2 May 2012

 

Dear Councillor,

In pursuance of the provisions of the Local Government Act, 1993 and the Regulations thereunder, notice is hereby given that a POLICY REVIEW COMMITTEE MEETING of Penrith City Council is to be held in the Passadena Room, Civic Centre, 601 High Street, Penrith on Monday 7 May 2012 at 7:00PM.

Attention is directed to the statement accompanying this notice of the business proposed to be transacted at the meeting.

Yours faithfully

 

 

Alan Stoneham

General Manager

 

BUSINESS

 

1.           LEAVE OF ABSENCE

Leave of absence has been granted to:

Councillor Jim Aitken OAM - 16 April 2012 to 11 May 2012 inclusive.

 

2.           APOLOGIES

 

3.           CONFIRMATION OF MINUTES

Policy Review Committee Meeting - 16 April 2012.

 

4.           DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Pecuniary Interest (The Act requires Councillors who declare a pecuniary interest in an item to leave the meeting during discussion of that item)

Non-Pecuniary Conflict of Interest – Significant and Less than Significant (The Code of Conduct requires Councillors who declare a significant non-pecuniary conflict of interest in an item to leave the meeting during discussion of that item)

 

5.           ADDRESSING THE MEETING

 

6.           MAYORAL MINUTES

 

7.           NOTICES OF MOTION TO RESCIND A RESOLUTION

 

8.           NOTICES OF MOTION

 

9.           DELIVERY PROGRAM REPORTS

 

10.         REQUESTS FOR REPORTS AND MEMORANDUMS

 

11.         URGENT BUSINESS

 

12.         CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS


POLICY REVIEW COMMITTEE MEETING

 

Monday 7 May 2012

 

table of contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

meeting calendar

 

 

confirmation of minutes

 

 

DELIVERY program reports

 


2012 MEETING CALENDAR

January 2012 - December 2012

(adopted by Council on 21 November 2011)

 

 

 

TIME

JAN

FEB

MAR

APRIL

MAY

JUNE

JULY

AUG

SEPT

OCT

NOV

DEC

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

Mon

 

Ordinary Council Meeting

7.30pm

 

6

5

 

 

 

9

20#@

3ü

15∞

5

10

(7.00pm)

 

20#@

26

23v

21#

25*

23

 

24^\

(7.00pm)

 

19#

 

Policy Review Committee

7.00pm

 

 

 

 

7

4

2

13

 

 

 

3

 

13

19

16

 

 

30

 

 

8

12

 

 

 v

Meeting at which the Draft Operational Plan for 2012-2013 is endorsed for exhibition

 *

Meeting at which the Operational Plan for 2012-2013 is adopted

 #

Meetings at which the Operational Plan quarterly reviews are presented

 @

Delivery Program progress reports

 ^

Election of Mayor/Deputy Mayor

 ü

Meeting at which the 2011-2012 Annual Statements are presented

 

Meeting at which any comments on the 2011-2012 Annual Statements are presented

\

The opportunity may be taken to move this meeting to the 17 September 2012, should the election result be declared early.

 

The Ordinary Council Election will be held on 8 September 2012

-            Extraordinary Meetings are held as required.

-            Members of the public are invited to observe meetings of the Council (Ordinary and Policy Review Committee).

Should you wish to address Council, please contact the Senior Governance Officer, Glenn Schuil.

 


UNCONFIRMED MINUTES

 OF THE POLICY REVIEW COMMITTEE MEETING OF PENRITH CITY COUNCIL HELD IN THE PASSADENA ROOM, PENRITH

ON MONDAY 16 APRIL 2012 AT 7:05PM

PRESENT

His Worship the Mayor, Councillor Greg Davies, Deputy Mayor, Councillor Jackie Greenow and Councillors Kaylene Allison, Robert Ardill, Kevin Crameri OAM, Mark Davies, Ross Fowler OAM, Prue Guillaume (arrived 7:09 pm), Marko Malkoc, Karen McKeown, Kath Presdee and John Thain.

 

LEAVE OF ABSENCE

Leave of Absence was previously granted to Councillor Jim Aitken OAM for the period 16 April 2012 to 11 May 2012 inclusive.

APOLOGIES

PRC 13  RESOLVED on the MOTION of Councillor Jackie Greenow seconded Councillor Marko Malkoc that apologies be accepted for Councillors Ben Goldfinch, Tanya Davies and from Councillor Prue Guillaume for her late arrival.

 

CONFIRMATION OF MINUTES - Policy Review Committee Meeting - 19 March 2012

PRC 14  RESOLVED on the MOTION of Councillor Marko Malkoc seconded Councillor Karen McKeown that the minutes of the Policy Review Committee Meeting of 19 March 2012 be confirmed.

 

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

 

Nil.

 

DELIVERY PROGRAM REPORTS

 

A City of Opportunities

 

2        NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan

Engineering Services Manager, Adam Wilkinson introduced the report and invited Noel Child of NG Child and Associates to give a presentation.                                                                                

PRC 15  RESOLVED on the MOTION of Councillor Kevin Crameri OAM seconded Councillor Robert Ardill

That:

1.     The information contained in the report on NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan be received

2.     Council officers finalise a submission on the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan Discussion Paper and lodge it with Transport for NSW by 27 April 2012.

 

 

 

A Green City

 

3        Western Sydney Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) Squad

Acting Group Manager City Presentation, Tracy Chalk introduced the report and invited RID Squad Co-ordinator, Barry Ryan to give a presentation.

Councillor John Thain left the meeting, the time being 8:15pm.

 

Councillor John Thain returned to the meeting, the time being 8:18pm.

 

Councillor Mark Davies left the meeting, the time being 8:20pm.

 

Councillor Prue Guillaume left the meeting, the time being 8:22pm.

 

Councillor Mark Davies returned to the meeting, the time being 8:23pm.

 

Councillor Prue Guillaume returned to the meeting, the time being 8:26pm.

 

Councillor Kath Presdee left the meeting, the time being 8:28pm.

 

PRC 16  RESOLVED on the MOTION of Councillor Kevin Crameri OAM seconded Councillor Ross Fowler OAM

That:

1.     The information contained in the report and presentation on the Western Sydney Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) Squad be received.

2.     Council exercise its option to extend the Western Sydney Regional Illegal (RID) Squad Strategic Alliance Agreement.

3.     A further report be brought to a future Policy Review Meeting on the cost of collection and disposal of orphan waste within the Penrith LGA.

 

 

A City of Opportunities

 

Councillor Kath Presdee returned to the meeting, the time being 8:34pm.

 

1        Organisational Communications Policy

Group Manager Information and Customer Relations, Brian Steffen gave a brief introduction to the report.                                                                                                                                            

PRC 17  RESOLVED on the MOTION of Councillor Jackie Greenow seconded Councillor Prue Guillaume

That:

1.       The information contained in the report on Organisational Communications Policy be received

2.       The Communications policy below replaces the former Media Liaison Policy:

 

i.        Any Penrith City Council related external or internal communication     that is likely to be seen by 500 or more people, including but not   limited to marketing or publicity collateral, brochures, posters,         newsletters, email and correspondence must be authorised by a           Communications Officer.

