Posted 18/3/06


the letchford files

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stories from the web



This started out as a fairly simply report on John's first email.  Since then, Rosemary Homewood has notified that she sent an email response back to John, and John has since responded to Rosemary.  So we've started the Letchford File.  Here's an overview of action to date:


MRRA Website Item

Letchford email 1

Homewood email

Letchford email 2


After you've read this, MRRA would just love to hear your comments.  Please, please send us an email on




Here's MRRA's Original Website Item:


Cr. John Letchford:  Is He Breaking Promises - And Hearts?

(10/3/06 - P)  MRRA is confused by the mixed messages John is sending

On the one hand, Cr. John Letchford, who claimed to be a qualified planner in his Candidate Statement last year, said in that Statement that "My focus is on... neighbourhood character protection..." That was before the election which saw John Letchford the first councillor elected in the South Ward.  On the other hand, at last Wednesday's Council Planning Committee meeting, Cr. Letchford said neighbourhood character is not to be slavishly followed before voting to approve an application to subdivide an acre lot in Romsey into 4 quarter acre lots in an otherwise 1 acre block neighbourhood.  He said the subdivision fit with the planning scheme and referred to ResCode.  He went on to say planning wasn't black and white, and needed to be interpreted.  Cr. Noel Harvey also supported the application saying the four lot subdivision would actually add to the neighbourhood character and further said small lots are needed to conserve water.  Cr. Helen Relph, who seems consistent in supporting small(er) lot development, said it was a great outcome for the applicant.  Cr. Henry Bleeck, who also supported the proposal, felt people don't look after big blocks and this leads to land degradation.  Mayor Geoff Neil almost begged his fellow Councillors to not support the application and he found support from Crs. Gyorffy, Guthrie, Connor and McGregor.  The application was refused on a 5/4 split.


Here's what MRRA said:

We thought protecting neighbourhood character was a primary requirement of ResCode.  MRRA can't see, and we suspect most of the people in Gisborne who voted for Cr. Letchford also won't be able to see, how creating 4 quarter acre lots in an ocean of acre lots delivers the "neighbourhood character protection" he promised.  MRRA is uneasy about where Cr. Letchford is coming from.  He has already said in Council chamber, in supporting subdivision of another existing residential lot in Romsey, that large lots are not sustainable. Hhmm...  Is it that John just doesn't like Romsey?  Does he in fact hold a different view than the one expressed in his Candidate Statement?   Does he not understand what the Macedon Ranges' community values?  We don't know, but we do know that larger lots are a characteristic of Macedon Ranges that residents value highly, and are a key reason why most people move here.  It will be interesting to see if Cr. Letchford applies the same 'I support small lots' principle when a similar application comes in from Gisborne.


We also note that Cr. Harvey's justification for supporting the application, that of conserving water, is similar to advice given to MRRA by Western Water in 2004: e.g. units are good because they have (almost) no gardens so use less water.  Has the thought occurred to anyone, as existing lots are carved up and units are jammed in, that those developments mean more people, which in itself means more demand on scarce water supplies - with or without gardens?  In most parts of the Shire, we already haven't got enough to go around.  As for Cr. Harvey's comment that slicing up a lot like this, in a neighbourhood like this, would add character - well, what can we say other than it seems to say it all about where Cr. Harvey is coming from.  And we bet that's not the same place most residents are coming from, or want to go to.



Here's Councillor Letchford's First Email:



NOTE:  We have provided some music to accompany your reading.  MRRA strongly suggests however that  you read these messages first, then click here for a musical background while you read them again (It may take a moment or two for the music to load).


  Music: "Love Letters" by Ketty Lester


Subject:  Hi Chris


Hi – Neighbourhood character is an interesting topic and one like yourself who lives on a subdivision should know that the neighbourhood before you came along was just fine.  But you came along none the less and destroyed the neighbourhood character. Are the comments truly reflective of MRRA or just yourself?  I wonder how slanted comments can be until people wake up?  Possibly some will fizzle and blow away?


Anytime that you want to be educated let me know as I will point you in the right direction of some academics that will clear that fuzzy head of the author of the ill informed comments on your web site.  Please pass this on to the many many members that you have and maybe one day you will invite the rising star ME along to a meeting of the faceless few.  Funny how your group will not and do not want to be publicly named.  Why are they hiding in the shadows?


John Letchford


Macedon Ranges Shire Council


Phone mobile : 0401682364   or

Phone / Facsimile: 61 3 54282916



Here's Rosemary's email:


Dear Mr. Letchford,


I am so glad you are downloading the MRRA website - we get thousands of hits every month; it keeps many people state-wide in Victoria well informed on issues of relevance in the Shire of Macedon Ranges.  We know for a fact that State politicians make it a daily occurrence to update themselves on these issues and as we approach a State election it becomes even more useful !!


I am one  of the 'faceless few' you so very rudely refer to in your message to Christine Pruneau.  I have lived in this Shire for 25 years and in particular I treasure the Neighbourhood Character of a rural Riddells Creek.  I intend to fight people like you every inch of the way - you want to destroy all that is beautiful and worth preserving. Your ill tempered and egomaniac remarks only justify the poor star ratings that you received from a VERY well informed MRRA membership prior to the last election - only preferences got you elected this time - NOT popular support, make no mistake about that!


Get some basic good manners John, and GET a LIFE outside council.


Here's Councillor Letchford's Second Email:


From: Cr John Letchford

To:  Homewood

Sent: Friday, March 17, 2006 9:33 PM

Subject: RE: Your message to MRRA members !


Rosemary – thanks for your reply from MRRA BUT as usual you and your people who briefed you to attack me, have flawed information.


As usual you people MRRA have it all wrong.


At any time that you want a qualified planners perspective – call me.  Or you can rely upon the two bob planning hacks that currently advise MRRA and presumably yourself.


Please don’t over rate the MRRA site as being a well read site…your credibility is lost when you say that. The site is only for believers…and they are limited.


The invitation still stands- if you want to be well informed, but I already know the answer to that.