Wheelers Hill residents concerned by worsening congestion on Jells Road

WHEELERS Hill residents have expressed concern over worsening congestion on their main route of travel, Jells Road, following ongoing refurbishment of the driveway into the local Caulfield Grammar School, which accommodates over 1500 students and staff.

Local resident Heather Stavely said the congestion was “very frustrating” when trying to travel to work, “especially at peak times- there’s just so much traffic”. A council report found Jells Road experienced periods of up to ten minutes of stationary traffic, primarily due to “internal queuing” at Caulfield Grammar. The improvement of the school’s driveway by adding new lanes in and out of the school, and construction of new pick-up and drop-off facilities, aims to alleviate this.

Mrs Stavely said she supports these improvements as the parent of a Caulfield student, but does not believe it will solve the congestion issue. “The new driveway will solve the problem within Caulfield, but not the traffic on Jells Road itself,” she said. “Caulfield are making a lot of progress, but it’s not going to solve the problem.”

Her husband, Alan Stavely, said “more drastic” changes are needed at council level for congestion to improve. “You’d need to change the sequence of the lights, even widen the turnoff at the intersection,” he said.

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Heather and Alan Stavely, two of the concerned and affected residents, pictured in front of the construction work at Caulfield Grammar School.

Caulfield Grammar’s Head of Wheelers Hill Campus Paul Runting said the school was aware of these concerns, and has worked to relieve them. “Impact on Jells Road has been a constant source of concern and complaint from the local community,” he said. “We have attempted a holistic plan so that we do not elongate the disruptive process.” He said further steps like “truck and noise curfews” had been implemented.

Monash Council noted 33 objections were received from neighbours when approving the construction, with key issues including “congestion” and “noise and amenity impact” on neighbouring homes.  “The whole area’s affected,” Mrs Stavely said. “Not just noise; the whole house shakes sometimes.” Mr Stavely agreed. “What’s worse is the dust,” he said. “Everything’s covered in dust.”

Mr Runting said the key issues raised in the objections had been “discussed” and “dealt with”. He said, “The school has been working really closely with neighbours in regard to any noise or other impacts on their properties as these works are undertaken.” These efforts included dilapidation reports completed with neighbours so construction company Civilex could “monitor any impact on neighbouring houses”, he said. Civilex says the project will indeed “address issues with congestion”.

“The long term benefits will be seen immediately,” Mr Runting said, hopeful issues that have “endured over twenty years” may be resolved. “The school are looking forward to providing the community with better parking, traffic flow and amenities,” he said.

Mr Stavely is “hopeful but unconvinced” the new driveway will yield at least some benefit to traffic. “At least the noise and shaking will go away,” Mrs Stavely said. “We just hope it’s worth it.”

The construction is expected for completion by January 2017.

Community calls for greater action against puppy farms than “flashy legislation” can offer

Despite new legislation from the Andrews Government, Victorian pet owners worry that still “nowhere near enough” is being done about puppy farming, with such legislation scarcely being enforced “where it actually matters.”

Every four minutes a dog is killed in an Australian pound, commonly leftover from litters bred “back to back” in puppy farms. In May 2015, Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford outlined a detailed plan to end puppy farming, following a $5 million grant from the Andrews Government, including breeding restrictions, and a devoted RSPCA Task Force against farming. Yet these statistics persist today.

Joanne Thomas, a passionate opponent of puppy farming, argues this is largely due to an inability- or unwillingness- for authorities to act, with some Councils deeming the issue “too expensive” to combat, and others neglecting to inspect breeding factories at all.  “The authorities need to do a lot more,” she says. “The RSPCA still have nowhere near enough power. They need many, many more resources.” A task force was recently established, but its ability to make meaningful change is limited, with most farms operating secretly, often nestled within legal loopholes.

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Joanne with Molly, who was rescued after breeding in a puppy farm for five years.

RSPCA Welfare Policy Manager Mhairi Roberts explains that legislation is “important as a starting base,” but enforcing it proves “very difficult,” with the legal system lacking an “effective framework in place to regulate it.”

Furthermore, even this limited legislation is only enforceable in Victoria. “What a lot of farmers do is buy properties on other states’ borders and then sell from there into Victoria,” Thomas clarifies. “And no one can do anything.”

However, legislation only provides the groundwork with which to combat puppy farming; the greatest power for change may rest with the community itself. “The public definitely cause the most meaningful change,” explains Thomas. “It’s the public which either give these farms business, or knocks them out of it.”

Roberts concurs. “Really, the only reason farms exist is because there is a demand. If the general public was educated, these institutions would cease to exist.”