Back in 2010, City of Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly opposed the construction of a new public toilet on the corner of Westgarth and Brunswick streets. He had no logical reason for this, but argued that the proposed location was a right wing conspiracy against the nearby Firefighters Credit Union office on Brunswick St.
This unfounded accusation only makes sense if you believe that public toilets are a bad thing, and that the other councillors considered this opinion to be normative and that it formed a sound basis for engaging in an unjustified attack on a small credit union housed in a nondescript high street office. What utter nonsense.
These beliefs are fundamentally flawed. Public toilets are a public amenity and are essential to public health and human dignity. If properly maintained and regularly cleaned, public toilets are a safe and much appreciated thing.
There is no evidence that the public commonly views public toilets negatively. Quite the opposite; we want more built. They are important for local residents, who don’t like having to walk down streets and laneways reeking of piss and shit. There’s lots of homeless / mentally ill / drunk people (the disenfranchised whom Jolly often claims to support and represent) wandering around Fitzroy at all hours, and some of them use the streets as a toilet. Some of them have to because of a lack of facilities.
And there is no evidence that any City of Yarra councillors had an agenda to attack a credit union by building a public toilet nearby. The accusation is hysterical and absurd.
Jolly is one of the City of Yarra councillors who have presided over a local government that has dithered over the placement and construction of public toilets for years. In 2008 Jolly voted in favour of one being built on Gertrude St, but the council rejected this proposal. In 2009 the council decided that building public toilets was simply too hard and they decided instead to outsource their provision to the private sector, a policy that was a complete failure.
At the start of 2010 they seemed to have learned from these mistakes and announced a proposed new toilet to be built on the corner of Westgarth and Brunswick streets. A mere 10 objections were received about this proposed location yet, with Jolly’s irrational and irrelevant politically biased support, the objectors (including the Firefighters Credit Union) got their way and the proposal was abandoned.
A new location on Brunswick St was proposed, on the corner of Victoria St, and with the support of readers, who I encouraged to submit approvals for the plan, this location was accepted and the toilet was built.
The next location to be considered, on the corner of Queens Parade and Michael St (in front of Baker’s Delight and the Commonwealth Bank), has been the subject of debate for nearly two years. As I argued a year ago, the Commonwealth Bank has no logical grounds for objecting to a public toilet building built on the footpath near its branch.
Last week Jolly tweeted from the City of Yarra council meeting:
A debate ensued via Twitter. Jolly repeated his belief that a union is a better kind of ratepayer than other businesses:
This is a false and misleading accusation. The proposed Westgarth location was convenient as there isn’t one nearby and logical given the wide footpath there, with plenty of space for its construction. The identity of the neighboring businesses was completely irrelevant, except to Jolly and his bizarre conspiracy theory.
On the Yarra Socialists blog Jolly ridicules the council and the Commonwealth Bank for objecting to the Queens Parade proposal: ‘According to [the City of Yarra] it’s one law for ordinary residents, another for big corporations.‘ This is complete hypocrisy and it ignores Jolly’s inconsistent history in relation to this issue.
From my point of view, the Firefighters Credit Union and the Commonwealth Bank are both financial industry institutions whose staff work, and whose customers visit, only during weekday business hours. Public toilets are most used by weekend shoppers and other people outside of business hours. Their staff will not be affected by the toilets and their customers may appreciate them given how long people often have to wait in bank queues.
It seems that Jolly is not really opposed to the values of the other councillors who have pandered to the whining from the Commonwealth Bank. He has demonstrated history supporting a business ratepayer’s views at the expense of human ratepayers’ views. To be consistent with this view, he should be endorsing the Commonwealth Bank’s irrational stupidity. Otherwise he should have remained consistent with his initial advocacy of more public toilets and supported the Westgarth St proposal.
According to his written statements, Jolly also believes that the views of local residents, who traverse local streets at all hours of the day and night, are less important than the views of union staff, who traverse the same streets only during daytime business hours. I have included images of his and my complete tweets to each other below.
Jolly simply doesn’t make sense in relation to this issue, and his bias is irrational and childish. Gloating about his actions in helping reject the Westgarth St proposal cost ratepayers lots of money in requiring further planning for the Victoria St replacement and wasted a year.
If you are annoyed by Jolly’s ridiculous and pathetic behaviour, remember it when voting in the next local government elections.
My tweets are below.
Jolly’s tweets are below.