 

ii.       Only the General Manager, Mayor, a Communications Officer, or any            other officer after consultation with a Communications Officer, can                  make comments on behalf of Council to the media, including posts on            social media.

 

iii.      Communications Officers will liaise with the relevant subject matter               officers prior to providing a final response to the media and before           making a social media post.

 

 

There being no further business the Chairperson declared the meeting closed the time being 8:36pm.

    



DELIVERY PROGRAM REPORTS

 

Item                                                                                                                                       Page

 

 

A Leading City

 

1        Proposed Changes to the Local Environmental Plan Making Process

 

2        Funding to investigate the feasibility of an Environmental Upgrade Agreement Policy for Penrith City

 

A City of Opportunities

 

3        Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Digital Hubs Program

   

A Vibrant City

 

4        Smoking at School Entrances

 

 


 

 

 

 

THIS PAGE HAS BEEN LEFT BLANK  INTENTIONALLY


A Leading City

 

Item                                                                                                                                       Page

 

1        Proposed Changes to the Local Environmental Plan Making Process

 

2        Funding to investigate the feasibility of an Environmental Upgrade Agreement Policy for Penrith City

 

 



Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                                            7 May 2012

A Leading City

 

 

1

Proposed Changes to the Local Environmental Plan Making Process   

 

Compiled by:               Paul Grimson, Sustainability & Planning Manager

Authorised by:            Paul Grimson, Sustainability & Planning Manager  

 

Objective

We plan responsibly for now and the future

Community Outcome

A Council that plans responsibly for a sustainable future (3)

Strategic Response

Build our City's future on the principles of sustainability (3.1)

       

 

Executive Summary

The NSW State Government is seeking feedback on a Draft Policy Statement related to proposed changes to the plan making process for local environmental plans (LEPs).

Specifically, these changes would involve:

 

·    Allowing councils to have the final approval role for some types of LEPs, and

·    Allowing independent reviews of plan making decisions at key stages in the plan making process.

 

The proposed changes present councils with something of a “two-edged sword”.  The proposal to delegate certain plan making functions to councils has the potential to save significant time in the making of the identified classes of LEPs.  These changes are generally welcome and should be supported.  Conversely, the proposed introduction of independent reviews to the plan making process is considered to be counter-productive, will not achieve the stated aims of the proposed changes and will undermine the legitimate local policy making role of local government.  It is felt that Council should oppose these latter changes in the strongest terms.

 

It is therefore recommended that the submission at Appendix 2 be endorsed and that Council seek the support of the local Members for Council’s submission. The views expressed in the submission on each of the proposed changes reflect those advanced previously by Council in correspondence and submissions to Government relating to LEP processes. 

 

Introduction

The NSW State Government has released a Draft Policy Statement, and is seeking feedback, on proposed changes to the plan making process for LEPs under Part 3 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (the EP&A Act).

The purpose of this report is to explain the proposed changes and recommend that Council make a submission to the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DP&I).  It will also be recommended that Council seek representations from local Members to the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure (the Minister) with respect to aspects of the proposed changes highlighted in this report.

 

 

Proposed Changes

The State Government is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the NSW planning system and, in particular, the EP&A Act.  This review will, amongst other things, examine the approach to plan making that is presently governed by Part 3 of the EP&A Act.  However, the DP&I is proposing a number of changes to plan making in advance of the broader review aimed at making plan making processes more “local and accountable”.  Specifically, these changes would involve:

 

·    Allowing councils to have the final approval role for some types of LEPs, and

·    Allowing independent reviews of plan making decisions at key stages in the plan making process.

 

Appendix 1 to this report provides a copy of the DP&I’s fact sheet and Draft Policy Statement relating to the proposed changes and the salient points of each of these changes are discussed below.

 

Delegations to make LEPs

It is proposed to delegate to councils the Minister’s functions under section 59(2), (3) and (4) of the EP&A Act for the following types of LEPs:

 

·    Mapping alterations/corrections that do not alter strategy endorsed development standards

·    Section 73A matters e.g. amending references to documents/agencies, minor errors and anomalies

·    Reclassifications of land consistent with a strategy or supported by an adopted Open Space study

·    Heritage LEPs supported by an Office of Environment and Heritage endorsed study, and

·    Spot rezoning consistent with an endorsed strategy or surrounding zones or in accordance with broader Government policy.

 

The delegation for the above purposes would be provided to a council when a Gateway determination is issued.

 

Whilst councils will still be required to undertake all current processes up to, and including, obtaining a Gateway determination, the effect of the delegation will mean that councils will be able to manage the remainder of the LEP making process including:

 

·    Exhibiting the Planning Proposal in accordance with the terms of the Gateway determination

·    Considering submissions and, if required, amend the Planning Proposal in response to issues raised in submissions

·    Determine if the Planning Proposal warrants re-exhibition where post-exhibition amendments are made

·    Instruct the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel (PCO) on the drafting of the LEP instrument in accordance with the DP&I’s instructing protocols and templates

·    Negotiate directly with the PCO on the final wording of the LEP instrument and final form of associated maps

·    Request the final LEP to be made and notified.

 

In exercising the delegations, councils will be required to report to DP&I on certain details of the process to facilitate the monitoring and oversight of plan making.

 

Commentary

The above delegations are a welcome step in recognising the expertise of local government in plan making and have the potential to save significant time in the making of the identified classes of LEPs. They reflect the views expressed by Council in correspondence with the DP&I on many occasions and in submissions to Government relating to LEP processes.

Despite the DP&I’s intentions that the introduction of the Gateway process would streamline and “speed up” the making of LEPs, it has in fact had the opposite effect.  Since 2009, when Council endorsed Stage 1 of the City wide LEP (now Penrith LEP 2010) and the City wide Heritage LEP, a cumulative total of 3.8 years has been lost in the time taken for the DP&I to deal with its elements of plan making for the various LEPs that this Council has dealt with. 

 

This is not the total time taken in the DP&I’s processes (which is significantly longer) but represents the time lost from the date that conclusion of each element was promised by DP&I and the date that a response is actually received.  In the case of the City wide Heritage LEP, that LEP has still not been gazetted two and a half years after its endorsement by Council.  These delays have occurred notwithstanding multiple and regular submissions, letters and representations to the Director General, Deputy Director General and relevant Executive Directors by Council.

 

It is noted that the source of much of the delays experienced since 2009 relates to two key steps in the DP&I’s process:

 

·  Firstly in the time taken to consider new Planning Proposals and issue Gateway determinations which authorise public exhibition, and

·  Secondly in the DP&I’s post exhibition consideration and gazettal processes.

 

Whilst the proposed changes will assist in reducing the timeframes associated with the latter element, they will not address the former source of delay.  This is because the proposed changes still require councils to obtain a Gateway determination before it can exhibit the identified classes of LEPs.

 

Prior to the introduction of the Gateway process for plan making, councils were granted delegation from the Director General to issue their own certificates under s65 of the EP&A Act (the equivalent to a Gateway determination) for minor LEPs.  It is recommended that our submission to Government on this matter should request that the proposed delegations be extended to include the ability for councils to issue their own Gateway determinations for the identified classes of LEPs. This would significantly reduce the delays currently being experienced in placing a Planning Proposal on public exhibition.

