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Mt Evelyn RAW
Residents Against Woolworths

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Today Tonight

Victory at VCAT

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People of Mount Evelyn and Australia wherever you may be,

The historic and hard fought for Victory of the Mount Evelyn Community over Woolworths announced by the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) on May 7th. 2008 has now reverberated throughout the length and breadth of Australia. From Canungra to Mullumbimby and from Thornleigh to our less fortunate, but courageous friends in Maleny ‘our story’ is now part of your story and does show clearly that this Monster can be slain.
As I write this I am made acutely aware of the numbers of Suburbs, Townships, Villages and Hamlets that are under siege by this monolithic and predatory Corporation who bulldoze their way through these places always uninvited and who will stop at nothing to transform these places where people just want to live in peace and harmony into their own selfish Monuments to Corporate Greed with their totally Inappropriate Developments without giving the slightest thought to the sustainability of those places, especially their small business sectors.

From our first day nearly six long years ago to the present, the Mount Evelyn Community led by MEEPPA who first convinced the Shire of Yarra Ranges Council and then worked tirelessly on Planning Provisions by way of a Design & Development Overlay (DDO 2) to beat this monster then set about to empower their Community by defeating a string of inappropriate development plans as well as continuing on with the DDO to strengthen the Planning Scheme. This came to fruition late last year but rather than resting on their laurels they continued on as the battle hardened veterans they are and took the fight up the steps of VCAT to meet Woolworths head on with the support from the Council’s Legal Team and those representing the local IGA Supermarket.
That they had made the Planning Scheme their blueprint and empowered themselves with the provisions of the Planning Scheme as it existed was an important exercise in Community Education and Vision. Wherever you live in this nation it is essential that you have a clear and concise understanding of the Planning Scheme that relates to your Municipality and where these provisions do not match the reality – then seek to change them to protect the amenity of where you live.

Fortune has always favoured the bold and the DDO has now saved our village. Woolworths use their own special brand of attrition and we have all experienced that at first hand. Never once did we allow ourselves to be manipulated by waiting for Developers or Woolworth’s to organise any events or meetings. We never danced to their tune but organised our own meetings and worked strictly to our own agenda at all times. Communities must be very wary of this subtle form of divide and conquer. Make knowledge your first line of defence.

The 4 Major Public Meetings that we initiated and which were all well attended kept us connected and empowered us at all times. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for attending them and making them so successful. At each stage we were making progress but the process is time consuming and of course like all other Communities across this Nation they had their own families to run, lives to live, businesses to keep going and this impacts on everything and everybody in just so many ways. Their attrition and dividing people has ALWAYS been factored in. At some of our Public Meetings Mums, Dads , Brothers or Sisters insisted that they vote with 2 or 3 hands as they wanted us to know that they were each representing a Family Unit. These numbers I hasten to add were neve taken in the final tally but they told us a lot about what families were thinking and that they wanted their ‘voice’ heard, as families, in the Final decisions.

Our Community of Mount Evelyn are very switched on to what goes on around them. They don’t always agree on everything but when they realise that something is going to ‘hurt’ or impact on their Township e.g. ‘KOPS’ (Keep Our Police Station) May 5th. 1998 they bind together and are welded into an unstoppable force that is to be reckoned with. We have now learnt the lessons of how those issues that threaten us as a group can divide and conquer us and I cannot emphasise this point enough time and time again and during that process that each and everyone know exactly where they stand – especially in this case their Local Planning Scheme.

Once again to the People of Mount Evelyn, I’m so proud to be one of the Community, of course I’m doubly proud to represent you as your Councillor but then more especially to be your Mayor. You and the people who have long worked for you as your representatives towards this day of Victory have gone far far beyond anything that could have ever been demanded or ever expected of you and have triumphed in the face of such over whelming odds and periods of darkness to create this truly historic precedent right here, right in my Home Town. Congratulations – you dared to show us you could win and you did it in style. Congratulations.

To the People of Australia from Palmers Bay to Bli Bli, from Lane Cove to Neutral Bay, and even further a field, we stand beside you – let’s show Woolworths and any other prospective Corporate Giants out there with tabs on themselves that they can (and will ) be beaten by People EmPowered – we are now here now as living proof.

Australia we are right beside you!

Cr. Tim Heenan
Mayor Shire of Yarra Ranges