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Docklands budget disappointment

05 Jun 2014

The City of Melbourne’s 2014-2015 draft plan and budget released last month reveals no plans for major Docklands projects in the next financial year.

While last year’s budget saw more than $12 million allocated to capital works in Docklands, this year sees just $2.06 million allocated.

The main capital works investments include $550,000 for the fit-out of the Docklands Community and Boating Hub and $1 million for the implementation of the Docklands Community and Place Plan (DCPP).

According to a council spokesperson, the DCCP funding will be used for Queens Lawn landscaping, Harbour Esplanade and park improvements, including designs for a possible play space at Western Park.

Interestingly, $1 million was also allocated in last year’s budget for the implementation of the DCPP, with the majority intended for the Queens Lawn project at the Fox Classic Car Museum, however there has been no apparent work at the site over the past year.

According to the spokesperson, funds were allocated to the project in the 2013-14 budget in anticipation of an agreed sub-lease and landscape design being completed.

The council spokesperson said the Fox Collection and council were working together on a design and details of how the project would be managed and hoped work would start once an agreement was reached.

Funds that had been allocated to the project were instead used on landscaping works at the southern entry to Docklands Park, near the new Jim Stynes Bridge.

Other capital works funding in the new budget include $150,000 on new Christmas decorations, $40,000 on Christmas decoration refurbishment, $110,000 on Christmas decoration maintenance and $212,000 on public lighting maintenance.

Apart from the capital works program, the budget also commits $820,000 towards the operating costs of the new library and $340,000 towards the Docklands winter activation program.

Fireworks will be held in Docklands every Friday night throughout July and August along with music and family entertainment.

$115,000 has been allocated to new infrastructure works at Melbourne City Marina, along with $1 million for the fit-out of the new marina facilities and waterways office and $150,000 for wharf and marina maintenance in Docklands and along the Yarra.

The City of Melbourne will also continue to fund the Melbourne Visitor Service Shuttle, including additional buses during the peak cruise ship season, committing $1.56 million.

In total, council will spend an estimated $15.9 million in Docklands over the next financial year, resulting in a surplus of about $9.5 million, according to the Docklands Income Statement.

The statement also says about $2.5 million worth of indirect costs have not been reflected in the projected expenditure, leading to an overstatement of the surplus.

The 2014-15 plan also reveals council aims to continue to attract events and people to Docklands by raising awareness of the Events Partnership Program, promoting the Melbourne Star, working with the Docklands Chamber of Commerce and Destination Docklands and extending council events to Docklands, where appropriate.

Council also aims to continue to facilitate the introduction of water transport and ferry services to Docklands, however there is no specific funding allocated to this in the budget.

When asked how this goal would be achieved without funding, a council spokesperson said the City of Melbourne and Places Victoria were continuing to plan for the introduction of water transport in Docklands.

“Water transport is an important aspect of planning for future development in Docklands and we are working with the State Government on possible service models,” the spokesperson said.

“One option being considered includes a possible ferry terminal as part of the Harbour Esplanade redevelopment, which is currently out for community consultation.”

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