 

The proposed changes would enable councils to instruct the PCO to prepare the formal written LEP instrument in accordance with the DP&I’s current templates and guidelines.  Whilst this is welcome, the current process is cumbersome and frequently results in the PCO misinterpreting the council’s planning intent. This requires multiple iterations and difficult negotiations with the PCO to achieve the desired outcome and invariably adds significant time to the process.

Again, prior to the introduction of the Gateway process, councils prepared their own draft LEP instruments and these were exhibited as part of the public consultation process.  Council planning staff are, therefore, highly skilled in the preparation of these legal documents and can assure that the drafted instrument accurately reflects the council’s planning intent.  It is therefore recommended that our submission also request that the instructing processes for the PCO be substantially improved and streamlined and include the requirement for councils to prepare and submit a draft LEP instrument as a basis of the instructions to, and negotiation with, the PCO.

 

Whilst the proposed delegations are seen as a positive step in allowing councils to regain some control of the plan making process, they will require additional resourcing and it will be important to ensure that this measure is not used to simply redirect workloads from the DP&I to councils.  There are a number of issues within the DP&I’s Draft Policy Statement that require clarification or on which the Draft Policy Statement is silent.  Clarity around these issues is required for officers to properly assess the effectiveness of the new processes and the additional workloads that will ensue.  This clarification will be sought through our submission and through direct discussions with the relevant Branch of DP&I.

 

Independent Reviews

The second area of proposed change to the plan making process is to enable proponents to seek independent reviews of Planning Proposals (predominantly for rezoning of land).  It is proposed that independent reviews could be sought by applicants at two stages in the plan making process:

 

·    Pre-gateway reviews – These may be requested by a proponent before a Planning Proposal has been submitted for a Gateway determination.  They would be available where either a council has decided not to proceed with a Planning Proposal, or a council has not made a decision after 60 days of receiving the proponents Planning Proposal.

·    Gateway reviews – These may be requested by a proponent or a council following a Gateway determination but before community consultation on the Planning Proposal has commenced.  Gateway reviews would be requested in cases where the Gateway has determined that a Planning Proposal not proceed further or where a proponent or a council is dissatisfied with the terms of the Gateway determination.

 

The proposed independent reviews would be predominantly undertaken by Joint Regional Planning Panels (JRPPs) but could also be undertaken by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) in certain circumstances.

 

Where a council has decided not to proceed with a Planning Proposal, the proponent must request an independent review within 40 days of notification of the council’s decision. Where a council has not made a decision on a Planning Proposal within 60 days, a proponent must request an independent review within 40 days of the end of the 60 day period.

 

For a Planning Proposal to be eligible for a pre-gateway review, the proponent must demonstrate that it meets certain criteria.  The eligibility criteria for pre-gateway reviews, as well as the steps for seeking both forms of independent reviews, are set out in the DP&I’s Draft Policy Statement at Appendix 1.

 

In the case of a pre-gateway review, where the JRPP recommends that a Planning Proposal should proceed to the Gateway and where the request for the review has resulted from council delays in determining whether the Planning Proposal should proceed, the Minister may request the council to submit a Planning Proposal to the Gateway within 40 days.  The Minister may also decide to appoint an alternative relevant planning authority (RPA) to conduct the remaining steps in the Gateway process.  That is, the Minister can remove the council from the process.  In most cases, the alternative RPA will be the Director General for Planning and Infrastructure.

 

Commentary

Whilst proponents have always been able to lobby the State Government in relation to LEP matters, and whilst LEPs have always been open to challenge on the basis of “process”, the proposals for independent reviews represents the first formal introduction of “merit based” challenge of decisions by councils in LEP processes.  As such, it can be considered to be a first step in the introduction of merit based appeals against LEPs, something that has not been a feature of the EP&A Act since its inception 30 years ago.

 

The setting of local policy is a vital and fundamental role of local government and elected councillors (as established under the Local Government Act) in the same way that State Governments establish laws and policy frameworks for NSW.  LEPs and the land use zoning and regulatory framework they embody represent one of the highest orders of local policy.  In establishing such a policy framework, the elected council represents the whole of the community in making statements about how a city should look, feel and develop over time for the benefit of that community, not individual interests.

 

The proposed introduction of independent reviews, and particularly pre-gateway reviews, is considered to be highly inappropriate and will potentially undermine the legitimate local policy making role of councils.  In creating a further formalised basis for the Minister to remove councils from local plan making the proposed changes are similar to the previous Part 3A environment which the current Government has sought to overturn.  The difference between the previous Part 3A process and the proposed changes is that the latter can potentially apply to LEPs at all levels, not just those deemed to be of State significance. 

Two of the stated aims of the proposed changes are to provide “timely decision making” and “greater certainty for investors and communities”.  It is felt that the introduction of independent reviews is contrary to both these aims.  Independent reviews at either the pre-gateway and Gateway stages, or both, will add substantial time and resource allocation to the LEP process.  It will also leave both proponents and the community with substantially less certainty of outcomes.

 

It is considered that the proposed 60 day timeframe within which councils must consider whether to proceed with a Planning Proposal is both arbitrary and inappropriate.  Most Planning Proposals are complex, requiring multiple iterations and the provision of additional supporting material from proponents to allow a Planning Proposal to be properly assessed.  Virtually all of the Planning Proposals considered by Council in recent times, such as the Planning Proposals for Panthers Penrith, Fernhill and “the Knoll” could not have been dealt with adequately in this timeframe to provide Council with a thorough and well developed Planning Proposal to consider.  This timeframe is also difficult to reconcile with previous DP&I proposals for complex development applications of 70 and 90 days.

It is also noted that none of the State Government’s planning processes are subject to any similar review processes, transparency measures and scrutiny and are certainly not subject to any timeframes.  In light of the discussion earlier in this report on delays in the LEP process, it is felt that it is the DP&I’s own processes that are in need of detailed overhaul rather than the introduction of further unnecessary control over council’s roles and processes such as the proposed changes for independent reviews.

 

In light of the above discussion, it is recommended that the proposed changes to introduce independent reviews of LEPs be opposed in the strongest terms through both Council’s submission to Government and representations to local Members.

 

Conclusion and recommendations

The proposed changes to the plan making process present councils with something of a “two-edged sword”.  The proposals for delegation to councils of certain plan making functions for identified classes of LEPs are generally welcome and should be supported.  Conversely, the proposed introduction of independent reviews to the plan making process is considered to be counter-productive, will not achieve the stated aims of the proposed changes and will undermine the legitimate local policy making role of local government.  Council should oppose these latter changes in the strongest terms.

 

It is recommended that the submission at Appendix 2 be endorsed and forwarded to the DP&I.  Further, that Council seek the support of the local Members for Council’s submission.

 

 

RECOMMENDATION

That:

1.     The information contained in the report on Proposed Changes to the Local Environmental Plan Making Process be received

2.     Council endorse the submission appearing at Appendix 2 to this report.

3.     Council write to the local State Members seeking their support for Council’s submission through representations to the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure.

