Well, here we are again! It seems like yesterday, but I am reminded that I was nearly a quarter of a century younger when I last took over as President of our Society. And the Society was nearly a quarter of a century younger too, though the issues confronting Glebe were remarkably similar. Then, as now, the price of liberty was eternal vigilance.
There is no doubt that the problems facing Glebe are driven by the same kinds of forces as they were when the Society was formed in 1969 – greed and a misplaced sense of entitlement on the part of the State Government. At least now we don’t have to face a hostile Council, although how long that will last, given the new Bill to gerrymander the voting system in favour of big business and against the interests of residents, is anybody’s guess. I imagine we will have to man the barricades on that issue again before too long.
Back in 1969, the issues that gave rise to the Society were the proliferation of hideous three-storey walk-ups in place of Victorian terraces, and the lunatic radial freeway proposals that would have cut Glebe into three without alleviating the traffic congestion they were meant to solve. In 2014 and 2015 I think the major issues we will have to confront are:
- the Bays Precinct ‘urban renewal’ spearheaded on behalf of the Government by a consortium of developers going by the name of UrbanGrowth NSW; and
- the apparent aim of the government to balance its books by selling off every public asset it can, particularly public housing, without any regard to the social upheaval it is leaving in its wake.
The Government has to be made to realise that it cannot simply pay lip service to community consultation, which should be the starting point of any rational urban planning exercise – not, as the Government appears to think, a box to be ticked after the planning has been done. For this reason, the Society is right behind the Better Planning Network, and its recently released Planning for People – A Community Charter for Good Planning in NSW. Lesley Lynch and her Bays and Foreshores Subcommittee, as well as Neil Macindoe (Planning), are driving this on the Society’s behalf, but I can see a massive effort being required by us all if reason is to prevail.
Having got that off my chest, I should perhaps introduce myself to those of our members (and there is a refreshingly large number of you) who don’t know me.
Alison and I came to Glebe in 1972, having joined the Society a year earlier at the suggestion of Alan and Andrea Robertson, two of the foundation members. We lived first in Albert St, Forest Lodge, then in Boyce St, moving to Glebe Point Rd 24 years ago. We both served on the Management Committee in various roles including Treasurer and Bulletin editor, and I was elected President in 1991. I am only the second recycled President, the other being Bernard Smith, our ‘founding father’ – a hard act to follow.
I practised as a solicitor in the City for over 40 years, retiring in 2008. Since then, I have kept busy with the Society, as a member of Rotary, and as a student and teacher at U3A courses.
We have three grownup sons, and three grandchildren, two in America and one here. Our Glebe granddaughter attends Forest Lodge Public School, where her father and uncles were also students – the start of a genuine Glebe dynasty!