Communication, better performance, Trentham

November 16th, 2020Communication, better performance, Trentham

With six of the seven councillors recently elected to the Hepburn Shire, being new to the game, a sense of optimism and hope exists for more positive interactions between community and council. This weekly series by Sandy Scheltema will explore the new councillors' hopes and wishes for the shire.

NEWLY elected to Coliban Ward is Brian Hood. Councillor-elect Hood is one of four new councillors who were supported by lobby group Community Voice after agreeing to its charter calling for proper consultation with community.
Regarding Community Voice, councillor-elect Hood said he agreed with its charter which aligned with his values and approach. “CV is a group of active community members and four of the seven councillors agreed to their community charter which calls for proper consultation between community and council before making decisions.
“The only effect it will have on me and how I vote is in ensuring there has been genuine communication with the community. We will all be voting as individuals.

“My aim is to make a contribution to the community, to work for them, to make our area a better place to live and work. Under the Local Government Act my job is to represent the community and that makes it incumbent upon me to listen to people.
“My job is to understand what the majority of people want; I’m their voice, I need to let council know what they need. Local government is grassroots democracy at its most meaningful level – the provision of important services and infrastructure – is there a library, good roads, value for rates, pre-schools etc? Listening is key as is making sensible financial decisions in the best interests of the community.
“I will act on behalf of our whole diverse community. I’m aware, through the community satisfaction survey, that the community felt council was failing. With newly-elected councillors I hope that people are encouraged. They should expect that council will perform much better.
“There are specific infrastructure projects I’d like to see completed. The Trentham Community Centre needs to be completed in a way that caters for the community’s current and future needs, and the redevelopment of Trentham Sportsground – good sports facilities can bind our community together.
“I want to see council’s culture and attitude towards people change. In the next four years I’d like to see the community satisfaction survey results improve significantly (and) that the community feels well served by council and is getting value for the substantial rates we pay.
“I know that Coliban Ward hasn’t been getting its fair share of council resources and that’s a trend that must be addressed urgently.
“Moving forward from the pandemic, one of the most tangible things that council can do is listen to and support local business. How can we help them get back on their feet? Away from business, I think council needs to keep its fingers on the pulse to assess the health and wellbeing of the community. We need to interact with and listen to community groups and organisations to understand how council can most effectively meet the needs of the community.
“Research has shown there is a need for social and affordable housing in our shire. Council has committed to developing a social housing policy. We need to explore how we can address this issue shire-wide.
“I’d like to think something positive will come out of the COVID experience. When times were tough, people supported each other. There’s an even greater feeling of community. Council needs to harness that. It’s as though we have collectively pressed the reset button…reassessed what is important. If the community is even more connected because of COVID let’s use that new-found energy to move forward.
“This new group of councillors is diverse, younger, with four women, and hopefully we’ll operate as a team for the benefit of our wonderful community.”

Words & image: Sandy Scheltema

*A ceremony to conduct the swearing in of Hepburn Shire Councillors will be held on Thursday, November 19. A statutory meeting of Hepburn Shire Council will be held on Tuesday, November 24 to elect the mayor and deputy mayor and appoint councillor delegates to committees. The new council will hold its first meeting on Tuesday, December 1 from 6pm. Both meetings will be live-streamed on council’s Facebook page.

Opinion: Kyle’s Rant – what have we learnt from the pandemic? Page 21

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