Sunday, June 27, 2010

A critic? Not this time

IT was a bit of a surprise to hear myself being described as a critic at last week's workshop on the draft report on Willow Court by management consultant Malcolm MacDonald. I'm still not sure whether the suggestion was that I'm a critic of Mr MacDonald's work, or of the Willow Court and Barracks Special Committee, but I'm neither.

I was equally surprised to hear so many people expressing their support for the notion of handing Willow Court over to an "entity" that doesn't yet exist. I know most of my council colleagues are keen to offload Willow Court, but I didn't realise so many members of the new Willow Court committee felt the same.

My comments shouldn't be interpreted as criticism of Mr MacDonald for making the suggestion, although I do believe it was outside his terms of reference. My reason for suggesting that the council engage a consultant was to provide us with one comprehensive step-by-step plan to enable us to have Willow Court open as a visitor attraction as soon as possible. I did not expect the consultant to delve into ownership issues, but Mr MacDonald says this was essential to his work. I disagree, but it's not a deal breaker and I look forward to seeing the finished report.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Roundabout takes shape

IT'S about 20 years over-due but the long-awaited roundabout at the junction of High and Stephen Sts has started taking shape. A temporary structure was put in place this week, marking out the dimensions that can be expected when the permanent structure is put in place.

Government funding for the roundabout was secured by Valley Vision as part of its High St spacial planning project. The location has been an unofficial turning circle for many generations and there has been talk of a roundabout for several decades.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Council budget night coming up on Monday

COUNCILLORS have been called to a special meeting this Monday night to consider the Derwent Valley Council's budget for 2010-2011. These meetings are usually are dry affair, as all matters have been sorted out in budget sessions over the preceding weeks. The budget process has been an interesting experience and I believe there is room for improvement in the process, but credit is due to council accountant John Bradley for providing councillors with clear and concise details. The meeting will be at 6.30pm in the courthouse and everyone is welcome to attend what should be a relatively quick proceeding.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Willow Court update

A WORKSHOP on progress to date on the consolidation of planning for the Willow Court redevelopment will be held by the Derwent Valley Council and the Willow Court and Barracks Working Party at 6.30pm this Thursday (June 24) in the council social rooms Circle St, New Norfolk. All council workshops are open to the public.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Latest Gazette advertisement

BELOW is my latest report, published as an advertisement in last week's issue of the Derwent Valley Gazette. My thanks to everyone for their comments received.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Declaration of interests

AFTER declaring an interest in any item being discussed at a council meeting, councillors are required to submit a return indicating their reasons. Last month I excused myself from the discussion of three items at two meetings. The first item was the appointment of a chairman for the council's code of conduct panel on May 10. As there is the matter of an unresolved code of conduct complaint against me, I thought it best to remove myself from the appointment of the person who would be investigating the matter.

At the May 20 council meeting I left the room during discussion of the removal of trees on Hobart Rd, as one of the tenderers for the job is also my gardener. Similarly, a closed council meeting later that night involved the lease of offices at 2 High St, where my father is both a former and prospective lessee.

My declarations are posted below.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Does it pay to belong?

LAST week we met as a council to consider the first draft of the budget for the next financial year. Following the recent decision of the Glenorchy City Council to withdraw from the Local Government Association of Tasmania, I was keen to learn the cost of our membership of the association - which turns out to be more than $28,000. On top of that, our council pays just over $18,000 to be part of the Southern Tasmanian Councils Authority. Ending the Derwent Valley Council's membership of these bodies may seem extreme, but it would cut 1% from our annual rates bill.

General manager Stephen Mackey advised that the council must give a year's notice if it decides to withdraw from the LGAT. This has been considered before, at the request of Cr Judy Bromfield, but did not proceed. It is time to consider the costs and benefits of remaining in the LGAT. At the same time, the association should consider whether the allowances paid to its office bearers and members are a little generous.

Code of conduct

I WELCOME the recent appointment of a new chairman for the Derwent Valley Council's code of conduct panel. At a Special Meeting held on May 10, the council appointed Plenty resident Ken Pomlett as chairman of the panel, and Bushy Park resident Viv Cardwell as proxy chairman. They replace the late Robert Walker.

I excused myself from that section of the meeting as there is currently an outstanding complaint relating to statements I am alleged to have made at my first council meeting last November. I welcome the appointment and look forward to the complainant having the opportunity to have his concerns addressed.