 

ATTACHMENTS/APPENDICES

1.  

Fact Sheet and Draft Policy Statement

9 Pages

Appendix

2.  

Proposed Council Submission

3 Pages

Appendix

  


Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                                                            7 May 2012

Appendix 1 - Fact Sheet and Draft Policy Statement

 

temp


temp


temp


temp


temp


temp


temp


temp


temp


Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                                                            7 May 2012

Appendix 2 - Proposed Council Submission

 

 

Penrith City Council

Submission to the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure

Draft Policy Statement – Plan-making and Delegations

General

1.  Council welcomes and supports the proposal to delegate the post-Gateway plan making functions to councils for the classes of LEPs identified in the Draft Policy Statement subject to clarification of the matters identified below.

2.  Council strongly recommends that the proposed delegations be extended to allow councils to issue their own Gateway determinations for the same identified classes of LEPs

3.  Council strongly recommends that councils be enabled/required to prepare a draft LEP instrument to be submitted to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel (PCO) as the basis for instructing PCO to prepare and notify the final LEP instrument.

4.  Council strongly opposes the concept of introducing independent “merit based” reviews to the plan making process, particularly pre-gateway reviews, as this undermines the legitimate local policy making role of local government.

 

Delegations to Make LEPs

Proposal

Comments

LEPs to be routinely delegated

1.   Council supports delegation of post-Gateway plan making functions for the classes of LEPs proposed.

2.   It is recommended that the proposed delegations should be extended to allow councils to issue their own Gateway determinations for the identified classes of LEPs.  This would be similar to the previous s65 delegations issued to councils for minor LEPs and would significantly reduce the current timeframes associated with current Gateway processes.  This could be subject to DP&I guidelines dealing with, for example, where 14 or 28 day exhibition periods are required and the range of public authorities to be consulted for certain classes of LEPs.

3.   Clarification is required on the level of endorsement (i.e. Local or State) for the planning studies to be used to inform new LEPs for reclassifications and spot rezonings.  Can councils be autonomous or will they need to seek State Government’s endorsement of the planning studies/strategies?

Issue of delegations

4.   With regard to 2. above, it is recommended that, upon a council resolving to prepare a Planning Proposal for a class of LEP identified in the Draft Policy Statement, it notify  the DP&I of its intention and provide sufficient information to describe the proposed intent of the Planning Proposal.  The Director General would, at that point, issue the appropriate delegation to the council to undertake the remaining functions through to notification of the LEP.  It is also recommended that, for the identified classes of LEP, should a council not receive a response from the Director General within 40 days, it can assume that delegation is granted.

Procedural matters for delegated LEPs

5.   The proposal for Council to submit drafting instructions to and liaise directly with the PCO is supported.

6.   It is strongly recommended that councils be enabled/required to prepare and submit to the PCO a draft LEP instrument as the basis for the instructions to the PCO.

7.   It is recommended that councils be provided with standard templates for instruction to the PCO and clear guidelines as to their use in a range of relevant circumstances.  In this regard, it is recommended that the current complex and cumbersome processes for interaction with the PCO be substantially streamlined to facilitate rapid turnover of LEPs.

8.   It will be essential that the PCO be adequately resourced to deal with LEPs time effectively.

9.   The Draft Policy Statement indicates that the drafting instructions are to be copied to the DP&I “for monitoring and reporting purposes”.  Clarification is required on whether this is only for ensuring that Gateway determination timeframes are met (third paragraph under Delegations to make LEPs).

Reporting requirements

10. Similarly, the Draft Policy Statement indicates that councils will be required to report to the DP&I on processing times for delegated LEPs.  Clarification is required on the purpose of this reporting – to ensure Gateway determination timeframes are met; to provide advice on on-going improvements to the system; etc.

Independent Reviews

Proposal

Comments

Pre-Gateway reviews

1.   Council strongly opposes the introduction of pre-Gateway reviews.

2.   This represents the first formal introduction of “merit based” challenge of decisions by councils in LEP processes.   As such, it can be considered to be a first step in the introduction of merit based appeals against LEPs.  This is highly inappropriate and premature relative to the full independent review of the Planning System that is currently underway.

3.   The setting of local policy is a vital and fundamental role of local government and elected councillors (as established under the Local Government Act) in the same way that State Governments establish laws and policy frameworks for NSW. LEPs and the land use zoning and regulatory framework they embody represent one of the highest orders of local policy.  In establishing such a policy framework, the elected council represents the whole of the community in making statements about how the city should look, feel and develop over time for the benefit of the community, not individual interests.

4.   The proposed introduction of independent reviews, and particularly pre-gateway reviews, will undermine the legitimate local policy making role of councils.

5.   In creating a further formalised basis for the Minister to remove councils from local plan making the proposed changes are similar to the previous Part 3A environment which the current Government has sought to overturn.  The difference between the previous Part 3A process and the proposed changes is that the latter can potentially apply to LEPs at all levels, not just those deemed to be of State significance.

6.   Two of the stated aims of the proposed changes are to provide “timely decision making” and “greater certainty for investors and communities”.  It is felt that the introduction of independent reviews is contrary to both these aims.  Independent reviews at either the pre-gateway and Gateway stages, or both, will add substantial time and resource allocation to the LEP process.  It will also leave both proponents and the community with substantially less certainty of outcomes.

7.   It is also noted that none of the State Government’s planning processes are subject to any similar review processes, transparency measures and scrutiny and are certainly not subject to any timeframes.  In light of the extraordinary delays experienced by councils in the DP&I’s own elements of the LEP process, it is felt that it is the State’s own processes that are in need of detailed overhaul rather than the introduction of further unnecessary control over council’s roles and processes such as the proposed changes for independent reviews.

As stated above, Council strongly objects to the introduction of independent reviews. The following comments are provided only to address the matters raised in the Draft Policy Statement should independent reviews be introduced.

Proposals must meet eligibility requirements

8.   While eligibility requirements are supported, the statement that “proposals that do not reasonably meet the above eligibility criteria will not qualify for the review mechanism” is concerning.  Use of the term ‘reasonably’ is subjective.  Some of the phrases in the eligibility requirements themselves are also subjective; e.g. “likely to be supported”. The language used in any final policy documents and guidelines must provide maximum certainty of interpretation.

9.   The eligibility requirements are likely to require advice from service providers, key environmental agencies and other authorities.  However, the DP&I’s Guide to Preparing Planning Proposals indicates that consultation with public authorities occur after the Gateway determination.  How will the process work?  Will Council need to address the eligibility requirements as part of its assessment in deciding not to support the rezoning?  Will the DP&I seek public authority advice before deciding whether a rezoning is eligible for a review?  These elements require clarification and will potentially add significant additional time and duplication to existing processes.

When is there a review?

