Hello! A nice surprise of my new job was the suite of four lovely rooms at Town Hall that have traditionally been set aside for the exclusive use of the Lord Mayor. After a few months in the job it felt a bit silly having one woman rattling around in so much space, so I decided to open the Henry Hunter Room (that sits within the Lord Mayor’s suite of rooms) to the public during weekdays.
Henry Hunter was the young architect that won a design competition for Hobart’s Town Hall in 1864. The new public room is a comfortable and quiet space that we have set up as a ‘Reading Room’, with daily newspapers, children’s books and some Council documents. There is also free public wifi and public toilets.
Early visitors to the new 'Henry Hunter Reading Room' were bookshop owners Clive Tilsley (Fullers) and Zan Boag (Poet Store).
Please drop in during business hours if you'd like a quiet spot to sit, meet a friend, read or study in the city.
Hobart City Deal slow to start
On 24 February, I joined the Mayors of Hobart, Kingborough, Clarence and Glenorchy to sign the ‘Greater Hobart City Deal’. We did so with mixed feelings – on one hand it was the start of a new era of city cooperation, but on the other it’s fair to say that so far, the process and outcomes have not lived up to our expectations.
‘City Deals’ are a good idea adopted from the UK where all three levels of government agree on long-term action and funding priorities for a city.
As a result of this new deal there will now be a permanent body established that will bring the four Mayors together with State and Federal Ministers several times a year. Out of this I hope we identify more ways to collaborate.
After the local government election, the four Mayors got together and tried to make the draft deal we were given more focused on delivering better public transport and affordable housing. But it was pretty clear that the Federal Government were running their own show.
The process was secretive, with the final draft of the document provided to us on the Saturday afternoon before the signing on Sunday morning. The inclusion of a funding package for Antarctic research stations in the City Deal was added without the Mayors' knowledge or agreement.
In the spirit of collaboration we of course signed the agreement, but we have made it very clear that while the plan flags all the key issues and projects there is not enough money and detail at this stage to see projects delivered over the 10 year life of the deal.
On the positive side, it is a coherent document to guide development of Greater Hobart, and the next step is to negotiate the ‘Implementation Plan’ which will ensure the identified projects are delivered.
Capital City Mayors talk climate change
In mid-March, Hobart is hosting a meeting of the Capital City Lord Mayors group.
The aim is to discuss a range of policy issues affecting Australia’s main cities.
I'm thrilled to be the 2019 Chairperson of this network of Mayors. The group has been operating since 1957.
As part of the meeting in Hobart, we'll be hosting a public lunchtime forum that's open for everyone.
The Forum will hear from three Mayors about the inspiring climate change action being taken by Australian capital cities.
I would love to see you at the Forum – it's at Hobart Town Hall at 1.15pm on Friday 15 March (for those of you keen to go to the School Strike event at Parliament Lawns, you may like to start there at 12pm and then come to the Mayor’s Forum at 1.15pm).
Building heights and industry lobbyists
Lobbying plays a critical role in our representative democracy. The range of issues that Councils deal with every day means that hearing from affected parties can help to improve decision-making.
However, lobbying also presents dangers. There is potential for local government to be captured by special interests, and for powerful voices to dominate and skew good city planning.
In Australia, the Property Council and its state branches employ well-funded, full-time lobbyists who represent large property owners, developers and real estate interests.
Their job is to lobby for more generous regulatory settings that will deliver higher profits for their 2200 member companies across the country.
The Hobart City Council is of particular interest to the Property Council’s Tasmanian branch, because their members have more significant investments in the central Hobart area than in other locations around the state.
In recent months, Hobart City Council has been discussing the need for firmer height limits to provide certainty and protect our much-loved and economically valuable heritage character.
During that time, the Property Council of Tasmania has been our constant companion.
Read more...(this article was published in The Mercury, 2 March 2019)
Authorised by Anna Reynolds, Town Hall, Hobart.
You have received this newsletter because you requested it, we've been in touch about Council business, or your email address was on my earlier campaign mailing list. To change any details, please update your subscription preferences. If you don't wish to receive further newsletters, you can unsubscribe from this list. Thanks!