Newcastle wins second smart city gong

City of Newcastle’s great smart city strides were recognized again Thursday night at a national event highlighting the latest technologies being deployed across Australia’s building, transport and utilities industries.

Newcastle was named joint winner of the headline Smart City of the Year – Metropolitan prize along with Adelaide’s City of Prospect at the Smart Cities Awards 2019 in Melbourne.

Presented during the Smart Cities 2019 Conference, the award confirmed Newcastle had moved ahead of other local governments, including finalists Randwick, Townsville and Lake Macquarie city councils, as an advanced and ambitious smart city.

Nathaniel-Bavinton-with-Smart-City-awar-shrunkd.jpg“This award recognises our commitment to planning for the future and engaging widely with the Hunter’s tech minds as part of the Smart City Strategy, adopted by Council in 2017, and the extent of our smart city development,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“Whether investing in energy-efficient solar projects or rolling out electric-vehicle charging stations and bike-sharing initiatives, we’re leading the way when it comes to investment in and uptake of technology.

“This includes the roll-out of free Wi-Fi and low-power wide area networks that will link sensors and integrated technology to provide detailed real-time data to improve ease of access, efficiency and liveability for residents, businesses and tourists.

“It’s also important to move beyond the installation of technology alone, to also engage with the community around the future city. This is what we’ve seen with our catapult project working with innovative startups, and workshops and events aimed at ensuring our smart city is for everyone, such as the inaugural Humble Lecturebeing delivered Friday at our City Library.

“This is an exciting time for our City, and I want to pay tribute and extend a big thank you to the great achievements of our Smart City team.”

The latest gong follows the City’s win of last year’s Smart Cities Strategy Award, which recognised the the Smart City Strategy 2017-2021 at the Smart Cities Council Australia and New Zealand’s inaugural Smart City Week.

For more information on the Smart Cities Conference and Awards 2019, visit https://smart-cities.com.au/ or to view the Smart City Strategy 2017-2021, visit  http://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/getattachment/Business/Smart-City/smart-city/2752_Smart-City-Strategy-FINAL-WEB-indexed.pdf.aspx?lang=en-AU.

Caption: City of Newcastle Smart City Coordinator Nathaniel Bavinton with the award at last night’s presentation.

More than $100,000 in stolen property found in storage unit – Warners Bay

A large amount of stolen property has been located inside a Lake Macquarie storage unit.

About 12.30pm yesterday (Thursday 30 May 2019), police from Lake Macquarie Target Action Group executed a search warrant of a storage unit on Macquarie Road, Warners Bay.

During the search, officers seized more than 60 items believed to be stolen goods.

Some of the property included a motorcycle, mountain bikes, construction tools, tablet devices, mobile phones, and women’s fashion accessories.

Police estimate the total value of items seized to be in excess of $100,000.

An investigation has been launched, no arrests have been made.

Police are now hoping to locate the owners of the stolen property.

Anyone with information can contact Belmont Police Station on (02) 4922 8899 or call Crime Stoppers.

RAIL NERVE CENTRE OFFICIALLY OPEN

More than 1.4 million train trips taken in Sydney every day will be safer and more reliable, including faster recovery from unplanned disruptions, with the opening of Australia’s first purpose-built rail operation centre in Alexandria today.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian joined Minister for Transport Andrew Constance to officially open the $296 million Sydney Trains Rail Operations Centre.

“The Rail Operations Centre begins a new era of rail in Sydney and will set new standards across the country,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Sydney has one of the most complex rail networks in the world, and the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has delivered a new Rail Operations Centre to ensure the best possible service for commuters.”

Mr Constance said the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government continues to invest in infrastructure crucial for keeping people moving.

“Its massive display board is 33 metres long, bigger than that used by NASA’s Mission Control Centre and can track where every train is running at any given time across the Sydney Trains network,” Mr Constance said.

