Tyabb aerodrome copped a pasting when last week’s (10 May) council meeting dealt with funds sought by community groups via budget submissions, coming under sustained attack of the sort London’s Biggin Hill fighter base got in 1940 during the Battle of Britain.

Biggin Hill - scrambleAt issue was the Tyabb-based Peninsula Aero Club’s request for $128,000 plus GST worth of concrete on which to land emergency helicopters, plus asst. chattels. That’s $140,800 all up.

This sum dropped to $120,000 in its later budget submission. The shire appears prepared to consider $100,000 as its upper limit to the privately-owned club airstrip.  Pilots scramble at Biggin Hill, 1940.

First to draw a bead was David Lines of Tyabb, erroneously described in the agenda as “In support of” the 40-metre square helicopter landing pad at Tyabb. That he certainly was not and he said so, clearly and emphatically.

Next were the Tyabb and District Ratepayers, who came in out of the sun and vigorously strafed the application.

The aero club was represented by Mr Jack Vevers, strongly defending the need for a “suitable helicopter landing pad to support emergency services aircraft for fire fighting, law enforcement, air ambulance, search and rescue. Replenish fuels and stores, transfer victims to air ambulance”.

Biggin Hill-2The Tyabb & District Ratepayers Business & Environment Group sought “The redirection of $100,000 currently allocated to fund an additional helipad at Tyabb airfield to other more immediate life saving projects around Tyabb”. Commemorative stamp.

In a closely argued submission the group described the aero club’s claim to ratepayers’ money as “partisan, generic and open ended” The sum sought, it stated, would be “a gift … to a private club for the questionable duplication of existing infrastructure.

“We submit that this is a misuse of scarce funds, and cannot be justified in a year when the Shire is reducing capital expenditure spending by $32 million in comparison to the previous year.”

It recommended two unfunded projects more urgently requiring attention.

■ a bicycle and pedestrian crossing in Hastings where the Western Port Bay Trail crosses Frankston-Flinders Rd near where it dog-legs across the railway line.

■ provision of “slow points” on Boes Rd, Tyabb, site of serious high-speed crashes, at least one of them fatal.

The State government has repeatedly declined to fund this facility: why should the Shire?” the submission asked.   Biggin Hill: a few of the Few.

BIGGIN HILL-1This is an important and sensitive point. Councils across the state are unanimously opposed to federal and state government cost-shifting on to local government. Yet in this case Mornington Peninsula Shire is apparently ready to hand over $100,000 to a privately owned facility which, at least twice, has been refused state government funds for the work.

“… [I]t seems absurd that the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council should be considering funding this piece of private infrastructure which the [state] is clearly unwilling to do so itself,” the submission argues.

Then came the Mornington Peninsula Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association, which did not oppose spending on community safety, but said “a proper assessment should made to ensure that the expenditure is directed towards a project(s) which has the potential to provide the greatest community benefit of saving life and/or injury within the Shire.”

The provision of a heliport is not the responsibility of local government, the MPRRA stated. “It is clearly the responsibility of State Government in the same manner as the Government provides infrastructure for police, ambulance, fire brigade, hospitals, public transport, hospitals, schools, and major roads.”

Biggin Hill - Heinkel over East End 7-10-40Councillors needed to be acutely aware, it said, “that, given an opportunity, State and Federal Governments will cost-shift their responsibilities to local government and the precedent this [$100,000 to Tyabb airfield] would set for other infrastructure works in the Shire.”  Heinkel over the East End, 7 September 1940.

The submission quoted the Municipal Association of Victoria for support. The MAV said that “cost shifting from the State on to local government has been a regular focus of the MAV’s advocacy for over a decade. Ratepayers have been contributing millions of dollars annually to prop up services that should be equally funded by the State Government as original agreements intended.”

The MPRRA pointed out that in May 2013 the disused helipad at Hastings foreshore beside Pelican Park “was transformed, with a giant chessboard painted onto it and an outdoor table tennis tBiggin Hill - the Few, 75 years on, 180815able fixed to it, making this an accessible fun facility for the community.

“It is inconsistent to fund a heliport after the Council closed its nearby helipad because it was disused.”

As to the need for Tyabb airfield to become a refuelling point for emergency use, the MPRRA stated that “each Skycrane [aka Elvis firefighting helicopters] has its own support team which includes a refuelling truck and support van. Biggin Hill, 18 August 2015: veterans commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Hardest Day, when the Nazis tried to destroy the RAF. 

“These support vehicles follow the aircraft on any deployment in order to best support the Aircrane’s, and S-61’s Aero Refuellers have on call based staff around the clock to allow the aircraft to operate continually.”

To read submissions, go to link for “Section 223 Submission Committee 10 May 2017” file:

In the list that appears, click the “+” sign beside “10 May 2017 Section 223 Submission Committee”. Double-click the file marked “agenda” to download it. Open the file and scroll to page 88 for start of MPRRA submission on the emergency helipad.

A précis of Peninsula Aero Club’s submission is on page 38 of the minutes. To view the entire submission – in which PAC seeks “$128,000 + GST”, (total: $140,800), search the shire website,, for “budget 2018” and scroll down to Submission number 75. Click the file to download.

The file is perhaps instructive in the range of subjects covered in submissions. It could inspire you, devoted reader, to make a submission next year on a matter dear to you – and give you some tips on how (and how not) to frame your request.

■ Biggin Hill, 22 km south-south-east of central London, is best known for its role during the Battle of Britain in World War 2, when it was one of the principal fighter bases protecting London and south-east England from attack by enemy bombers. Over the course of the war, fighters based at Biggin Hill claimed 1400 enemy aircraft, at the cost of the lives of 453 Biggin Hill-based aircrew.

Because of its importance to the capital’s defence, the airport itself became a target. Between August 1940 and January 1941, the airfield was attacked 12 times, the worst of which wrecked workshops, stores, barracks, WAAF quarters and a hangar, killing 39 people on the ground.

■ To view more 75th anniversary pictures, go to


  1. Mr Bandicoot, I can’t find the 2017-18 budget submissions file. Can you post a link please?

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