My column as printed in the June 2019 MCN – online version
As a new Councillor I’ve now had some six months on the job and it’s great. Great, because I think this will be a time for very positive change in our community and we have only just begun.
Some highlights so far:
Anyone attending the new Mitcham Memorial Library in January couldn’t help but be impressed.
It’s modern, spacious, inviting and accessible. However, it also highlighted how antiquated, cramped and unfit for purpose our current Blackwood Library is. So, with both major parties pledging $5 million, our challenge will now be to design and fund an equally splendid building for the heart of our community for the next 50 years. We have already started by approving expenditure to progress preliminary design plans.
$5 million will not be nearly enough, but I know that together we can do it.
Graffiti is a scourge in our community. Fortunately, Council was given new legal powers in 2017 that allow us to require landowners to clean up and prevent these nuisances. But we can’t be heavy handed; we need to work with the businesses in partnership. The old Anti Graffiti policy pre-dated these new powers, so in March I moved that we re-write it. By a large majority this was agreed, so I look forward to the new policy setting out timeframes, expectations and responsibilities for all.
Many Councils have problems with serial complainants. In March, my questions revealed that in 2018 just one resident cost our community almost $9,000 to provide answers to his multiple questions; all challenging the 2018 decision giving long-term leases to various sporting clubs in Colonel Light Gardens. As a result, we will now review the Independent Review of Decisions policy. Staff are also looking to secure approval of a new frivolous and vexatious complaints policy.
Given recent media reports that Charles Sturt Council has had one aggrieved resident cost them
$160,000, we must do this work to prevent such wasteful costs occurring here.
The new 2019/20 draft Annual Business Plan and Budget is now out for community consultation. The options presented are increasing rates by either 3.1% or 3.55%. In dollar terms this means
an average increase of either $53 or $60 per annum. Just one key difference is that for (on average) $7 more, we get to fully fund and plant 1,800 new trees annually so we don’t lose our
canopy of 90,000 trees. There’s lots more at www.mitchamcouncil.sa.gov.au/draftplan;
what new services do you want? Livestreaming?
New Citizens and (possibly) New Boundaries
Finally, in April we welcomed around 35 new citizens to our community. So many wonderful families and stories! Coincidentally, Onkaparinga has expressed interest in moving boundaries, so let’s have the conversation about the other half of Coromandel Valley joining us in Mitcham to re-unite the valley of Minnow Creek – now flowing again!
As always, my ears and my door at 174 Main Road, Blackwood are always open; feel free to call me on 8372 8888 or email email@example.com