(sent by email, published by permission)
Last night the 2nd December 2008 the Councillors held a debate about Newcastle CBD’s future.
A key document to that debate was a 30 page discussion document by, I believe, Brent Knowles a member of Newcastle City Councils Senior Management Team.
That document presented information that was grossly misleading and not based on facts.
The first sentence states “This discussion paper seeks to provide Council with information about the existing movement systems.”
The document provides no such information other than scant cursory comment.
There is no specific information about rail services, bus services, taxi services, hire car services, airport connection services, pedestrian movement, cycle movements, ferry services or private motor car movements.
The document made no reference to the fact that the bus service is of a very high frequency, has far reaching destinations, is free during the day and despite this carries very low passenger numbers.
The second paragraph poses the question “why review the movement system”.
This paragraph uses totally misleading information and arrives at conclusions that are totally unreasonable.
Firstly according to NCC statistics Newcastle LGA has a population of only 141,172 in 58,000 occupied households. This is 4,260 lower than the peak Newcastle population in 1971. At the current growth rate of 3.2% it will take a number of years to reach to old peak.
Secondly the CBD is basically 3 locality areas.
Change in previous 5 years
The discussion Paper by Mr Knowles indicates an additional 6,500 residents by 2033.
This would be a growth rate of over 300%. Given that the optimistic forecast for the Newcastle LGA is 31% by 2036 the population of 9566 would seem very unlikely.
It would only take 147 buses to move the entire Newcastle peninsula population (9566) predicted by Mr Knowles. With buses at 5 minute intervals as nominated by Mr Knowles the entire population could be removed and returned to the peninsula in 24 hours!
The ABS considers Newcastle as the seventh (not the sixth as quoted in the document) largest urban area with a population of 523,662 not 650,000 as quoted.
Mr Knowles claims Newcastle as the Capital City of the Hunter region. There is certainly no evidence to support this. Mr Knowles offers no supporting evidence from any of the other LGA’s. Lake Macquarie as the 9th largest LGA is about 30% larger and would certainly have solid arguments to claim the Capital Crown. Maitland with its massive growth rates likewise would have sound arguments.
I could comment further however I believe my comments thus far make my point.
In conclusion in my view there is no way any of the information contained in Mr Knowles document could be used in a submission to the Newcastle CBD Taskforce or any other body.
Submissions must be based on facts, sound statistics and rational arguments.
The funds spent by Newcastle City Council and Honeysuckle have only resulted in a population growth of 135 in the latest census period. This compares to the Islington increase of 134 and 1232 for Fletcher over the same period.