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Plan to bring beach and other events back down to earth.

Cottesloe balloon ban


The council that looks after Perth’s most famous beach would no longer allow helium balloons at its events under a plan floated by one of its elected officials.

At a meeting of Cottesloe council on April 26, Councillor Sandra Boulter will move that balloons be banned from Town of Cottesloe events.

“Balloons float up into the air and disappear from your thoughts, but not from the environment,” Cr Boulter reasons.

“Balloons and their string make ugly litter in even the most remote and pristine places.

“Dolphins, whales, turtles, seabirds and other animals have all been killed by balloons.”

Cr Boulter advises that even biodegradable latex balloons are a danger as they can take several months or even years to break down.

“Turtles are particularly at risk as they can confuse balloons with their jellyfish prey,” she continues.

“Mass balloon releases have already been banned by several local authorities in the UK, USA and Australia.

“Balloons can cause dangerous power outages.”

Council staff advise that applications requesting the release of balloons as a part of an event are few and it is not normally approved.

“Events with balloons that are filled with such gas as decoration for the event are more common,” the officials say.

“The intent at these events though is that the balloons be ‘taken home’ after the event, not released into the atmosphere.”

Base Cottesloe photo: Bram Souffreau, Wikimedia Commons

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... albeit on a much reduced scale.

‘If Barnett won’t build Cott shark barrier, we will’


EXCLUSIVE: A private consortium has resurrected the dead and buried idea of an environmentally-friendly shark barrier at Cottesloe Beach.

Latest plans for the mooted Cottesloe Pier project, which was first floated in 1997, for the first time float the idea of a mini-shark barrier off an extended section of the existing Cottesloe pier.

Much vaunted plans by Cottesloe council for a much bigger shark barrier were scuppered last year when Western Australian Premier, and State Member for Cottesloe, Colin Barnett, refused to fund one.

Cottesloe Pier project shark barrierBut now, Cottesloe Pier Pty Ltd, operated by an array of architects led by Lawrence Scanlan, who was involved in the refurbishment of the Indiana Tea Rooms, has applied to build a smallish shark proof barrier abutting the northern edge of its mooted restaurant and underwater observatory, as pictured, left.

Cottesloe Pier Pty Ltd claims the shark barrier would be eco-friendly and able to remain in place all year, through all weather conditions.

The swimming area the shark barrier would surround would be bound by the piles of the main structure of the restaurant and the extended public pier.

The plans are out for public comment until April 20.

Check the shark barrier and the restaurant-enabling pier out here.

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Fighting father banishes nosy council from his City Beach backyard.

SuperDad wins cubby house stoush


EXCLUSIVE: An industrious dad who hand-built a cubby for his kids then represented himself in court has banished an interventionist town council, its planning consultant, one of its elected councillors, two of his neighbours and their planning consultant from sticking their noses into his City Beach backyard.

In August 2014, revealed the Town of Cambridge had ordered Steve Hick to lower the cubby house he’d built for his children Cameron, Peter, and Sophie (pictured) and shunt it away from his property’s back boundary. was at the State Administrative Tribunal in October 2014 when the cubby hit court thanks to an appeal of the town’s order launched by Mr Hick.

Seated at the rear corner of the hearing room that day were Mr Hick’s neighbours Kate and Andrew McKerracher. Their planner-for-hire Ben Doyle told the tribunal the McKerrachers would like to join the town as participants in the appeal proceeding.

The fact the cubby existed at all came to the attention of Cambridge council after rear neighbours of Mr Hick’s complained about it. The council then requested him to lodge a retrospective planning application.

During the consultation phase for Mr Hick’s planning application, the rear neighbours lodged an objection complaining the structure’s platform was 1.2 metres above ground level, resulting in “unobstructed overlooking” into their backyard and some bedrooms.

At the tribunal’s opening hearing of the case, council development manager Steve Rodic conceded the town had no specific policy about cubby houses, but that it was a general practice to require approval for structures such as Mr Hick’s cubby which were raised off the ground.