“At similar facilities in Hong Kong and Tokyo, all critical operation teams are positioned in one location, which means better` co-ordination and response to critical incidents on the network.”

Sydney Trains Chief Executive Howard Collins said more than 660 employees will be based at ROC and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the final employees moving in over the next few months.

“We have dedicated teams of engineers, train controllers, rail technicians, communication teams and security personnel all working together to keep our customers moving,” Mr Collins said.

Events, projects clear winners under new BIA model

As much as $900,000 will soon be offered to community-minded organisations and groups to activate the CBD and business districts of Hamilton, Mayfield and Wallsend, following a decision of the City of Newcastle’s elected Council last night.

Under a new scheme designed to increase investment in projects to benefit business and improve accountability, Council decided that local business improvement associations (BIAs), which previously received more than $1.3 million annually from a special rate paid by some commercial property owners, will be offered agreements that cap their funding at $100,000.

The Council also voted to ban special rates from being used by BIAs on employees and administration, stipulating that funds should go towards events and projects that activate the business areas.

The Council also agreed to terminate an existing funding agreement with the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce in response to a confidential report from the City of Newcastle CEO regarding breaches of the funding deed.

“I have today written to the Chamber President Nathan Errington outlining to him the significant breaches that provide me grounds to immediately terminate their funding,” Mr Bath said.

“Mr Errington is aware of the numerous allegations that have been put to him and another director over the past few months. It is a decision for him whether he wishes to make these breaches public.”

Council also voted to encourage the formation of a new BIA in the CBD following an independent investigation last year that confirmed Newcastle Now had committed multiple breaches of its funding agreement.

“Newcastle Now received $844,111.80 from ratepayers for the year 2016/17,” Mr Bath noted. “They responded by incurring a wages and salaries bill of $423,000 for a small number of employees.

“Their own profit and loss statement shows that over the course of the full 12 months, they invested just $5,539.88 in the East End on placemaking.

“The Civic precinct received just $11,845 in investment on activities and events, while Newcastle West, which has over the past two years been developing into the City’s new CBD, received just $326.82 on placemaking.

“In a year in which traders in the Mall and along Hunter Street were gearing up for light rail construction and Watt Street and Shortland Esplanade were closed for renewal works, Newcastle Now managed to spend more money on rent than placemaking in the Civic and East and West End precincts.

“Newcastle Now’s loud protests during the past few months has now been exposed as nothing but a distraction from their own shameful spending performance.

“Rather than profusely apologise for their repeated breaches of the funding agreement, they have led a campaign in partnership with the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce against Council’s determination to bring accountability and transparency to special rate funding.

“Events such as Beaumont Street Carnivale will continue. I have no doubt that when a BIA is formed to secure events for Hamilton, that festivals such as Beaumont Street Carnivale will be the No.1 priority to ensure it remains funded.

“I would like to make clear that one BIA held its head high throughout the review of the BIAs. That BIA was Wallsend Town Village, which took the time to understand the review and new funding model.

“Doing this allowed them to understand that under the new model, more money and therefore more events will be available for Wallsend,” Mr Bath said.

Tenders for a new shared resource to manage the administration responsibilities of the BIAs closed Tuesday. A joint Support Officer was a suggestion of the BIAs last November as each organisation is paying consultants to manage identical responsibilities such as preparing business plans and acquittal reports.

Council looks forward to announcing in June the organisation that will ensure the spending of special rates money is transparent and invested in events and projects that promote the business areas of the CBD, Hamilton, Mayfield and Wallsend.

City to honour Humble librarian in annual address

An annual lecture will be launched by Newcastle Libraries this week to remember the life of a devoted librarian and public servant who recently lost her battle with cancer.

The inaugural Humble Lecture, named in honour of late Newcastle librarian Jennie Humble, will focus on digital innovation and other Smart City topics at City Hall on Friday from 2pm to 4pm.

