Down the drain

by Scott Podmore
7th December 2015

WARRANDYTE’S Melbourne Hill Road catchment residents say they are “outraged”, “devastated” and “extremely disappointed” with Manningham City Council’s decision to vote for a scheme that a 97% majority of affected residents didn’t want and also say they feel “abandoned” by two of our Mullum Mullum ward councillors, Meg Downie and Paul McLeish.

And our third Mullum Mullum ward councillor Sophy Galbally has entered the fray and blasted her two fellow councillors Downie and McLeish and the decision, which effectively means homeowners will be forced to pay a large sum from their own pockets to help x council drains.

Only 3% of the 125 affected residents in Melbourne Hill Rd supported the idea of paying for Manning- ham Council’s $2.2 million scheme to prevent what it describes as a “significant flooding problem”.

Homeowners where the drainage work takes place will be hit with varying amounts to help pay for the costs.

In a document lodged with the Ombudsman, there is an extract from the Manningham Drainage Strategy 2004-2014 published on the council website http://www.manningham.vic.gov.au/drains that reads “Council’s current policy requires 75% support of all properties within a contributory scheme”, yet council still advises that MHRC residents will incur a Special Charge Scheme at a cost to be determined.

Cr Galbally told the Diary: “Why did Cr Mcleish and Cr Downie support the officer recommendation? Beats me, I was under the impression we were trying to find a sustainable flood mitigation option. Yes, I am disappointed in both ward councillors. If the Melbourne Hill Road catchment area residents had their support we would have been successful in rejecting Scheme 1, the of officers’ preferred option.

“Considering that all along we understood the scheme’s aim was primarily ‘flood mitigation’, why would council approve one that causes more disruption to residents, clear 170 mature trees which will change the landscape in an area which has an environmental significant overlay?

“And for that, residents and all ratepayers are paying $2.2 million plus. On the other hand, the alternative, less invasive option would have cost $1.3 million … and it was reported by the consultants as providing the equal level of flood mitigation.

“The reason why the resident preferred option, Scheme 2.1 modified, lost is it didn’t provide a drainage outlet to all properties … it wasn’t about flood mitigation but about future development!”

Cr Galbally didn’t stop there, saying the damage to the Melbourne Hill Road Catchment streetscape with the removal of some trees that are more than 50 years old was clearly something the residents did not support.

“The residents of Melbourne Hill Rd will have many of their front gardens destroyed and pay for their own landscaping after they pay for the pipe connection from the roadside to their homes,” she said.

“These costs will be above what they will be liable for under the special rates and charges … all for the benefit of having something 100% of the residents didn’t want.”

In fairness to all parties, the Diary has given residents of Melbourne Hill Road Catchment, Manningham City Council, and councillors the chance to respond on pages 10 and 11.

The author of the article no longer resides in Melbourne Hill Rd.