In a twist, Mr Rodic announced that Cambridge town councillor Pauline O’Connor who had objected to a pergola also on Mr Hick’s property, but absented herself from voting when it came before council, had asked to be involved in an on-site mediation in Mr Hick’s backyard –  in her capacity as a concerned neighbour, not a town councillor.

Cambridge’s eight other elected officials, including now-ousted mayor, Simon Withers, were also invited to caucus around Mr Hick’s patio table, along with town CEO Jason Buckley.

Now, can reveal that none of the extraordinary, and largely ratepayer-funded, interest in Mr Hick’s cubby has amounted to anything.

That’s because, in a decision published yesterday, tribunal member Marie Connor allowed Mr Hick’s appeal, effectively banning the town’s bureaucrats, elected officials and his neighbours from interfering with the pictured handywork of the self-represented cubby builder ever again.

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Subiaco supermarket fined $12,000.

Farmer Jack’s done for health breach


The Farmer Jack’s supermarket in Subiaco has been fined $12,000 for a string of health and hygiene offences.

A Department of Health notification reveals that supermarket owner Dallying Pty Ltd will have to pay after City of Subiaco health inspectors discovered the supermarket had failed to meet use-by-date and food labelling standards.

Farmer Jack’s offered food for sale after its use-by-date, and was also found to have failed to keep its premises to a standard of cleanliness, and to ensure its fixtures, fittings and equipment were clean.

The offences occurred on April 1, 2015 and December 11, 2014.

Farmer Jack’s, at Crossways Shopping Centre on the corner of Rokeby Road and Bagot Road, is somewhat of a Subiaco institution.

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Advanced toddler strays along busy Stubbs Terrace.

Girl, 2, wanders from Claremont creche


A Claremont creche has been fined $9000 and its supervisor $3000 after a two-year-old girl wandered out its creche and along a road.

A State Administrative Tribunal order published online reveals that Raff Investment Holdings, which owns the Tiny Beez child care centre on Alfred Road, and centre supervisor Ana-Lara Skinner, were the parties so fined.

According to the tribunal order, a two-­year-­old girl left Tiny Beez about 10am on July 23 last year.

A passing motorist saw the little girl wandering alongside busy Stubbs Terrace.

The motorist parked her car and walked into Tiny Beez to tell staff that the girl was wandering unsupervised along the road.

Tiny Beez staff retrieved the girl with help from another member of the public.

Tribunal member David MacLean heard that the girl had been placed in a room of older children which required half the staff-to-children ratio than the younger class she would have otherwise been in. This contravened national child care regulations.

Around the time the girl went missing she was outside with a group of 21 children with one educator who could not see any other educators outside.

In mitigation, Tiny Beez and Mrs Skinner successfully argued that the girl’s mother believed her child was cognitively, physically, socially and verbally advanced for her age and had asked that the toddler be included in the class that had older children.

Photo: ‘Erduke10’, Wikimedia Commons, under Creative Commons attribution sharealike 3.0 unported licence

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Council official says 'no'.

Beehive attracts 16 objectors


A single beehive planned for a Shenton park backyard has attracted 16 objections and been recommended for refusal.

In November last year, Austin Street couple Jess and Mike Kendall asked the City of Subiaco to approve a ‘Langstroth’ beehive, as pictured, to accommodate about 400 honey bees.

The Kendalls want to locate the hive in the middle of their 15.25-metre wide, 120sqm, backyard.

However, the council’s co-ordinator of environmental health has made the startling observation that “it is not possible to contain the bees on-site and they will leave the property at times in search of pollen and water”.

“While predictions can be made on travel patterns and flying distances, it is not possible to accurately predict how far or where the bees may fly and they are capable of travelling up to five kilometres,” the co-ordinator has advised.

“However, bees also play an important environmental role particularly with regard to plant pollination.

“The city does not have a framework to assist in the management or control of activities such as bee keeping and there are valid concerns regarding the undertaking of such an activity in a densely populated inner urban area where lots sizes are generally small with consequently limited pollen supplies.”