10. It is considered that the proposed 60 day timeframe within which councils must consider whether to proceed with a Planning Proposal is both arbitrary and inappropriate.  Most Planning Proposals are complex, requiring multiple iterations and the provision of additional supporting material from proponents to allow a Planning Proposal to be properly assessed.  Virtually all of the Planning Proposals considered by this Council in recent times, such as the Planning Proposals for Panthers Penrith, Fernhill and “the Knoll” could not have been dealt with adequately in this timeframe to provide Council with a thorough and well developed Planning Proposal to consider.

 


Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                                            7 May 2012

A Leading City

 

 

2

Funding to investigate the feasibility of an Environmental Upgrade Agreement Policy for Penrith City   

 

Compiled by:               Carmel Hamilton, Sustainability Co-ordinator

Authorised by:            Ruth Goldsmith, Group Manager - Leadership   

 

Objective

We demonstrate leadership, foster resilience and tenacity, and encourage innovation

Community Outcome

A Regional City that provides our jobs, education, services and entertainment (1)

Strategic Response

Demonstrate our leadership, and encourage innovation (1.1)

       

 

Executive Summary

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) is offering Council a non-competitive grant of up to $200,000 to assist in establishing an Environmental Upgrade Agreement (EUA) program.  This includes funding to undertake a feasibility study for implementing these agreements in commercial and industrial properties within the Penrith LGA.

 

The funding is time limited and, if accepted, payment of up to $100,000 is to be made in the current financial year, followed by an additional $100,000 in 2012-13.  Although the project is to be undertaken with a view to implementing EUAs within Penrith, this will depend on the outcomes and recommendations of the feasibility study, which is proposed to be undertaken as the first stage of the project.

 

The project has the potential to generate significant benefits for the City by encouraging the environmental upgrade of commercial and industrial building stock which is likely to attract further investment, reduce environmental impacts and increase the competitiveness and liveability of local building stock.  Higher quality building stock is a driver in attracting government and other high quality tenants.  There is also the potential for improved business opportunities and local jobs.

 

Participation in the project would also reinforce Council’s position as a leader in sustainability and provide an opportunity to work cooperatively with the other regional cities, of Parramatta, Newcastle and Wollongong in encouraging sustainable development within these cities.

Background

On 29 November 2010 amendments to the Local Government Act 1993 were introduced by the New South Wales Government to establish a legislative framework for the implementation of Environmental Upgrade Agreements (EUAs).  This was followed in February 2011 by amendments to the Local Government (General) Regulation 2000.

 

EUAs involve undertaking work in a commercial or industrial building that results in an environmental improvement and could include:

·    increased energy or water efficiency

·    pollution prevention or reduction

·    elimination or reduction of waste and other harmful substances

·    reduction in the use of materials

·    enabling the recovery or recycling of materials

·    enabling the monitoring of environmental quality

·    reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

·    reducing car use through the promotion of alternative transport.

 

An EUA is a voluntary agreement that is made between the owner of a building, their finance provider and Council, as outlined in the following figure.

 

 

The Role of Council in EUAs

The participation of Councils in EUAs is voluntary.  Should a Council wish to offer EUAs in its area its role is to act as a conduit for payment from the building owner to the financial institution.

 

Advice received from the OEH indicates that Council is not a party to the loan and has no responsibility in ensuring the quality or value of the works undertaken.  Under the agreement, if a building owner defaults on a payment the Council has no obligation to repay the financial institution.  Instead, Council commits to using its ‘best endeavours’ to recover the funds.

 

Payments are to be made through a dedicated account in Council’s trust fund and are not considered to be income.  Councils are able to charge service fees to allow recovery of upfront and administrative costs, as well as fees for late payment of charges.  These fees and charges are determined by individual councils on a cost recovery basis.

 

It is recognised that the proposal for Council to become involved in the financing arrangements between lending institutions and private parties is likely to raise questions about this approach, and whether this arrangement would present risks to Council.

 

Based on the information currently available it would appear that the attachment of a loan to an EUA provides additional security to lenders, better financing terms for building owners in the form of lower interest rates and longer terms, and a unique opportunity for building owners to pass on part of the cost of repayments to the tenants of the building through their lease arrangements.  The additional security to lenders comes from the fact that Council charges are given priority in any debt recovery.

 

The benefits for Council include the potential for upgraded buildings within the Penrith area which would act to attract investment, reduce environmental impacts and increase the competitiveness and liveability of local building stock.  There is also the potential for improved business opportunities and local jobs.  Participation in the project would also reinforce Council’s position as a leader in sustainability and in its commitment to encouraging sustainable development in the City.

Project Funding

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) is implementing a program to develop and promote the uptake of EUAs across the State.  As part of this program the City of Sydney, North Sydney, Parramatta, Wollongong and Newcastle Councils have agreed to take part in a funded project to investigate the feasibility of EUAs in their area and, where it is proven to be feasible, commence implementation.

 

City of Sydney and Parramatta were the first councils to become involved, and are now at the stage of actively offering EUAs in their local government areas.  Wollongong, Newcastle and North Sydney have only recently obtained their funding.  Penrith City Council has now also been approached by OEH to participate in this funded program.

 

Should Council wish to participate in the project and accept the non-competitive grant, $100,000 needs to be received in the current financial year, followed by an additional $100,000 in 2012-13.  The grant funds are to be used to undertake a feasibility assessment and, if proven feasible, manage the implementation of Environmental Upgrade Agreements in the council area.  The funding offered by OEH is offered without obligation to proceed, and should Council decide at any point to cease with this project any unspent monies can be returned to OEH without penalty.

 

Should Council choose to participate, the support of the other local government participants will be of value and add to the effectiveness of Penrith’s project.  In particular, Parramatta and City of Sydney have invested significant time and resources into the development of documentation and have indicated their willingness to share their resources and expertise.  This will be of direct benefit to Council.

Project Planning

An internal project team has been established to oversee the development of a project plan, including representatives from Legal and Governance, Finance and Sustainability and Planning.  Initial discussions of the group have identified the following key issues which would need to be addressed as part of a feasibility assessment:

·    legal, financial and other risks associated with the agreements

·    costs and benefits for the organisation associated with offering EUAs

·    the potential interest in, and market for, the take up of EUAs in the Penrith LGA.

 

Recognising these issues, the project team have ensured that the project plan includes a strong research component to ensure that Council’s decisions regarding the use of EUAs are supported by a comprehensive information base.  The project has been broken up into three phases as outlined below:

1.     research and feasibility

2.     documentation, systems and procedures

3.     pilot of EUAs.

 

Given the uncertainty surrounding the identified issues it is proposed to commit to undertaking the first stage of the project, which has limited risk for Council.  Although the project is to be undertaken with a view to implementing EUAs in the Penrith area, progressing the project will depend on the outcomes and recommendations of the feasibility study, which will be undertaken as the first stage of the project.

 

The activities to be undertaken will consist of a mix of those that can be completed with internal resources and those that will benefit from the engagement of specialist consultants.  Where possible the use of consultants will be preferred as a way of maintaining the capacity of staff members and minimising the potential for this project to impact on existing workloads.  Where works are completed using existing resources this will be charged to the project cost.  Key activities to be undertaken as part of the feasibility stage are outlined in the table below.