Making Sci-Fi Our Reality will be the theme of the inaugural lecture delivered by keynote speaker Shara Evans, is a globally acknowledged keynote speaker and widely regarded as one of the world’s Top Female Futurists on emerging technologies, cyber security and digital privacy.

Sharainside.jpgWith a background in engineering, Shara is well known for helping organisations anticipate the impacts of technology on customers, the community and society.

Members of Newcastle’s Smart City team will also offer updates on what’s happening within the ambitious program to modernise the city.

City Manager of Libraries and Learning Suzie Gately said the session would stimulate and entertain people in the same way Jennie’s work ethic and warm personality did.

“Jennie was a massive science fiction reader who came to her dream career of librarian at Newcastle Libraries in the Digital Services team,” Gately said.  “She shaped our libraries’ digital engagement with our loyal membership and wider community via our website, social media channels and digital library service design.

“This is a great opportunity to remember her and use her sudden passing to positively promote the wonderful work we’re undertaking in digital innovation in order to ensure that we meet the digital inclusion objectives of the library service alongside our Smart City objectives.

“Aged just 40, Jennie left a massive hole in our hearts when she died late last year, and this is a fantastic way to pay tribute to the work she did.”

Ms Gately said the City was already exploring themes for future Humble Lectures that tie in closely with the City’s recently adopted four-year Library Strategy.

Left: Shara Evans

“As a way of furthering Jennie’s good work and our own objectives outlined in the 2019-2023 Library Strategy, we will aim to expand on tomorrow’s lecture by exploring future themes such as how to harness big data to improve people’s lives, and explore the role that libraries can play in navigating enormous changes in technology,” she said.

Bookings are essential for the free lecture, which will become an annual event on the City’s calendar alongside National Library and Information Week.

Please visit newcastle.nsw.gov.au/library/whats-on/events for more.

Police investigate $150,000 in vehicle damage during Lambton break & enter

Newcastle City Police Target Action Group have released images and CCTV footage as they continue to investigate a break and enter and malicious damage incident from earlier this year.

Sometime between 10.30pm (Saturday 23 March 2019) and 4.30am (Monday 25 March 2019), an unknown number of people entered a smash repairs business on Griffiths Road, Lambton.

Several vehicles were targeted with smashed windows, dented panels and paint spread throughout the vehicle’s interiors.

Investigators estimate the total damage cost to be in excess of $150,000.

Officers from Newcastle City Police District Target Action Group were contacted and commenced investigations through Strike Force Nanes.

Detectives have now released images and CCTV footage of a man who they believe can assist with their inquiries.

Police believe more than one person may be involved in the incident.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Waratah Police Station directly on (02) 4926 6599 or to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Police warn of phone scam – Newcastle

Newcastle Police are issuing a warning for members of the public to be wary of potential phone scammers, who attempt to coax people into handing over their personal and financial details.

Officers from Newcastle City Police District have received reports from people who have received phone calls from someone claiming to represent either, NSW Police Force, or the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

The caller claims to be from the ATO and tells the person that they have an outstanding bill or debt that must be paid, or a warrant will be issued for their arrest.

The number displayed on the caller identification is that of the local police station, and it is unclear how the scammers are utilising the actual number.

Police are warning members of the public to be wary of any requests for personal details or payments made over the phone and are urging them not to give any personal details or to transfer any money to people over the phone.

Community members are reminded that the Australian Taxation Office will never:

• threaten you with immediate arrest

• ask you to pay money to receive a refund or payment from us

• ask you to pay a debt via iTunes vouchers, or pre-paid credit card or store gift cards

• ask you to provide personal information, such as your tax file number (TFN) or credit card number, via email or SMS

• ask you to pay money into a personal bank account

• direct you to download files from the internet, or open attachments in unsolicited emails.

Further information can be found by clicking on the following link.

https://www.ato.gov.au/general/online-services/identity-security/verify-or-report-a-scam/

Furthermore, the following advice on how to protect yourself is provided by SCAMWATCH

Protect yourself:

• If you receive a phone call out of the blue from someone claiming to be a representative of Telstra and their call relates to a problem with your internet connection, just hang up.