No fewer than 16 objections were lodged against the Kendalls’ beehive.

“Submissions received … indicate that within a 500 metre radius of the property at least eight people who either live or visit residents on a regular basis have severe reactions to bee stings requiring medical attention including several who have an anaphylactic reaction and live closer to the subject site,” the co-ordinator reports.

“While the proposal for a beehive could be seen as a proactive and innovative approach to environmental sustainability, this must be balanced against the potential impact on community amenity and safety particularly given the proximity of recreation areas and residents with severe allergies.”

The five-week consultation process on the beehive also attracted 14 letters of support.

But, the recommendation is for refusal. Subiaco’s mayor and councillors will decide the beehive’s fate at a council meeting on January 19.

Some of Perth’s 29 local governments, excluding Subiaco, have by-laws that outline general conditions for keeping bee hives.

Generally, one or two hives are allowed on a lot of less than 2000sqm, provided conditions such as setback distances from lot boundaries, public places and thoroughfares are met.

The Kendalls’ application was reviewed against the requirements of several local laws with approval deemed unlikely due to the inability to meet specified setback distances.

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Sir Charles Gairdner eatery not up to minimum health standard.

Hospital cafe fined for hygiene breach


EXCLUSIVE: A cafe at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital that is advertised on a Department of Health website has been fined $24,000 for a hygiene breach and failing to keep its premises and equipment in a good state of repair.

Solquest Nominees Pty Ltd, the operator of Charlie’s Garden Coffee Lounge, was last week convicted of failing to maintain the cafe to a standard of cleanliness where there was no accumulation of food waste, dirt and grease.

The company was also convicted of failing to maintain Charlie’s and its equipment in a good state of repair.

Solquest was fined $24,000 and ordered to pay costs of $4102.30 for the offences which date back to December 11, 2014.

The charges were brought to court by the City of Nedlands, and brought to public attention today by the Department of Health which also advertises Charlie’s on one of its websites.

The cafe is on the ground floor of E Block at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

Photograph by ‘Gnangarra’, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia licence.

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New council policy bans spread of Cottesloe's best known trees.

Farewell to the Norfolk Island Pines


Cottesloe council is set to put a cap on the number of landmark Norfolk Island Pines at Perth’s best known beach.

A new tree policy drafted by council officials promotes the use of “Indigenous” vegetation, including trees, on road reserves, to extend the habitat of “Native” birds and animals.

Although native to the Australian territory of Norfolk Island, Norfolk Island Pines are far from native to Perth. Nor are the vocal rainbow lorikeets that descend on the pines in droves most afternoons.

The new policy states that: “Other than in accordance with a landscape plan, or on the foreshore, Norfolk Island Pines are only to be planted where they will replace an existing Norfolk Island Pine”.

“While the Norfolk Island Pine is part of the visual character of Cottesloe, they are not suited to all locations in the town, and may not be aesthetically appealing in every street,” the draft policy opines.

“New street trees, other than in the town centre or on the foreshore, will be Western Australian Natives, and, where there is a dominant Native street tree type in the street, any new tree will be the same species as the dominant type in the street.

“All individual street tree planting will be undertaken by the Town.

“All other planting on verges, other than a lawn, will require a submission to the Town of Cottesloe for approval.”

A town committee is slated to debate the draft policy on Tuesday night.

Photo: Cropped from one by Michael Spencer, Wikimedia Commons, under Creative Commons licence.

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... to push for compulsory training of mayors and councillors.

Official uses Scaffidi as an example


EXCLUSIVE: The human resources manager of a council in Perth’s western suburbs has invoked the example of beleaguered Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi to argue that training should be mandatory for all elected local officials.

In a report to her political masters, Town of Mosman Park HR Manager Cindy O’Dea opines: “It is often said that the people who most need professional development and specific training do not recognise that it is needed”.

“In itself this is a factor leading to problems,” Ms O’Dea continues.