 

Stage 1 – Research and Feasibility Assessment

Commencement Date

Estimated Timeframe

Identify and meet with key stakeholders to build support, identify roles and facilitate a strong network for the project (includes other councils, OEH, PBA, the City Centre Associations, the Chamber of Commerce and financial institutions)

1 Jun 2012

Ongoing throughout project

Review all relevant documentation including legislation, standard template EUA and EUA Guidelines (from legal, financial and risk perspectives)

1 Jun 2012

8 weeks

Undertake a comprehensive survey to analyse the existing building stock in the LGA, the potential for environmental gains, and likely demand for EUAs

1 Jun 2012

12 weeks

Review outcomes of Stage 1 activities completed to date

15 Sep 2012

2 weeks

Undertake a preliminary review of internal systems to identify key areas for detailed investigation and changes required

1 Oct 2012

2 weeks

Undertake a comprehensive risk assessment workshop to identify and quantify all risks associated with the project and identify controls where relevant

15 Oct 2012

4 weeks

Review and report on outcomes of Stage 1

1 Dec 2012

4 weeks

Notify OEH of Stage 1 outcomes and Council’s decision

1 Mar 2013

-

 

Next Steps

Should Council wish to proceed with accepting the offer of funding, a Deed of Agreement is to be signed with the OEH.  This is sufficient for the transfer of the first instalment ($50,000) and must be followed by a detailed project plan that must be submitted within 30 days for the second instalment ($50,000).

 

To be eligible Council must accept $100,000 in the current financial year, although this funding need not be spent until 30 June 2013.

 

The detailed project plan must outline the activities that will be undertaken, along with key milestones and a project budget.

Conclusion

The project has the potential to generate significant benefits for the City by encouraging the environmental upgrade of commercial and industrial building stock which is likely to attract further investment, reduce environmental impacts and increase the competitiveness and liveability of local building stock.

 

There is also the potential for improved business opportunities and local jobs.  Participation in the project would also reinforce Council’s position as a leader in sustainability and in its commitment to encouraging sustainable development in the City.

 

If it is determined through the Stage 1 analysis that the project is not feasible, there is still benefit in having undertaken a comprehensive audit of the City’s current building stock. 

 

 

RECOMMENDATION

That:

1.     The information contained in the report on Funding to investigate the feasibility of an Environmental Upgrade Agreement Policy for Penrith City be received

2.     The offer of funding be accepted from the Office of Environment and Heritage for Council to undertake a detailed feasibility study on the implementation of Environmental Upgrade Agreements.

3.     Upon completion of the first stage the outcomes are to be the subject of a report to Council regarding its ongoing involvement in the project.

 

ATTACHMENTS/APPENDICES

1.  

Environmental Upgrade Agreement Fact Sheet

2 Pages

Appendix

  


Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                                                            7 May 2012

Appendix 1 - Environmental Upgrade Agreement Fact Sheet

 

temp


temp

 


 

 

 

 

THIS PAGE HAS BEEN LEFT BLANK  INTENTIONALLY


A City of Opportunities

 

Item                                                                                                                                       Page

 

3        Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Digital Hubs Program

 

 



Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                                            7 May 2012

A City of Opportunities

 

 

3

Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Digital Hubs Program   

 

Compiled by:               Ray Richardson, Grants Support Officer

Colin Stevenson, Library Services Manager

Authorised by:            Vicki O’Kelly, Group Manager - Finance

Brian Steffen, Group Manager - Information & Customer Relations  

 

Objective

We have access to what we need

Community Outcome

A City with equitable access to services and facilities (7)

Strategic Response

Base the provisions of services and facilities on principles of social justice and equity (7.1)

       

 

Executive Summary

The National Broadband Network is a new communication network that is designed to bring massively improved broadband speeds to all Australian homes, schools and businesses. The vast majority of premises will connect to the network via fibre-optic running underground or hanging from power poles. The remaining seven per cent in more remote areas will use fixed wireless and satellite technology. It is estimated that the entire project will be completed in approximately nine years.

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is being rolled out in Penrith and over the next three years over 25,000 premises in the LGA are expected to have access to the NBN.

 

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) have advised that Penrith will be eligible for federal funding as one of the first 40 communities in Australia to receive the NBN. Two programs opened on 13 April and applications for their delivery in Penrith LGA close on 10 May:

 

·    Digital Hubs Program

·    Digital Enterprise Program

 

Council is eligible to apply under both programs, and is proposing to apply under the Digital Hubs Program in partnership with Nepean Community College.

 

A consortium involving Penrith Business Enterprise Centre and the Nepean Community College are applying for the Digital Enterprise Program.

 

Other applicants are eligible to apply under these programs.

 

This report recommends that Council endorse the submission of an application requesting up to $350,000 to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy for the Digital Hubs Program in partnership with the Nepean Community College.     

Background

NBN Co was established to deliver Australia's national wholesale-only, open access broadband network to all Australians, regardless of where they live.

 

An initial roll-out area within Penrith is determined (see map attached); an indicative area for the next three years has been announced and the rollout will continue to expand over the next few years until all the LGA is NBN enabled. Northern rural suburbs will be connected via expansion from the Richmond and Windsor rollout.

 

Penrith City Council is applying for the Digital Hubs Program in partnership with Nepean Community College, with the intention that the Library will be used for one-on-one training sessions and the Nepean Community College premises for group training.

 

The NBN can facilitate:

·    Healthcare providers to diagnose, monitor and provide ongoing care to patients remotely;

·    Education opportunities irrespective of proximity to institutions;

·    Small businesses to increase online trade and access markets nationally and internationally;

·    In-home information and entertainment services such as video on demand, television from internet providers and high resolution video calls;

·    Increased teleworking and reduced commuting

 

NBN Co has advised that the NBN Discovery Truck will be in Penrith on Thursday 21 and Friday 22 June 2012 and Council officers are working with the NBN Co to identify a suitable site which at this stage appears to be the Penrith Swimming Centre car park.

 

NBN Co has also scheduled a Penrith Community Launch on Saturday 28 July and further details of the launch will be provided to Councillors as they become available.

 

Grants Programs

 

The Australian Government, through the DBCDE, will provide funding of $23.8 million over three years from 2011-12 for a Digital Communities initiative, a key focus of which will be to establish the Digital Hubs program.


Penrith City Council is applying for the Digital Hubs Program in partnership with Nepean Community College (the College), with the intention that the Library will be used for one-on-one training sessions and the Nepean Community College premises for group training.

 

The Nepean Community College is involved in a consortium application with Penrith Business Enterprise Centre for the Digital Enterprise Program. The College will again cater for group sessions; Penrith Business Enterprise Centre will provide individual consultations with clients in their business premises.

 

Eligibility for applications to DBCDE funding includes a requirement that the nominated facilities for delivery of the programs are within the NBN roll-out area, connected to the NBN via fibre-optic cable, or have suitable bandwidth for download and upload of material.

The Penrith Civic Centre and adjacent Nepean Community College premises are outside the initial roll-out area for the NBN and negotiations are being held with NBN Co to provide connectivity. An alternative connection with eligible bandwidth is being investigated as a back-up option.

