Ted McKeown, giving his President’s Report to the 47th
Ted McKeown, giving his President’s Report to the 47th

Ted McKeown’s report to the AGM:

At the conclusion of my address this time last year I expressed the hope that the year just passed would not be as busy as its predecessor. That hope was soon dashed.

In October, with the support of a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs, we mounted a highly successful exhibition at Glebe Town Hall entitled Sacrifice, Struggle and Sorrow – Glebe’s Great War 1914-1918. This entailed a lot of work and planning, and we are all indebted to the organising committee led by Neil Macindoe, as well as to the many members and others who lent documents and memorabilia to us. The eloquent responses we received from many visitors amply repaid the effort put into staging this exhibition.

Just after Christmas we received the devastating news that our long time member and Deputy Lord Mayor, Robyn Kemmis, had suddenly and unexpectedly died. This was a huge blow to all of us, but to none of us so much as to Robyn’s partner, Lynne Hutton-Williams, and we extend our heart-felt condolences to her.

In response to this sad news, a number of tributes were suggested to commemorate Robyn’s life and her outstanding contributions to our community. One of those tributes thought of by the Glebe Society (but simultaneously and coincidentally thought of by the residents’ group on the Glebe Estate, so it must have been a good idea!) was the naming of the Franklin St playground (affectionately known as “Elephant Park” after its children’s climbing frame) as the Robyn Kemmis Reserve. I am delighted to say that this proposal has been accepted in principle by the Council, and that the naming ceremony is likely to take place early next year.

The Glebe Society rests on the three pillars of Community, Environment and Heritage, and our subcommittees have again been very active in pursuing our aims. I would really like to thank every member of every subcommittee for an outstanding effort this year, competently led by the following members of the management Committee:

Bays & Foreshores: Lesley Lynch
Blue Wrens: Andrew Wood
Communications: V. Simpson-Young
Community: Janice Challinor
Environment: Jan Macindoe
Heritage: Liz Simpson-Booker
Planning: Neil Macindoe
Transport & Traffic: Murray Jewell
Jan is stepping down as convenor of the Environment subcommittee, but she has anointed her successor, Asa Wahlquist. Thank you Jan for a stellar performance, and welcome Asa to your new role. You will have a great role model and mentor in Jan.

This year we recognised that our campaign to reopen and repurpose Glebe Island Bridge deserved an interdisciplinary subcommittee of its own, since it straddled Heritage, Transport & Traffic, Bays & Foreshores, and of course Planning. Murray is convening this subcommittee while it finds its feet.

Next year, I anticipate that we will be forming another new interdisciplinary subcommittee, whose job will be to find out (no easy task) what is proposed for Glebe and Forest Lodge in relation to that extraordinary example of bungled planning, WestConnex. This is going to be a massive task, and I would like all of you to throw your weight behind our campaign. Because the planning for Stage 3 (which will impact directly on Glebe and Forest Lodge) is so amorphous and (dare I say it?) amateurish, that it is difficult to say exactly what the form of our campaign will be, but it promises to be huge.

I anticipate that we will be forming another new interdisciplinary subcommittee, whose job will be to find out (no easy task) what is proposed for Glebe and Forest Lodge in relation to that extraordinary example of bungled planning, WestConnex.
What are some of the landmarks of the past year? Many of these have been highlighted in our Bulletin which is, as I said last year, one of the best journals of its kind in Australia.

  • At the Glebe Art Show, the Society again sponsored the “Character of Glebe” prize. Unfortunately, the Glebe Art Show will not be going ahead this year because the venue at Benledi will not be available, but we look forward to supporting the organisers again in future years.
  • We supported the RSL in its campaign to have the unique War Memorial originally erected at the Rozelle Tram Sheds relocated from Leichhardt Bus Depot to its original site in the memorial garden being created by the Council at Harold Park. We hope that the War Memorial will be rededicated on 26 November 2016, exactly 100 years after its original dedication.
  • As usual, we participated in commemorative ceremonies at the Glebe War Memorial to mark Anzac Day and Remembrance Day, with inspirational speeches by our historian, Max Solling.
  • We organised and conducted a successful “Meet the Candidates” session at Glebe Town Hall prior to the Federal election in July.
  • Carole Herriman organised a number of successful and stimulating “Glebe Voices” evenings at Blackwattle Cafe (Summer venue) and Café Yuga (Winter venue).
  • Edwina Doe, assisted by Christine Bates, again organised a number of successful Thirsty Thursdays, exploring Glebe’s rich culinary offerings.
  • We supported David McIntosh in his truly amazing contribution to cultural activities in Sydney, the 26th Annual Glebe Music Festival. This year, the highlights were performances by the Czech Philharmonic Children’s Choir, brought to Australia by David and partly funded by a grant from the City of Sydney.

In addition to WestConnex, what are some of the major issues facing The Glebe Society next year?

  • The Bidura Stage 1 Development Application is due to be considered by the Land and Environment Court on 5, 6, 7 and 8 September. The Society has objected to a number of aspects of this DA, and there will no doubt be further involvement in this massive proposal. Whatever the outcome of this and any subsequent Development Applications, any development on that site will have huge negative impacts on residents in Ferry Rd and Avon St in particular, and there is also the possibility the heritage significance of the original Bidura House being substantially compromised.
  • Lesley Lynch and her Bays & Foreshores subcommittee will no doubt be busy again in trying to counter further undesirable developments in Blackwattle Bay and Rozelle Bay. The State Government seems hell bent on development at any price, and we may even have an unlikely ally in UrbanGrowth NSW, which is showing signs of being as frustrated as we are at the chaotic and ad hoc planning decisions it is forced to deal with.
  • Now that it seems clear that greyhound racing will be banned in New South Wales from 1 July next year, we will need to be ready to counter any proposal for the Wentworth Park Sporting Complex to be used for any “community space” (to quote the Premier) that is inconsistent with its dedication in perpetuity as “a park or place for public recreation”.

Finally, I would like to thank all the hard working members of the Management Committee this year. I have already singled out the convenors of the various subcommittees, but I would now like to thank:

Vice-President: Allan Hogan
Secretary: Jude Paul
Treasurer: Jane Gatwood
Events Coordinator: Judy Vergison
Minutes Secretary: Louise Yeates
‘Ordinary’ members:
Carole Herriman
Meg Wallace
Murray Jewell
Scott Calvert

At the beginning of the year, I had no Executive, no Events Coordinator and no Minutes Secretary. It was awfully lonely! Then Allan, Jude, Jane, Judy and Louise stepped up to the plate, and it was like winning the lottery. Thank you to everyone on the Management Committee for your support this year.

And thanks to all our members for your continuing membership and support of the Society.