“As recently as October 6 the Lord Mayor of Perth, Ms Lisa Scaffidi, is quoted as saying that when elected as Lord Mayor in 2008: ‘I was a brand new lord mayor and I was entitled to rely on the guidance offered by people far more experienced than me in terms of governance.’”

Ms O’Dea adds that: “According to sources on the internet, Ms Scaffidi had previously served for eight years as a councillor of the City of Perth”.

“This is offered only as an example that even after eight years of experience an elected member can be well served by training and development,” Ms O’Dea explains.

“In fact, the Minister for Local Government, Hon Tony Simpson said (in relation [to] Ms Scaffidi) that the issue was evidence that greater training of councillors was needed.

“He also said, ‘What we have here is a classic example of not knowing the rules, which tells me we need more training of councillors so they understand the rules of the Local Government Act.’”

Last month, Ms Scaffidi became the subject of Corruption and Crime Commission opinions of serious midsconduct over her failure to declare luxury international and domestic travel and accommodation, for she and her property developer husband, that was funded by BHP-Billiton and property development company Hawaiian.

Ms O’Dea advises that limiting training to newly elected mayors, shire presidents and councillors “may be condemning it to failure”.

“It is clear from the public record that it is not only new elected members who require development,” she advises.

“For example the dismissed council of the City of Canning had many members who could not be described as new or inexperienced.

“A casual review of the council members at (the relevant time) of Carnarvon, Cockburn, Joondalup and South Perth (all of which have had the council dismissed) will show that experienced elected members were on those councils.

“Inexperience in terms of years on the council could not have been the factor that caused the council to fail.”

In response to a WA Local Government Association discussion paper which canvasses a range of training options for elected officials, Ms O’Dea recommends that Mosman Park council support mandatory training.

WALGA has asked Mosman Park and Western Australia’s other 138 councils to respond to its discussion paper by November 13.

South Australia has been the only state to mandate the training of local elected officials.

Cropped photograph of Lisa Scaffidi by Gnangarra … under creative commons licence.

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Taj on the Swan counted among their assets.

Oswals ordered to pay $1.2 million security


Onetime Perth billionaires Pankaj and Radhika Oswal have been ordered to pay 1.2 million dollars to the Federal Court as security to cover costs of their legal appeal against tax bills.

The Oswals have been involved in a legal tussle with the Australian Taxation Office over tax assessments from February 2011.

Their appeal against the assessment relates to a capital gains bill linked to shares Pankaj Oswal held in Burrup Holdings in the 2007 financial year.

Before Federal Court judge John Nicholas in Sydney this week, the Oswals’ defence team argued a 1.2 million dollar security payment sought by the ATO was unnecessary as the couple’s assets in Australia exceeded their tax debt, an assertion Justice Nicholas rejected.

Among assets which Justice Nicholas noted the Oswals owned, subject to a mortgage, were the semi-built mansion dubbed by locals as ‘The Taj on the Swan’ at Peppermint Grove which Ms Oswal in 2011 had testified to be worth $40 million.

Another Oswal-owned house in Dalkeith, also under mortgage, was said in 2011 by Mrs Oswal to be worth $4.9 million.

Justice Nicholas noted that both houses in Perth’s leafy western suburbs were subject to mortgages and it was “not possible to say what the value of [the Oswals’ Perth-based assets] are”.

He ordered that the 1.2 million dollars be paid within 28 days as security for the ATO’s costs should the  Oswals lose their appeal.

During the hearing, lawyers for the Oswals confirmed the couple now lived in Dubai.

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Ranger enters half marathon to help beat the blues.

Running depression ragged


A City of Nedlands ranger who has lived with depression is running a half marathon in this year’s City to Surf to combat depression and raise money for the mental health charity Beyond Blue.

Ranger Daniel Sharples knew he had a problem when dramatic mood swings and uncontrollable tremors started to impact his life every single day.

He finally sought the advice of his GP, who diagnosed him with depression. The doctor prescribed anti-depressants, developed a mental health care plan and referred him to a psychologist.

Mr Sharples said that consulting his GP in the first place was the most difficult step – but the most important.

