As the new Councillor for Gault, it is an understatement to say that the past two months have been an intense learning curve, particularly taking over from someone as experienced as Stephen Fisher. Stepping into the Chamber at a time when critical decisions were being made on whole of Council finances, rates, key projects, asset planning, ward restructuring and COVID support has been a challenging but enjoyable experience.
Learning the protocols of the Chamber and absorbing the background information about major initiatives in progress has been the biggest challenge and remains a work in progress.
Feedback from Gault residents highlight the following as major issues of concern:
- Increased traffic flow particularly involving heavy vehicles through Lower Mitcham, Colonel Light Gardens and Westbourne Park
- Parking on verges, across footpaths and entrances to properties
- Management of trees and streetscapes
- Maintenance and renewals of footpaths and roads
- Heritage and environmental matters
- Equity of maintenance spending across the ward
- Housing development density and sub-division of properties particularly around Deepdene Avenue, Westbourne Park
Clearly some of these are not singularly Council responsibilities and maintaining a strong relationship with other levels of government is an important aspect of achieving best results.
As we come out of the ‘Covid curveball’ that was thrown at us and life drifts back towards normal, it is good to reflect on how lucky we are to live where we do and to appreciate all the things we have on hand in comparison with so many others less fortunate.
There remains a lot of work to do, however, to maintain the healthy community we all enjoy, and my ongoing priorities as Councillor include:
- Advocating responsible management of debt and value for money in major capital investments
- Ensuring those in need are cared for with dignity and are a priority when changes to services are considered
- Promoting accessible facilities for community use in all forms of recreational and organised sport
- Ensuring community infrastructure is maintained in an equitable, safe and sustainable manner
- Ensuring ratepayers’ money is spent effectively and for the benefit of the broad community as much as is practical
- Improving liaison with ratepayers through open contact with Local Elected Members and all forms of Council communications.
I am delighted to now have Coralie Cheney as my fellow Gault Councillor and I am confident that Coralie’s business experience and local background knowledge will contribute to a strong representation for the residents of Gault.
I would also like to thank Mayor Dr Heather Holmes-Ross and my fellow Councillors for their warm welcome to the Chamber and equally thank CEO Matt Pears, all managers and administration staff who have been particularly friendly and helpful.
I have already learned that it is not possible to be all things for all people and I will endeavour to continue to listen and do what I think is best for the local community and the Council as a whole.