Parents trash council

By Eva Garnes

Parents at the A’Beckett St Childcare Centre are fed up with rubbish that has accumulated in the street due to non-stop development.

They also say the City of Melbourne appears unable to deal with a range of issues.

“Every time we call about an issue, there is a new person who deals with the complaint,” parent Leonie Hammill told CBD News.

“The result is that the council fails to see the bigger picture, and is unable to come up with a long-term solution to the multiple issues that have surfaced,” Ms Hammill said.

“I decided to escalate the issue to CBD News because the issues with bins and trucks had expanded to a number of safety concerns, with bins blocking the emergency exits and broken glass shattered around the childcare centre,” Ms Hammill said.

Her children have attended the centre for the past eight years and, after three years of increasing problems, she has had enough.

She has contacted the City of Melbourne more than 20 times regarding cars and construction material blocking the drop-off spaces outside the centre, rubbish bins and accumulation of rubbish piles on the pavement and lack of information. “Most families are pretty understanding and, if they are given the information in advance, they can make alternative arrangements for that day,” Ms Hammill continued.

She said the council was either unable, or unwilling, to see the big picture.

Rather, she said, it typically responded to complaints in a piecemeal fashion.

“Council staff will typically confine their response to their narrow area of responsibility,” she said. “They seem to work in silos, isolated from each other.”

She has dealt with the waste department, the traffic department, the safety section and also children’s services.

Earlier this year, her frustration was so great, she collected the rubbish and dumped it in the middle of the floor at the town hall.

“After that, the rubbish was cleared regularly for a little while, but then it was back to ‘normal’ again,” she said.

Ms Hammill claims the council has refused to give any information about developments, future plans and closures of the street to the parents.

“It becomes hard, especially if you have more than one child. Often you get told that you need to park somewhere else, and then get the children and bags across to the centre. You end up being late for work,” she explained. “At least if we are told in advance, we can plan for when this occurs, and ensure thatwe get everywhere on time.”

When CBD News contacted the council, a spokesperson said they were unaware of the extent of the situation on A’Beckett St. A few days later a meeting was arranged between Ms Hammill and representatives from the various departments.  After the meeting, Ms Hammill was clear in herfeedback.

“It was great to see the council adopting a holistic view. However, it remains to be seen how it progresses from here,” she said.

“My worry is that it will continue the same way, and that people with similar problems in other areas of the city are experiencing the same problems when contacting the council.”

After the meeting, a council spokesperson said the council was “committed to keeping parents updated” and that it was “working to resolve a number of ongoing parking and waste issues in the vicinity of Melbourne City Children’s Centre on A’Beckett St”.

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