“I’ve got two kids to think about and I wanted to make sure they had a father who will be there for them and give them the love they deserve,” he said.

He realised he had been living with depression all through his adult life.

“Winston Churchill said, ‘When you’re going through hell, keep going” – that says it all for me – in running and in dealing with depression,” Mr Sharples said.

“The good news with something like depression is that, just like physical illnesses, depression and anxiety can be treated.

“The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can recover.”


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With Barnett funding unforthcoming, town CEO pulls the plug at Perth's best-known beach.

Cottesloe goes cold on shark barrier


EXCLUSIVE: Cottesloe Beach will not get its much-vaunted eco shark barrier this summer, or any time in the short to medium term, if a recommendation by the council’s boss to can the idea holds sway. can reveal that Cottesloe council CEO Mat Humfrey has recommended the mooted shark barrier be jettisoned to the undertow of history, at least for the short to medium term, because it has failed to win state government funding.

In October 2014 the council gave the green light for the shark barrier to go ahead, on the proviso the government of the State Member for Cottesloe, Colin Barnett, chimed in with some spondoolies.

The Barnett Government did not.

It recently chose instead to fund shark barriers at Joondalup and Albany.

Now, the Town of Cottesloe is faced with the decision to abandon the planned Eco shark barrier, or fund the $130,000 yellow plastic contraption itself.

After also failing to win Barnett Government support for an eco shark barrier, the much bigger City of Cockburn has pushed ahead with one of its own at Coogee Beach in Perth’s south.

Mr Humfrey’s shark barrier abandonment plan is set to be considered by a committee of his political masters on Tuesday night.

Photo: Bram Souffreau, Wikimedia Commons

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Bugs get fancy digs in Perth's inner west.

Jolimont insect hotel takes shape


The City of Subiaco today unveiled its first insect hotel, a sculpture that provides habitat for local fauna, at Mabel Talbot Reserve in Jolimont.

The hotel was engineered by Tim Delany, a student in the faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts at The University of Western Australia, who last year received a scholarship from the city to complete the insect hotel.

At the awards where Mr Delany won the insect hotel building gig, Subiaco Mayor Heather Henderson said she was amazed at the students’ ability to adapt the concept of insect habitats into an art form.

“There was such a diverse range of interpretations,” said Ms Henderson who is pictured with Mr Delany and a prototype of his insect hotel.

“Some of the designs were made of wood, some steel and others plastic.

“I was surprised to find out that many of the students are not even studying art, as they are all so talented.”

Mr Delany used natural materials such as recycled timber from the city’s tree prunings and metal collected from bulk rubbish collections throughout the year.

Insect hotels have proven to be successful habitats for plant pollinators, particularly winged insects such as bees.

The new structure has been tailor-made to suit the local environment, following testing of different prototypes during summer to determine the most effective design features.

Included in the design are materials similar to those found in natural nesting sites, and features such as holes and crevices.

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Land, sea and air search underway in blustery conditions.

Police comb City Beach for missing woman


5PM UPDATE: A land, sea and air search that took place in windy conditions at City Beach today for a West Leederville woman has been scaled down this afternoon due to weather conditions.

Police spokeswoman Ros Weatherall said the search would resume at first light tomorrow morning.

Early today, Ms Weatherall’s colleague Susan Usher said Robyn Santen, 36, was last seen on Saturday night in West Leederville.

Ms Santen’s car was found about 4pm yesterday at a car park in City Beach but is believed to have been at the car park since the early hours of Sunday morning.

Ms Usher said concerns are held for Ms Santen’s welfare.

Ms Santen is 170cm tall, with a fair complexion, of medium build and short brown hair.

Police want anyone who sees her or knows where she is asked to call 131 444 immediately.

Two water police boats, five volunteer marine rescue craft, four jet skis and two aircraft searched a 35 square nautical mile area off the shoreline of City Beach.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a strong wind warning for Perth’s local waters today.

Police and State Emergency Service personnel conducted a ground search along the beachfront from the City Beach car park.

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