 

Other grant programs are being made available from various funding bodies for NBN-related projects.

 

Another opportunity for our community is the Broadband-Enabled Australian Music Education (BEAM E) project, which is a joint venture between the University of Sydney (Sydney College of the Arts) and CSIRO (Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation) working with two of Australia’s most outstanding non-profit Community and Cultural Development organisations, namely the Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) in Western Sydney and the Footscray Community Arts Centre (FootscrayArts) in Western Melbourne. BEAM E gives collaborative groups of young people the opportunity to learn how to create, rehearse, record and publish digital music online in broadband-connected homes and community centres.  Council has provided a letter of support for this project.

 

Digital Hub Application

 

What is a digital hub?

To assist more Australian households get online and to narrow the gap between Australian households, a number of Digital Hubs will be provided in each of the 40 communities which will first benefit from the NBN.

A Digital Hub is a community-based computer training and internet access point containing a number of internet ready computers. Each Digital Hub will be run by staff that will provide training and assistance to explain the benefits of participating online, to drive greater digital literacy skills and to demonstrate the possibilities of using the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Through these Digital Hubs, local residents will be able to experience the NBN and receive training to develop the digital skills necessary to participate safely and securely and have trust and confidence in the digital economy.

Participants will learn how to engage in basic online activities such as setting up an email account; conducting effective internet searches; participating in e-commerce and online shopping; accessing government services; and connecting with family and friends online. Those who attend a Digital Hub will also have the opportunity to experience the kinds of online services and quality of connection the NBN can deliver.

Digital Hub Program Criteria

·    Community organisations, such as public libraries, local councils, community support services, and adult learning centres, can apply to provide the activities of a Digital Hub.

·    Funding available is between $150,000 to $350,000 (ex GST) for two years, with an additional $10,000 for marketing

·    Funding recipients must provide group and one-to-one training to local residents to increase their digital literacy skills, including administrative support

·    Recipients must provide a suite of appropriate technology and devices that will enable users to develop and experience an NBN enabled environment, including help desk support

·    Reporting criteria/requirements, including details of eligible activities and costs (e.g. equipment costs, program management, NBN connection costs, Internet costs and promotional/communications activities

·    Program targets i.e. numbers of users trained either in a group of one-to-one

 

Joint Application by Penrith City Library and Nepean Community College

 

A partnership between Penrith City Library and the Nepean Community College would have many advantages, and would replicate a similar and very successful Digital Hub partnership already in operation between Kiama Public Library and Kiama Community College who share the same building in Kiama. 

 

Attached, for your information, are copies of promotional literature from Kiama Municipal Council on their Digital Hub and Digital Enterprise programs.

 

Public libraries already play a pivotal role as hubs in their communities, with a highly successful record in building community engagement and literacy. Public libraries are well used by the most socially disadvantaged groups, provide public access to PCs, technology and equipment that many cannot afford and offer mostly free services in convenient community locations. Libraries have friendly and well trained staff with experience in providing research assistance and have been delivering internet training for many years. Access to faster broadband services will only further improve the performance of libraries in this role.

 

Community Colleges provide communities with opportunities for lifelong learning - students can learn at any point in their lives while taking advantage of low tuition, convenient campus locations, open admissions, and comprehensive course offerings. Perhaps most importantly, Community Colleges already have the necessary administrative infrastructure to ensure the efficient co-ordination of group and/or one-to-one bookings from members of the community and the scheduling of relevant specialist teachers for information sessions.

 

The Library and Nepean Community College partnership have the spaces and resources for learning and innovation to enable expansion of programs and applications to support and benefit the community. A partnership between Penrith Library and Nepean Community College would be a vital and an effective way of providing free access to members of the community and will provide training in internet and other technology basics to ensure those who are at risk are not left behind in the digital age.

 

Planned Digital Hub projects would feature futuristic Skyping domes for NBN enabled teleconferencing, live and interactive story time sessions for children, HSC education forums for high school students, author talks and online youth gaming nights with other public libraries. Other possibilities could include an interactive iPhone tour of Penrith City and digital local history projects.

 

The NBN will also facilitate an expansion of online services provided by the Library. These would include interactive web catalogues, social networking facilities for library clients, 24/7 reference services facilitated through partnering other libraries and so on. Library clients will no longer be located within the one local government area and may enjoy the services of multiple libraries via their web sites.

 

 

Partnership Responsibilities

 

A Memorandum of Understanding will outline individual partnership responsibilities:

 

·    The Nepean Community College would be responsible for the specialist delivery of the group training components of the program and will assist as required with administration (including bookings) and project management.

 

·    Penrith City Library would be responsible for preparation of the tender, project management and administration, the delivery of the one to one sessions and hub operation, with support from trainers from the Nepean Community College.

 

 

Digital Economy Strategy

 

Councils in the 40 sites selected for early roll-out of the NBN are developing, or have completed a Digital Economy Strategy to guide them and their communities into the initial years of the technological revolution that the NBN enables. Many LGAs (including Parramatta) that are not within the initial roll-out areas have completed their Digital Economy Strategies.

 

A Digital Economy Strategy will enable Council to embed planning for the NBN within all its projects, programs and strategies.

 

Some councils, such as Coffs Harbour, have created a stand-alone document; others, such as Kiama, are embedding their Digital Economy Strategy within their existing Operational, Delivery and Strategic Community plans. This would seem to be the best option for Penrith City Council, following the model of integrating Sustainability principles into all these plans.

 

A review of other council Digital Economic Strategies and the resources required if consultants are engaged to assist with this process are being investigated.

 

This topic will be the subject of a further Report to Council.

 

Conclusion

 

As work on the initial rollout of the National Broadband Network is expected in July 2012 it is appropriate for Council to facilitate and partner in applications for Federal funding that will provide exposure to the NBN and key skills to both our community and businesses in the LGA.

 

 

 

 

RECOMMENDATION

That:

1.     The information contained in the report on Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Digital Hubs Program be received

2.     Council endorse the submission of an application requesting up to $350,000 to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy for the Digital Hubs Program in partnership with the Nepean Community College.

 

ATTACHMENTS/APPENDICES

1.  

Kiama Digital Hubs and Digital Enterprise program flyers

2 Pages

Appendix

2.  

NBN initial rollout map Penrith

1 Page

Appendix

  


Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                                                            7 May 2012

Appendix 1 - Kiama Digital Hubs and Digital Enterprise program flyers

 

temp


temp


Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                                                            7 May 2012

Appendix 2 - NBN initial rollout map Penrith

 

temp

 


 

 

 

 

THIS PAGE HAS BEEN LEFT BLANK  INTENTIONALLY


 

 

A Green City

 

 

There were no reports under this Delivery Program when the Business Paper was compiled


 

 

 

 

THIS PAGE HAS BEEN LEFT BLANK  INTENTIONALLY


 

 

A Liveable City

 

 

There were no reports under this Delivery Program when the Business Paper was compiled


 

 

 

 

THIS PAGE HAS BEEN LEFT BLANK  INTENTIONALLY


A Vibrant City

 

Item                                                                                                                                       Page

 

4        Smoking at School Entrances

 

 



Policy Review Committee Meeting                                                                            7 May 2012

A Vibrant City

 

 

4

Smoking at School Entrances   

 

Compiled by:               Monique Desmarchelier, Health Strategy Officer

Anthony Price,  Environmental Health Co-ordinator

Authorised by:            Graham Liehr, Environmental Health Manager  

Requested By:             Councillor John Thain

 

Objective

We build on our strengths, value our heritage, celebrate our cultural diversity, and foster creativity

Community Outcome

A City that promotes health and wellbeing (21)

Strategic Response

Encourage the wellbeing of our communities (21.1)

       

 

Executive Summary

This report has been prepared in response to Councillor Thain’s request to investigate the possibility of implementing a smoking ban outside school gates.

