vandals fail to break Warrandyte’s spirit

THE WARRANDTYE community awoke to the sad news that the RSL memorial had been vandalised overnight.
The graffiti displayed the symbol for anarchy and the words “War is Murder”.
While vandalism is always a hurtful act, the defacing of the RSL’s war memorial on the eve of Anzac Day was felt particularly strong within the community.
The council were quick to act and soda-blasted the offending marks.
However, this process also strips the gold trim out of the words on the memorial.
Stephen Papal from Advanced Stone, a company that specialises in the making bespoke headstones and memorials, contacted the RSL directly to volunteer his company’s services and restore the memorial back to its former glory.
“I know what it’s like for RSLs and clubs to try and find the money to cover up something that’s been vandalised.
“I rang them because I knew they’d soda-blast it, the process should be to sand it and touch up where the graffiti has been.
“This will look magnificent tomorrow”, said Mr Papal.

Stephen and Ben Papal from Advanced Stone volunteering their services

Local Member of Parliament, Ryan Smith also visited the memorial to see the damage for himself and personally thank the men who had come out to undo the damage.
In an interview with the Warrandyte Diary, Mr Smith expressed his appal on last night’s criminal act.
“It’s just completely appalling that this has happened in Warrandyte, the vandals that did this — the very freedom that they are making a statement against were fought for by the people remembered at this memorial… that this has happened in Warrandyte is just disgraceful.”
Mr Henk Van Der Helm, President of the Warrandyte RSL stated: “We are pretty disgusted with this act but we’ve been able to clear it off”.
The Warrandyte RSL have decided to pay for security around the War Memorial tonight over concerns that the publicity that has been generated may encourage the “ratbags” to return.
Mr Van Der Helm is confident that the Anzac day ceremony will go ahead, as planned, tomorrow morning.
Victoria Police have issued a public appeal for information relating to the vandalism of the memorial, acting Sergeant Nick Bailey stated: “It’s sad to see this attempt to diminish the spirit of the ANZACs with this disrespectful act.”
If you have any information regarding last nights graffiti, please contact Crimestoppers on:
1800 333 000
Despite the attempts to deface the Warrandyte memorial, the RSL’s Anzac Day service will go ahead tomorrow morning, as planned.
The march will start from Whipstick Gully at 10:30am with a service to follow from 11am.

Whimsical wares in Warrandyte

Suzanne Reid’s favourite appliance isn’t her microwave or television – it’s her sander and these days it’s been working overtime bringing life back to old furniture.

As a lover of all things ‘whimsical’, Suzanne enjoys nothing more than finding discarded treasure and giving it a new life with some TLC, sanding or Danish oil.

She has a natural talent for looking at what some might call rubbish and see it in a new light with a varnish, a polish or lick of paint and turn it into beautiful, useable piece for the everyday home.

Originally Suzanne started putting her creations on eBay as a hobby but found her pieces were selling quickly and were in high demand.

When a shop in Warrandyte became available she knew this was her opportunity to expand her designs and wares and share with the community.

Her son Campbell also has a keen eye for finding those distinctive items as well as helping out in the store after school or on weekends.

With four uncles, three of which live on farms, she has a fabulous source of stock from clearing sales and estate auctions — plus her close family are on board, finding the odd gem at a garage sale or op shop and passing it on for refurbishment.

Suzanne occasionally buys items from the Rotary Op Shop, spends some time sprucing it up and when it sells, she donates 10% back to the Op Shop.

Whimsical Treasures has been cleverly set out with a theme of each room in a home such as a dining room, kids space, lounge and more.

This adds to the intimate ambience that is inviting and intriguing with little items sprinkled throughout each theme.

Look out for the cute little knitted bears, rabbits and pigs handmade just for the store.

Suzanne can accept items from the public that they’d like her to spruce up such as a sideboard or table – as long as they can fit in her front door.

She is also happy to accept donations that support her unique vintage/retro /repurpose style.

You can find Whimsical Treasures at the rear of 250 Yarra Street, Warrandyte

Further information: 0418 825 653 or email suzanne@whimsicaltreasures.com.au

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