• If you have doubts about the identity of any caller who claims to represent a business, organisation or government department, contact the body directly. Don’t rely on contact details provided by the person – find them through an independent source such as a phone book or online search.

• Remember that you can still receive scam calls even if you have a private number or have listed your number on the Australian Government’s Do Not Call Register (link is external). Scammers can obtain your number fraudulently or from anywhere it has been publicly listed such as in a phone book.

• Don’t let scammers press your buttons – scammers use detailed scripts to convince you that they’re the real deal and create a high-pressure situation to make a decision on the spot.

• Always keep your computer security up to date with anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a good firewall. Only buy computer and anti-virus software from a reputable source.

• Never give your personal, credit card or online account details over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source.

• Never give a stranger remote access to your computer, even if they claim to be from a reputable business.

• If you think your computer’s security has been compromised, use your security software to run a virus check. If you still have doubts, contact your anti-virus software provider or a computer specialist.

• If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

Report:

• If you have lost money as a result of this type of scam, please report the matter to your local Police Station.

• You can also report scams to the ACCC via SCAMWATCH or report a scam page or by calling 1300 795 995.

Council update Tuesday 28 May 2019

Following is a summary of the Ordinary Council Meeting for Tuesday 28 May 2019. NB: it is not a full record of resolutions.

Lord Mayoral Minutes

Hunter Street Mall Rate Relief from development construction

A Lord Mayoral Minute was supported to implement a rate assistance plan to help local small and medium businesses experiencing financial pressure from ongoing development construction in Hunter Street Mall and Newcastle East.

Lower Hunter Freight Corridor Prioritisation

Another Lord Mayoral Minute was supported to write to the State Government urging it to expedite preservation of the Lower Hunter Freight corridor after its future was made uncertain by the approval of a motorsport park at Wakefield by the Hunter and Central Coast Planning Panel.

Light Up Newcastle Street Trees Initiative

A Lord Mayoral Minute to support the installation of LED bud lighting in street trees in businesses and local centres to create more attractive, safe and exciting streetscapes was supported.

Federal Election Results

A fourth Lord Mayoral Minute to commit to continued collaboration with the newly re-elected Federal Government and Federal Labor opposition, and congratulate four returned local Hunter members, was supported.

Ordinary Business

Create a new heritage item for the former Civic Railway Station, Newcastle. Endorse amendment to the Newcastle LEP 2012

Council endorsed a planning proposal to begin the process to maintain the former Civic Railway Station as a heritage item of local significance once its ownership transfers to City of Newcastle later this year.

Proposed road closure and sale of part of Hill Street, Jesmond, and request for reduction of fees

Council unanimously resolved to gift a parcel of land adjacent to Zara’s House refugee centre in recognition of the critical role it plays in providing support services to the migrant community.

Exhibition of the draft Fern Bay and North Stockton Strategy

Council deferred to exhibit the Draft Fern Bay and North Stockton Strategy, pending a workshop between the report authors and councillors to better understand the detail of the plan. An invitation will also be extended to Port Stephens councillors to attend the workshop.

March quarterly budget review

Council received the March Quarterly Budget review statement

Endorsement of March quarterly performance of our budget (2018-2022 delivery program)

Council voted to receive the March Quarterly Performance on the 2018-2022 Delivery Program

Executive monthly performance report

Council received the monthly performance report for April 2019

Review of business improvement areas in Newcastle implementation report – consideration of pubic submissions

Council voted to change the scheme used to invest the $1.35 million raised annually via special benefit rates, which are special rates paid by some commercial property owners in the CBD, Hamilton, Wallsend and Mayfield business districts.

Council representation at the United Nations High Leave Political Forum July 2019

Council voted to support an amended motion to select an elected representative to attend the United Nations’ High-Level Political forum in New York.

