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There has been considerable discussion about the increasing role of party politics in local government, in particular since the State Government changed the law around eligibility for election as mayor a few months ago. I don't believe there is any place for party politics in councils. If you want an independent councillor you should ask how "independent" your preferred candidates are. I have no party and no backers. I authorise my own campaign statements and have accepted no donations. I have not asked for or accepted any offers to display signs or posters and took some convincing to allow a very determined friend to letterbox some of my surplus leaflets to areas outside the main distribution area. You can read more about candidate disclosure here.
Council expenditure remains a real concern to me. I am sure we can do better, but it requires a majority of councillors to be of a like mind in this regard. We have tinkered around the edges and saved a few dollars by ceasing the catering at councillor workshops but we have not been able to direct sufficient funding to the reconstruction of our roads in particular. I'm not sure we can achieve the improvements we would all like to see if we eliminate increases in the rates and reduce some of the charges as proposed by some candidates. Hypothetically speaking, if you have a 0% rate increase when inflation is running at 2.5% per cent, the budget is immediately at a disadvantage. That said, rate rises aren't the only way to increase the council's revenue, so I'll be keen to hear what any new councillors have to say on this.
Which brings me to Willow Court. The council's complete mishandling of this historic site was my main reason for seeking election in 2009. I won't go over old ground here, but the new council didn't exactly get off to a great start on this either. Then, in 2011-12 I put a new plan for Willow Court to the council and the outcome is that the first stage of the redevelopment is nearly complete. One wing of the Barracks and most of Bronte House has been restored and will soon be opened to visitors. This is largely due to the efforts of the Willow Court Conservation Committee appointed by council in 2012. Next month will see some preliminary work done in advance of an archaeological investigation that will start in Willow Court early next year and has the potential to go on for several years. This will include the colonial tunnel or sewer that connected Willow Court to the River Derwent via Burnett St and I'm really excited about this. I think the word "passion" is over-used these days, but there's no doubting that Willow Court is something I am passionate about and the job is far from finished.
Please note: Following the issuing of the notice of election, readers' comments relating to the election must include the given name, surname and locality of the writer. Anonymous comments cannot be published. Comments or questions not intended for publication can be emailed to me directly.