The Beagle Editor, We read with interest of the recent events around the standing down of one of your councillors from the LGNSW Board. It is of ongoing interest to learn of all the Region of Councils and State organisations that Eurobodalla is a member of wondering at what cost that presents to Eurobodalla residents and what benefits if any are returned and how those benefits are measured. Your southern readers might be interested in our latest media release: on delusions of grandeur …
The Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association (BVSRRA) is concerned at a number of comments attributed to Bega Valley Shire Council’s (BVSC) newly re-appointed general manager, Leanne Barnes, in the May 29th, 2018 edition of Council News.
Amongst other things, Ms Barnes is quoted as saying:
"Our Council is playing a leadership role in the newly proclaimed joint organisation and in delivering outcomes from high level State strategies in transport, freight, economic development, waste, skills development, water and sewer and smart cities, as well as new ways to improve business."
Based on her reported comments, the BVSRRA is most concerned that Ms Barnes appears to suffer from a fundamental misunderstanding as to what the responsibilities of local government are, as they certainly do not include, in our view, acting as a handmaiden to facilitate the implementation of state or federal government strategies; nor to devote council’s resources serving the interests of business.
Ms Barnes should not need to be reminded of the fact that the role of local government is to provide services & infrastructure within its local area & while obviously local government must recognise & respond to relevant state & federal legislation, its primary duty is to make decisions based on identified community needs & wishes. Principle service responsibilities include:
· Local & regional roads, footpaths & cycleways, street signage, lighting & parking;
· Services such as childcare & aged care;
· Waste management including rubbish collection & recycling;
· Domestic animal regulation:
· Recreation facilities including parks, gardens, sports fields & swimming pools;
· Water supply, sewerage & stormwater & drainage;
· Land & coast care programs;
· Town planning, building approvals & inspections; &
· Local boating & marine infrastructure.
And while BVSC must obviously maintain effective & positive relationships with government at every level, in particular so as to secure adequate levels of funding to assist in the provision of essential infrastructure, it should never forget that it is answerable to its local community first & foremost.
Perhaps our elected Council should be reminding Ms Barnes about that fact?
Ms Barnes was further reported as saying:
“We need to continue to be strategic, lift our vision and to think outside our current paradigms. The Councillors have commenced sessions of blue sky thinking as they undertake a full high level strategic review – this is exciting and they are passionate about getting draft positions out to the community for discussion.”
This from a general manager who can't even present a coherent report to council laying-out the detail of the draft Revised Delivery Program 2017-2021 & Operational Plan 2018-2019.
The BVSRRA obviously accepts that BVSC must be informed by a clear strategic direction & plans endorsed by the community however, its first priority must be to devise strategies & plans which will deliver the core services the community expects & not to get caught-up in the silly fantasies of the general manager.
The BVSRRA has already made it clear that it shares the concerns evidenced by Crs Bain, Allen, Fitzpatrick & Nadin as to the performance & capabilities of the general manager & it believes that this latest flight of fancy does nothing to allay those concerns or to produce more positive outcomes for our community.
Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association