No ‘last post’ for child care: Brown

Peter Brown clutching uncollected mail at the former kindergarten in Joffre Street, Noble Park. 387906_02 Picture: GARY SISSONS

by Cam Lucadou-Wells

A long-closed kindergarten site should be revived by Greater Dandenong Council for a not-for-profit child care service, Yarraman Ward by-election candidate Peter Brown says.

The spacious ex-facility on Joffre Street, Noble Park was shut down in 2018 when the kindergarten moved to Yarraman Oaks Primary School.

Brown, a former mayor who last served as a councillor in 2019-‘20, says this move was a “cost-saving” measure by the council at the time.

He recalls a council proposal to put the site “on the market” if a future use couldn’t be found.

Brown says instead it could be an affordable, not-for-profit kindergarten or child care service provided by the council.

Potentially there could be a partnership with Chisholm Institute to tie it in as a training centre, he said.

“It’s in very good condition. You don’t need to spend money for it to be fit-for-purpose.”

As the site seemingly sits idle, Brown found the site’s letterbox crammed with uncollected mail.

Some of it was private and confidential and dating back to 2022, he says.

“Clearly no one from Council is checking the mail, which is a bad sign of neglect.”

Greater Dandenong community strengthening acting director Marcus Forster said the site is used for internal council programs.

“Council is currently assessing the future needs for kindergarten and childcare services in this area.

“The outcome of this assessment will determine the future of the site.

“We will increase visits to the site to ensure mail is regularly removed.”

Meanwhile, Brown remains opposed to the sale of Sandown racecourse with a suburb of 7500 dwellings and 16,000 residents.

However as a member of the track’s owner Melbourne Racing Club, he’d be unable to vote on the issue at Council due to a conflict of interest.

Otherwise, the former ALP member is standing as an ‘independent’ on a ‘green’ platform.

The experienced councillor made headlines after he was controversially ruled out of the 2020 council elections due to his name being deleted from the electoral roll.

“This time I got a certificate from the (council) CEO as soon as (former Yarraman Ward councillor) Eden Foster resigned to make sure I was on the roll.”

Other key issues for Brown include community safety in Hemmings Street and Hemmings Park.

Brown also backs mayor Lana Formoso’s campaign for a safe pedestrian crossing on Stud Road opposite Dandenong Stadium – a notorious ‘black spot’ where a toddler was killed in December.

A year ago, a traffic-light crossing was identified as the council’s No.1 priority for road safety projects. And has been ‘shovel ready’ for several years but been awaiting State Government funding, according to Cr Formoso.

“The council should have more clout with the local MPs because of their close associations. I can’t understand why it hasn’t happened.

“The council should throw enough money for it in the June budget and say we’ll pay for it ourselves and save the ratepayers’ lives.

“Or ask for the State Government to come to the party and pay 50 per cent.”