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Anti-sky rail campaigners have been given $10,000 by Stonnington Council to fight state government plans for a rail bridge over Toorak Rd.
Councillors were split about the decision to give fledgling group Kooyong Underground a community grant to help it campaign for a rail under road option when the level crossing is removed.
The group had asked the council for $20,000 but councillors voted 5:3 in favour of giving them half of that.
Some councillors raised concerns during last night’s heated debate about giving ratepayers’ money to a political campaign.
Marnie Rowe, co-founder of Kooyong Underground.Cr Glen Atwell said he was not sure setting up a “war chest” for political advocacy was an appropriate use of grants funding.
Cr Atwell said the group’s plan to spend the money on community awareness and advocacy was a job already undertaken by North Ward councillors and council officers.
Concerns about potential political fallout were raised by Cr Judy Hindle.
“We are not the state government’s favourite council and we are going to have to work with them if this goes ahead to get a really good outcome … I think it would be a bad move politically,” she said.
But Cr Matthew Koche said the community had been “railroaded” by Daniel Andrews’ announcement in February for sky rail over Toorak Rd, so the funds were “urgent”.
“This is an under-trodden, stood over, damaged group in the community … they need council support and they don’t have anyone else to turn to,” Cr Koche said.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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