Thursday, March 1, 2018

Back to the public gallery

AFTER more than eight years as one of your councillors I have reached the difficult decision to resign from the Derwent Valley Council. This is due to changes in my employment which will make it difficult to effectively carry out council duties, as well as presenting actual or potential conflicts of interest.

My letter of resignation has been sent to the council's general manager today and I believe that a recount will be conducted of the votes cast in my favour at the last election, in order to determine who will fill the vacancy.

Some will be aware that I had already decided not to contest this year's council elections but I very much regret that I am unable to complete the remaining seven months of my term and I apologise to anyone who may feel let down by my decision. I value the trust placed in me at the 2009 and 2014 council elections and hope I have lived up to the expectations of those who voted for me.

There is certainly a feeling of unfinished business, particularly in regard to Willow Court. I am impatient by nature and the rate of progress has been just as frustrating (if not more) for me as it has been for many of you. But progress has been made, despite the almost complete lack of support from state and federal governments of all colours in the last five years. The present State Government told councillors this was because Willow Court was "on the nose". The previous government promised to return Willow Court to Crown ownership but then reneged on the undertaking.

This has forced the council to make some hard choices. In principle I'm opposed to asset sales at Willow Court, but selling the former recreation ground to Woolworths provided our community with a large new supermarket and money to fund the restoration of substantial parts of the Barracks and Bronte House at Willow Court. This in turn led to the opening of the world-renowned Agrarian Kitchen Eatery in Bronte House, and further expressions of interest are now being sought for future uses of the remainder of the council-owned section of the site. It's also been my great pleasure to be closely associated with the Flinders University archaeology field schools conducted at Willow Court for the last few summers.

Of course, being an elected member of the Derwent Valley Council isn't all about Willow Court and there have been many other issues keeping councillors busy. I fought to save the Maydena Primary School from demolition when the school closed, and now it is an integral part of the new Maydena Bike Park. If the council maintains its present course, it will soon be in a position to deliver a new community centre for the people of Maydena. I have argued for public toilets at Bushy Park and these should be provided this year. I stayed on the case of the decades-overdue construction of the corner of George and Stephen Streets in New Norfolk and completing the Trevor Terrace retaining walls that mysteriously stopped about 15 years ago.

A councillor can achieve very little on their own and all of the above, and more, were only gained by working with other councillors and staff. I thank all the councillors and staff I have worked with over the last eight years. Sadly the task of present and future councillors has been made very much harder due to State Parliament's decision that councillors must have the general manager's permission before talking to council staff.

It has been my privilege to work with many of the council's Special Committees and I hope to maintain this connection with several of them as a volunteer.  I place on record that the members of committees like the Friends of Frescati, Boyer Oval Management, Derwent Valley Tidy Towns, Molesworth Recreation Ground, Bushy Park Pool, Gleeson Park, New Norfolk Business Alliance and the Historical Information Centre, to name just a few, are some of the hardest-working and most community-minded people you will meet.

My resignation as an elected member does not signal a reduction in my interest in the council's activities. Why don't you come and join me in the council's public gallery sometime?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Council media release: general manager

(I do not endorse the sentiments expressed by the mayor in this media release.)

19 February 2018

Derwent Valley Council has re-appointed General Manager Greg Winton for a second three year contracted period, following the consideration of the Council at its January meeting. Announcing the re-appointment of Mr Winton, Derwent Valley Mayor Martyn Evans said the municipality had benefited from the experience and professional expertise which Mr Winton had brought to the role.

“The General Manager’s role is a challenging one, balancing the progression of Council decisions, with the expectations of community members with a strong connection to their local area and the leadership skills to help guide the community through the evolution of our business and social landscape.” Councillor Evans said.

“It’s Council’s view that Mr Winton is the best person to lead the Derwent Valley Council organisation as it continues to strive for best practice and continuous improvement in its daily service provision for our community. “Council’s large capital works program rollout for this year needs a steady hand and keen oversight of the process. Mr Winton’s deep understanding of budget and logistical matters have been evident in the way he tackles large projects of this type.

“As we strengthen our partnerships with tourism providers, the high-end food industry, agricultural enterprises and our traditional industries, I’m confident that Mr Winton will represent the organisation with passion, drive and imagination, backed with strong formal management skills” Councillor Evans said.

Mayor Evans indicated a remuneration package of $211,000, inclusive of vehicle and professional development expenses would be payable to the General Manager.

Karen Gower Bradley
Communications Officer
M: 0477317777

Council media release: Willow Court

Derwent Valley historic jewel ready for polishing

16 February 2018

Derwent Valley Council is seeking expressions of interest from entrepreneurs with a positive vision for developing the Council-owned sections of the historic Willow Court precinct, including Frascati House. The expression of interest process established by Council will identify potential investors with a creative vision for the site.

Willow Court forms the historically-significant centre of the Royal Derwent Hospital, the site of Australia’s longest continually-operated mental health facility. Derwent Valley Council took ownership of the precinct in the early 2000s. The original barracks building on the site pre-dates the architecture of Port Arthur.

An eclectic mix of building styles and configurations at the site lends itself to many appropriate uses.
Council has sold some of the peripheral built assets of the site, while retaining control of many of the significant heritage buildings.

Mayor of the Derwent Valley, Martyn Evans, said the Council is open to imaginative concepts which recognise the historic jewel at the centre of the precinct. “We’ll be open to considering sensitive expressions of interest for the site, which relate to the social heritage of Willow Court” Mayor Evans said. “Council will be looking for concepts which offer opportunities for new business initiatives to stimulate local economic activity.”
Concept plans, master plans or similar for the site will also be considered as part of the expression of interest application process. Derwent Valley Council has established the expression of interest process, to be conducted in conjunction with a Tasmanian-based real estate sales and marketing provider, as a proactive and sensitive step to preserve, protect and promote Willow Court.

For more information on the expression of interest process, interested developers are invited to contact LJ Hooker Commercial in Hobart on 03 6238 4800.

Media queries contact:
Karen Gower Bradley
Communications Officer
M: 0477317777

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Meeting at Westerway tonight

THE Westerway Community Hall will be the venue for the monthly council meeting tonight (Thursday, February 15).

The evening will start with a community forum at 6.30 and this is your opportunity to come along and ask any questions of concern, or have a chat with your councillors. The formal council meeting will follow at 7pm.

Please join us - and if you would like any assistance or information about the meeting or community forum, please do get in touch. The meeting agenda is available online and in hardcopy from the council chambers.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Listen in to the January meeting

YOU'RE in luck if you enjoyed the audio recording of the December 2017 Derwent Valley Council meeting. January 2018's recording has now been published on the council website and can can be accessed here.

Community grants open

THE council has opened its community grants program for the 2017/18 financial year. Not-for-profit sporting, cultural and community groups within the Derwent Valley municipal area are invited to apply for assistance in cash and kind under this program.

The council generally gives preference to groups in the municipality which have broad community benefit, with grants mostly falling in the range of $200 to $1000. A second round of grants may be offered if the budget of $12,000 is not fully allocated in the initial round.

Applications close on February 16. Click here for the application form and guidelines.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Council recording now available

THE audio recording of last month's Derwent Valley Council meeting has been published on the council website today. It can be accessed here.

This is a great step forward and will open the council to greater scrutiny. This is particularly important at the start of a council election year as it will allow voters to hear how their councillors are performing.

The council's audio recording policy says the digital file will generally be available on the council website within five business days of the meeting. Despite this new service I still believe the best way to have the full experience of a council meeting is to attend in person and I remain available to assist any person who would like to attend and ask questions.