Notice of Motions

Offshore mining and supporting the fight for the Bight

Councillors supported an amended Notice of Motion to re-affirm opposition to offshore exploration and mining, due to unacceptable environmental impacts and negative economic effects on fishing, and advocate strongly against them.

Climate emergency declaration 

An amended NOM acknowledging that we are in a state of emergency that requires urgent action by all levels of government, was supported.

City welcome-sign upgrades

An NOM to update the signage at the City’s entry points to provide a more modern and dynamic welcome via a design competition, and by incorporating smart city elements in signage, was supported.

Tighes Hill Community needs assessment

Another NOM to conduct a needs assessment to allocate funds from the sale of the Tighes Hill School of Arts Building, as part of the community engagement and consultation for the development of the Local Strategic Planning Statement, was supported.

Man charged following two-car crash and attempted car theft – Salt Ash

A man has been arrested and charged following a two-car collision and attempted car theft in the Hunter region.

About 7.30am yesterday (Monday 27 May 2019), a Suzuki Swift and a Toyota Yaris were travelling in opposite directions on Nelson Bay Road, Salt Ash, when the vehicles collided.

A member of the public stopped to assist the occupants of the Suzuki Swift, a male driver and two female passengers.

It is alleged the driver of the Swift approached the car belonging to the man assisting, and attempted to leave in it.

The man was able to retrieve his keys, before the other man fled the scene into nearby bushland on foot.

Police attended and searched for the man, however, he was unable to be located.

About 8.10am today (Tuesday 28 May 2019), officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District stopped a taxi travelling on Richardson Road, Raymond Terrace and spoke with a 27-year-old man.

He was arrested and taken to Raymond Terrace Police Station.

The 27-year-old Windale man was charged with nine offences, including negligent driving, two counts of drive whilst disqualified and take and drive conveyance without consent of owner.

He was refused bail in Raymond Terrace Local Court today (Tuesday 28 May 2019) to reappear at the same court on Tuesday 11 June 2019.

New playground for Wallsend

A group of primary school students from Wallsend had special permission to test drive the suburb’s new playground.

Wallsend South Public School’s year-six leadership group were joined by Newcastle’s Lord Mayor as they scaled nets, flashed down slides and swung on revamped swings at the rejuvenated Cressington Way playground.

Cressingtoninside1.jpgThe Lord Mayor with Amber Hunt, 3, and year six students from Wallsend South Public School 

Today’s opening takes the total number of playgrounds replaced in the past four years to 14 across 11 different suburbs and more than $5 million worth of fun new facilities for the community.

“I’m delighted to open this wonderful new $150,000 playground,” the Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

Cressingtoninside5.jpg
3784-Playground-Upgrade-Map-inside.jpgA snapshot of suburbs across the Newcastle LGA which have received upgraded playgrounds

“The timber and steel-structured playground, which includes a tepee tower with stainless steel slide and a shop counter, among other great aspects to exercise little bodies and develop young minds, was built as part of the City’s playground replacement program.

“Under this annual renewal scheme, the City’s Parks and Projects teams completely overhaul old, weathered equipment, replacing them with more modern materials that meet ever-rising standards and service expectations.”

Cressingtoninside2.jpgElijah Maltby, 2, enjoying all there is to offer at Cressington Way playground

Cressingtoninside8-(1).jpgCressingtoninside3.jpgAlex Maltby, 4, enjoying the playground’s teepee                               Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes with three-year-old Amber Hunt

Cr Nelmes said this spoke to the City’s commitment to upgrading community assets as a core component of its annual capital works program.

“We’ve also just recently celebrated the opening of the South Stockton Active Hub along the Stockton foreshore, and an adventure playground at Richley Reserve as a part our ongoing commitment to make Blackbutt Reserve one of the Hunter’s premier attractions.”

For further information, please visit the City of Newcastle’s Playground Replacement Program page here.