Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Starting the clock on Richardson

In the absence of a response from Richard Wynne to my April email detailing questions on the Roberts Street Northcote public housing redevelopment, I wrote to Northcote MP Fiona Richardson last Thursday. I asked Richardson for help in prompting Wynne's response, and for information on the murky advisory and consultation processes for the relocation of the current Roberts Street residents to allow redevelopment of the site.

In the email I detailed my concerns that the current arrangements were not transparent, and that decisions risked being rushed in a manner detrimental to a group of public housing tenants whose disadvantage prejudiced their ability to advocate on their own behalf. I noted that it was therefore vitally important that the residents be collectively represented by independent community agencies with a strong interest in their continuing welfare. I remain concerned that the approach being adopted with residents is one of divide and conquer rather than helping them focus on their needs through the help of sympathetic, and independent, advocates.

Let's start the clock on our local member, and hope her response time is a bit better than the minister for housing. What consultation is planned, and how will the needs of the current residents be kept at the centre of the process to minimise the human cost of relocation? And just what are the government's plans for the Roberts Street site?

There's more required from our local MP than the offer of polite letters to government departments and ministers. Let's have a clear process with a genuine say for residents and the community, and maybe even some uncomfortable but necessary advocacy from our local MP.

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Comments are most welcome on any of the posts at Northcote Independent. I encourage feedback - positive or negative. Feel free to disagree, but remember that posts are moderated to ensure they are on the topic and in the spirit of open debate, as outlined in my editorial policy.