Buckley Street Crossing Removal puts local business at risk

BY TESSA BAJAN
The Moonee Valley council and its residents claim popular Essendon hangout Rose Street will be destroyed by proposed level crossing removal plan, threatening traders and local business along the strip.

 

The state government plans to relocate busy Buckley street to beneath the railway line, transforming Rose street into a one way only road with no right turning.
Resultantly shoppers will have less parking options along the strip, and if coming off Buckley Street, will need to continue on until they can perform a u-turn.  An inconvenience local traders claim will lose them their customer base.

 

 

 

Local resident and business owner of popular “Benny & Me” café Ellen McFarlane is concerned about her customer base and feels that the design lacks safety. “A car trench crossing will provide no benefits to the local community. What is now a thriving area will become a danger zone most will try to avoid.”

Essendon resident and local business owner Ellen McFarlane feels very strongly about the council’s plans

The community claims that the proposal also lacks disability, cycling and pedestrian access and is a danger to pedestrians and children from nearby schools.

 

Dr John Stone, Lecturer in Transport Planning in Urban Planning Program at Melbourne University confirmed Mcfarlane’s concerns in a report that states “grade separations that involve putting railway above or below rail line can actually degrade other aspects of the physical, social and economic environment.. this can have negative impacts on immediately adjacent economic activity, that are very difficult, if not impossible, to rectify.”

The Essendon community has proposed an alternate “road over rail” option they claim is better for the community instead of the government’s plan that has been labelled a “cheap, quick fix”.

road rail separation

A comparison of the two level crossing removal ideas

 

The community took to the streets last Sunday in a public demonstration along Buckley street. The protest included appearances by opposition MP David Hodgett and Moonee Valley Mayor Andrea Surace, in which they re-affirmed their strong alliance with the community. State labour MP Danny Pearson was noticeably absent.

Rail design engineer Andrew Binns however believes the lobbyists have not put enough thought into the technical aspects of their proposed alternative. “For the road over rail plan to be successful, the gradient of the rail way line that is currently on a slight hill will need to be completely altered for a slow decline underground; an extremely costly development that would require acquisition of over ten homes.”

“This slow decline would require a trench, which are in most cases, an eyesore.”

 

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Springvale station “eyesore” trench Binn’s refers to. photo: RMIT university

 

Despite community backlash, Pearson confirmed plans are still going ahead, proclaiming “this is a done deal” to the disgust of the hall at a council meeting in Essendon.

The contract to to remove the Buckley Street Level Crossing was awarded May 7 to be completed by 2019, however the community plans to continue the fight.

 

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Post condemning Greyhound euthanasia provokes outrage on Social Media

A social media post regarding the release of documents revealing the recent death of six  greyhound puppies by a trainer has garnered the attention of many animal support groups and concern of the general public.

The post initially put up by the Barristers Animal welfare panel facebook page, claimed the puppies were put down within three weeks of ownership according to Greyhound Racing NSW’s internal records. The post condemned GR NSW for “taking no action against the man responsible because he was no longer a registered trainer” and for “not refer[ing] him to other authorities because no crime had been committed”.

 

The post has had over 160 sharers; including popular animal welfare groups Greyhound equality society, Justice for the voiceless and Gone are the dogs – speaking up for greyhounds.

 

The Barristers Animal Welfare panel is a national organisation consisting of over 100 barristers from state bars of Australia, committed to animal welfare advocacy. The chairman of BAWP is Joana Fuller whom spoke of the matter. “We cannot simply better regulate animal cruelty .. The industry should be shut down and that is immediately.” She believes the industry is full of corruption and these records are just a starting point. “I think that it’s unlikely [to be] an isolated incident when we know that 18,000 dogs are destroyed annually, and those are the records that are held by veterinarians, and obviously disposing of the dogs illegally is cheaper.”

 

The comments expressed by followers of the post were in agreement with BAWP by a vast majority, and filled with anger.

 

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commenters of initial post

 

Greyhound racing is a long running issue in Australia and has been a topic of hot debate and political turmoil, especially over the past few years (see below).

 

Brief timeline of greyhound industry

 

NSW racing has declined to comment on the post, but has released a statement regarding the documents stating “the industry has willingly committed to best practice animal welfare standards, total lifecycle management for all greyhounds and stronger regulation and is confident of a positive future.”

 

The industry relies heavily on adoption of hounds as an alternative to euthanasia. The largest agency in Victoria is known as Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP), operated by greyhound racing Victoria. Greyhounds that don’t make the grade for racing or are at the end of their racing career are trained and assessed before being matched with new owners.

 

The greyhound racing industry makes $335 million a year final

Information sourced from special commission 2009

 

Not all dogs are able to be adopted through programs such as GAP. There is an oversupply, and due to the use of live baiting to “blood” the dogs, many are rendered too dangerous for use as pets. While most figures are unavailable to public, the RSPCA estimates less than 8 per cent are rehomed.

 

Greyhound fosterer Matilda Bengtzen, regularly visits the GAP adoption shelter in Seymour, Victoria. “I love my grey. When I first got her at two years old she was emaciated and very timid, I presume from mistreatment.” She believes that the perception that greyhounds are vicious is inaccurate as most hounds she deals with are “gentle, shy and lazy creatures.”

 

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Matilda enjoying the company of her greyhound Lola. Photo taken and owned by GAP Victoria. 

 

If you are interested in adopting a greyhound, GAP has an open day this saturday.