The battle against the fun police is on in earnest and the Labor party has announced they will lead the fight to save the Inner West’s declining live music scene.The move came as all parties ramped up their election campaigns in the prelude to September’s Leichhardt Council elections. And reviving the live music scene – an area once synonymous with the Inner West – has been framed as a prominent community issue.
Nick Felton, drummer for the up and coming band Stray Birds, is finding it hard to break into the industry while restrictions on live music venues continue. He said: “With the number of bands around, it’s difficult to get a spot on a decent night in because a lot of venues are closing down. The time restrictions on live music means that you have to cut down on set times making it difficult to demonstrate your full range.”
Leichhardt Labor Councillor, Darcy Byrne has initiated the ‘Labor to battle the fun police’ campaign to revitalise live music venues for the coming Council term. He said: “The greatest challenge we have in the inner city is that we have a vibrant music culture under threat.”
Mr Byrne used the Annandale Hotel as a case in point, with the Hotel having spent $250,000 in legal fees in its fight with Council over noise restrictions.
“I think the difficulty is Council are too often taking a legalistic approach when residents make a complaint. I just think there is a better way we can do this.
“We are going to be putting forward a policy that changes Council’s planning controls. We will enforce a good neighbour policy that will resolve disputes between neighbours and local music venues without costing ratepayers and venues hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to court all the time.”
Mr Byrne also plans, if elected, to enforce 30 minute free parking rules in high streets to boost small business. He said: “The lack of free parking for local residents is killing off local businesses.”
The Greens are currently undertaking an independent parking review to remedy the parking issue in the Leichhardt municipality. They have allocated $300,000 in the budget to implement the recommendations of the parking survey.
Mayor Rochelle Porteous believes a 30 minute free parking proposal will collapse the parking management system. Currently a 15 minute free parking rule is in place.
“The problem with a proposal like 30 minutes free parking [is it] doesn’t have research or an evidence based approach,” she said.
“The total revenue for parking meters in the municipality currently is $3.6 million. If you put 30 minutes free it would probably remove all of that revenue completely.”
Mr Byrne is also critical of the Greens’ childcare policies. He said: “We have literally the largest baby boom in Australia occurring in Leichhardt municipality.
“Approximately only one in three parents have access to childcare because there are not enough places available. In this term of Council under the Greens party, only 11 new childcare places have been
“We need urgent action now.”
Mayor Porteous disputes these claims: “In 2007 there were 13 long daycare centers in the Leichhardt Municipality providing 576 places per day,” she said.
“Since then Council has granted a further seven development applications for long daycare centres. These new services are currently offering an additional 366 places per day. Of these, 121 places are for children under two years of age.”
The Greens have also allocated $10 million for new childcare centres over the next 10 years in the budget.
Mayor Porteous proudly listed the accomplishments of her term in office. She pointed to delivering a balanced budget every year, ensuring Council became carbon neutral by the end of 2012 and offering new community festivals and music events.
Cr Vera-Ann Hannaford said the Liberal party has been conducting community workshops with local residents about prominent issues. She said: “We have been given great feedback. We have found out exactly what a lot of residents want and that’s what we are using to formulate our policies.
“We are addressing certain areas such as family and community services, planning and development, all under the theme ‘local rates for local residents’.”
Ms Hannaford is pleased to announce that 50 per cent of the 12 liberal candidates on the election ticket as well as the number one candidates are women. “We believe that there should be equal representation.
Our candidates have also been selected to reflect the municipality’s cultural diversity.”