 

The dangers to children when exposed to passive smoke or Environmental Tobacco Smoke are well documented. This report discusses current legislation, Council’s policies and includes details of past initiatives under Council’s Smoke Free Outdoor Policy in relation to reducing children’s exposure to passive smoke at playgrounds and playing fields.

 

There is a process for erecting notices under the Local Government to prohibit certain activities. This process could potentially be used to prohibit smoking outside school gates, although regulating compliance with these notices may be difficult and would likely be resource intensive.

 

A funding opportunity has been provided by the State Government as part of World No Tobacco Day, a national annual event on 31 May to raise awareness of the health problems associated with tobacco use. This funding could assist to progress Council’s Smoke Free Outdoor Policy including funding educational no smoking signs outside school gates for interested schools.

 

This report recommends extending the use of educational no smoking signage that has been successfully used at children’s playgrounds and playing fields at the entrances of interested schools.

Background

The dangers to children when exposed to passive smoke or Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) are well documented. As their bodies are growing, children are more vulnerable to respiratory infections and ear problems. The government has implemented several pieces of legislation that have a role in controlling passive smoke exposure including:

 

·    Work, Health and Safety Act 2011 - sets out the legal obligations to provide for the health and safety of workers.

·    Smoke Free Environment Act 2000 - introduced smoke free enclosed areas in public places and applies to shopping centres, malls and plazas, restaurants, cafes, cafeterias, dining areas, schools, college and university grounds.

·    Public Health Tobacco Act 2008 - it is an offence to smoke in a car with children less than 16 years.

 

The State Government has also recently announced further legislation to introduce smoking bans in outdoor areas including bus stops, taxi ranks, sporting grounds, public pools and public entrances to buildings. These bans will be rolled out commencing the second half of 2012. Smoking bans for al fresco dining will be introduced in 2015. At this stage the government’s expectation for local government to participate in the regulation of these bans has not been made clear. An update can be provided to Council on this issue when further information on the implementation of these bans has been made available.

 

Possibility of Smoking Bans at School Entrances

There is a process for erecting notices under the Local Government Act to prohibit certain activities. This process could potentially be used to prohibit smoking outside school gates, although it would rely on Council Rangers monitoring signs regularly and the issue of infringements to parents and other carers.

 

While there may be a framework to erect notices, additional resources would be needed to monitor compliance as there are approximately 80 primary and high schools is the City. Council’s Rangers already dedicate significant resources to monitoring and regulating parking within the City, including school zones to ensure the safety and well-being of children and parents. Regulating compliance with additional notices may be difficult and would likely be resource intensive.

 

There is also evidence from previous initiatives as part of Council’s Smoke Free Policy that educational initiatives including the use of appropriate signage can be successful, particularly because it receives community support. Also, parents and carers tend to encourage others to observe the non smoking areas for the health benefits of their children.

 

Alternative to a Smoking Ban

As part of Council’s Smoke Free Outdoor Policy educational no smoking signage used at children’s playgrounds and playing fields has been relatively successfully. These signs are used to discourage smoking within 10 metres of Council’s major children’s play areas. An evaluation of the signage indicated that users of these facilities encourage others not to smoke, and that adult carers complied with the signage and the public supported the project.

 

As another example of signage use, in 2007 two primary schools approached Council regarding smoking at school gates. After seeing Council’s promotion for smoke free playgrounds they asked for assistance to reinforce the ‘no smoking’ message with parents waiting at school to pick up children. North St Marys Public School and Jamison Public School now have smoke free signs and stencils at the entrance gates. Neither of the schools introduced enforced smoking bans. The signage discouraged adults from smoking for the health benefits of their children. Feedback from Principals at that time indicated these schools no longer have issues with smoking at the school gates.

 

A funding opportunity has recently been provided to Council by the State Government as part of World No Tobacco Day, a national annual event on the 31 May to raise awareness of the health problems that tobacco use can cause. This funding could be used to assist the progress of Council’s Smoke Free Outdoor Policy including funding educational no smoking signs outside school gates for interested schools.

 

Council’s Health Strategy

Council’s Health Strategy was adopted in 2010 and provides direction to facilitate the long term health of Penrith communities. One of the objectives of the Strategy is ‘to enhance the health and wellbeing of children and families’. The corresponding action is to ‘support smoke free entries and exits at schools’. An expansion of the smoke free program and the installation of further no smoking educational signage outside interested schools gates would be consistent with this objective.

 

Expanding the Use of Educational Signage

Under the Health Strategy, council officers have been exploring the option to introduce further signage and an education campaign in consultation with interested school communities. Council has recently been offered approximately $1600 in funding from the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District as part of the World No Tobacco Day event toward signage. The estimated cost of the signs is $41.75 each including GST. Signs will not be able to be installed initially at all schools so priority will need to be given to schools with existing needs and vulnerable populations e.g. young children (primary schools), and schools in areas with high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.

 

A number of representative organisations have expressed an interest in this approach. The Department of Education and Communities (DEC) has indicated an interest and has expressed that an educational campaign would be an appropriate way to approach this issue. Catholic Education has advised that although the smoking at their gates was not an issue they are supportive. Nineteen school principals have also expressed an interest.

 

As part of the Health Strategy it is proposed to conduct an educational campaign that includes:

 

·    Voluntary participation by school communities

·    Council providing the existing template for printing signs (see attached)

·    Two signs at main gates of participating schools

·    Education through school newsletters and school communities

·    Promotion through the local media and internal publications

 

Conclusion

This report has considered the possibility of implementing a smoking ban at school entrances. While an enforcement process could possibly be implemented, an educational campaign with no smoking signage has been proven to be relatively effective in the past for children’s play areas and for two local schools. An educational and signage campaign that involves the participation and ownership of the school community is also likely to be more effective.

 

Council has recently been offered approximately $1,600 in funding from the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District as part of the World No Tobacco Day event toward signage at school entrances.

 

This report recommends the proposed education campaign to address the issue of smoking at school entrances. The campaign would be implemented in conjunction with the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District will include the installation of signs at the entrance of interested schools and will be carried out in consultation with school communities.

 

 

 

RECOMMENDATION

That:

1.     The information contained in the report on Smoking at School Entrances be received.

2.     Council support an educational campaign described in this report including the installation of signs for interested schools with funding from Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District as part of the World No Tobacco Day.

 

ATTACHMENTS/APPENDICES

There are no attachments for this report.