Thursday, January 7, 2010

Open doors at council workshop

TWO meetings at the council tonight brought this week's tally to four. At 5.30 I attended a committee meeting to discuss the council's future relationship with Valley Vision - more on this later. At 6.30pm we moved on to the monthly council workshop. This was my first attendance at a workshop so I'm not in a position to compare it to previous sessions, but tonight's was a relaxed but productive workshop, made all the better by the presence of three members of the public.

Mayor Martyn Evans led us through an informal agenda which included discussions of the following topics:
  • A proposed date for a meeting with the Willow Court working party to discuss its future. At last month's council meeting we discussed the options of inviting the working party to become an advisory committee to the council, or perhaps becoming a "Friends of Willow Court" group and we would like to discuss all the options with the good people of that committee.
  • Councillors will have a working bee this weekend to tidy a room in the New Norfolk Courthouse which has been set aside as the "Councillors Room".
  • Councillor Judy Bromfield objected to leaflets being distributed which said "Derwent Valley residents" invited the recepient to a community day in the Florentine Forest. Cr Bromfield said she was a Derwent Valley resident and had made no such invitation.
  • Councillor Jim Elliott followed up a matter relating to a dress code for male councillors, and said there did not appear to be any such dress code, but he believed councillors should dress smartly for monthly council meetings. Mayor Evans agreed.
  • A lack of seating in High St was discussed and at my suggestion it was agreed to refer this to the Access Advisory Committee for its consideration. It was reported that there were spare bench seats in storage.
  • Councillor Scott Shaw suggested that a trial run be conducted of the planter pots proposed for High St. He said that wooden replicas of the boxes, which will be about 900mm square, should be placed in the street for public comment. This is a good idea and I will be moving for the removal of the Burnett St planter boxes when the formal council meeting is held later this month.
  • A draft cost/benefit analysis was provided regarding the opening of the council offices between Christmas and the New Year. I look forward to hearing this debated at a future council meeting so a decision can be made about the viability of continuing the practice.
  • I advised my colleagues of a Chamber of Commerce dinner function coming up next month and invited councillors to attend. Guest speaker will be Mario Cortez, who is redeveloping the former administration building at Willow Court.
  • Mayor Evans reported on the naming of streets at the Gateway estate, a matter which had been raised by Cr Bromfield last month. He advised that Leila St was named after the mother of the property developer Raiph Saadri, and Fowler Court was named after the in-laws of the previous developer, Vic Ernst. General manager Stephen Mackey advised that in future all proposed street names will come before the full council for consideration, as there is an approved list of pioneer settler names for use on local streets.
  • Mayor Martyn Evans and Deputy Mayor Craig Farrell reported on planning for Australia Day and remarked that it was hoped to have an official opening of the new performance stage at Tynwald Park on the same day.
  • We had a general discussion about council mergers and generally agreed that it was important for our council to take an active position and explore all options rather than waiting to have a government decision forced upon us. I commented that I would like the council to consider the option for forming a joint authority with neighbouring councils, so that we could retain our own council and our own identity, while gaining the benefits of a close working relationship and sharing resources with our neighbours, particularly the Central Highlands.
  • Responding to a question from Councillor Jim Elliott, general manager Stephen Mackey said the Southern Tasmanian Councils Authority's proposed merger with the Southern Waste Strategy Authority had not occurred.
  • We discussed providing a green waste collection day and a bulky items collection day in future. A matter for consideration in next year's budget.
  • We looked at plans for a proposed turning lane outside Tynwald Park. I remarked that I would prefer to see a roundabout built, as the single turning lane would only fix half of the problem there. Councillors agreed with my sentiments and Mr Mackey undertook to report this to the State Government.
  • Mr Mackey presented a report on compulsory voting in council elections, a matter which the State Government has proposed and has sought our opinion on. I asked for a report to be presented to the February council meeting so we can debate the matter and make a decision on the council's official position.
  • Councillor James Elliott asked whether it was true that 11 units were proposed to be built on a double-block at Lower Rd, New Norfolk, which was flood prone land. Cr Elliott is correct. The land in question is most certainly a flood plain and becomes soggy most winters. Mr Mackey said he would investigate.
  • A member of the public asked why the Peppermint Hill tip did not open until 10.30am daily. Mr Mackey advised that this was due to operational matters at the site. 
Thanks to everyone for their participation, including the members of the public who attended.


  1. A suitable entrance to Tynwald Park would be greatly appreciated. It is a fabulous area used by many on a daily basis, including myself, but please do not forget our "Esplanade" it also needs an uplift.
    The roads are disgraceful, the foreshore is an eyesore, the facilities are not sufficient by any means and the road signage on where and how to find anything, leaves little to the imagination..."our Esplanade"needs HELP!

  2. Ridding the town of those concrete boxes in Burnett Street would get the vote of the majority of the townsfolk, including me.
    What an utter waste of money - traffic hazard and ugly eyesore.
    The sooner they are gone the better.

  3. Re: the Peppermint Hill tip;

    Can you be more specific regarding "operational matters" .......
    I am sure Mr Mackey could be more "transparent" toward the people of New Norfolk who use this site.

  4. PEPPERMINT HILL: Thanks for your question (and thanks for visiting my blog too). I left the reference to the tip site question a little vague, as I did not make comprehensive notes of the exchange.

    I did note that one of the stated "operational matters" was that the staff used the early morning period to cover the previous days' dumpings. At the time I said this sounded a little odd, as surely the covering would be done the night before?

    Opening hours at the tip have never been perfect and they have certainly changed over the years. But this is not an excuse not to reconsider them now.

    Perhaps any council officer reading this might like to shed some more light on the topic.