INNOVATION THE KEY
As our politicians keep spouting on about jobs ‘n’ growth and innovations, I thought that I should pass on a very good example of innovation I spotted in one of our media centres a few days ago.
This centre operates on a two storey level with the receptionist located on the ground floor and the ‘nerve centre’ of the business located on the second floor. Needless to say that running up and down stairs with documents etc., is not only tiring but time wasting so it was obvious that an innovative answer was required. The answer was very innovative and was obviously the result of advice received from our much maligned Federal Government.
The item I took in had to be transported to the second floor and the receptionist (very well trained) promptly picked up the phone and spoke briefly to someone upstairs. She then took the item and attached it to a bulldog clip that was attached to a length of string that was securely attached to the railing of the second story. Within a moment or two a senior member of the editorial staff appeared and pulled the item up to the second floor. Amazing! I am sure that we will soon see this on our TV screens as our government advertises the advantages of being innovative. Well done people!
MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE TO PREVENT THE NEGLECT OF BUILDINGS
On the night of Sunday, February 5, 2017 there was a fire in the old Phillips Cellars building on the corner of Vaughan and Hoskin Streets. And although it seems nobody was injured, and the CFA was able put the blaze out before it spread, the outcome could have been a lot worse, as vandals are often seen breaking into the property, and I wouldn’t be surprised if homeless people were squatting on the site. The building has that many potential health hazards, yet even now, so little has been done to make the property secure and safe. In the past the windows have been smashed from the inside, scattering glass all over the footpath and nature strip in Vaughan St. Sheets of corrugated iron have also been blown loose, and pose a threat to anyone walking or driving past the property. All these issues have been raised with the Council, and it seems that they can’t, or aren’t willing, to do anything to encourage the owners to secure and restore the property.
As far as I know, the property was purchased as part of the Vaughan Street Redevelopment, but a change in plans, and lack of funding, meant that the site has sat unoccupied for the last five years and has fallen into a state of disrepair. The grass areas are overgrown and littered with rubbish, the rear of the site has become a dumping ground, and part of the roof has collapsed. With SPC Factory Sales and the Vaughan Central shopping precinct literally meters away, so many people (both local and interstate) park and travel by the area. What must they think when they see the graffiti, smashed glass and boarded up windows of this building in one of our main streets?
This is taken from the Greater Shepparton City Council’s website: http://greatershepparton.com.au/council/parking-and-local-laws/dangerous-and-unsightly-land
2.2 Unsightly Land
No person who owns or occupies property shall allow or permit such property to be kept in a manner which, in the opinion of an authorised officer, is unsightly or detrimental to the general amenity of the neighbourhood, including property, which: harbours unconstrained rubbish; or contains disused excavation or waste material; or contains long or excessive vegetation including weeds, grass, undergrowth or any other vegetation.
First offence – 2 penalty units ($200),
Second or subsequent offence – 4 penalty units ($400)
Maybe the GSCC need to start enforcing this, and even making the penalties greater for commercial properties within the centre of town. The council could also look at what other councils have done to help prevent the neglect of buildings within the city. The Moreland City Council, in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne, enforce a differential rate for vacant and unoccupied land.
“The purpose of the differential rate is to encourage proper management of land and/or buildings on that land. The differential rate is targeted directly at those landowners who allow their sites to deteriorate and become unsafe and pose a risk to public safety or amenity.”
I have no idea about the legalities of property law or of local government, but here are just a couple of suggestions that could go a long way towards fixing the issues we have with vacant and run-down buildings within the Shepparton CBD.
Like with so many other derelict buildings in Shepparton, the owners need to be made accountable, and start taking responsibility for their properties. They need to be pressured to repair and develop these sites, or put them on the market for sale (not for lease!) so that someone else has the opportunity to do something with them. Shepparton doesn’t have many historic and significant buildings left, so we need to make more of an effort to look after what we have. And at the very least, the council needs to take more action in ensuring the safety of the public.