Mr Andrew Tilley
It’s about six weeks into social distancing, hand washing and Zoom meetings. I hope you are all well and managing.
I’ve caught the bug - not the COVID bug, as far as I know - but the bug of watching the new sport of interstate and international COVID-19 figure watching. Who is catching up, who has a second wind and who will win the biggest prize? Which nation will crack the vaccine?
After all, there’s no footy, and it has dominated all our lives since March.
Excuse me for sounding flippant. I’m not. We can all be grateful for a community that’s been able to avoid mass infections and unnecessary premature death rates. Part of this success is that we let the leaders lead us and they haven’t let us down. I would like to pass on a big thankyou and appreciation to our local Professor Nicola Spurrier, our Chief Medical Officer, whose reports have given clear and impartial information and comfort.
Council has also been dominated by COVID-19 issues. Staff have been managed in creative ways, some work from home, some take leave and the outdoor staff travel around to their jobs in separate vehicles. No-one has been retrenched and most are working harder than ever.
Rate relief for those suffering financially from the virus lockdown has been targeted while we are discussing the general rate that seeks to address a need to keep services at an acceptable level and introduce new initiatives to stimulate growth.
Balancing these has resulted in some torrid debates between members. We invite all to witness via the Zoom link on the Council website.
Speaking of ‘torrid’ debates in the Chamber, Gault Ward is missing its champion of 29 years. Stephen Fisher has had to resign for health reasons. Stephen never shirked in torrid debates. He was a frontline warrior, skilled in insurgencies, and always in aggressive defence of fairness for his area and people, friendly planning and design, and quick to attack excessive spending.
On a personal level, I miss Cr Fisher greatly. We had similar attitudes on the many items that came across the Council desk. He was friendly, personal and warm, easy to disagree with but impossible to offend.
He has a chair in Council that was ‘Stephen’s’. It is a plain wooden chair, a remnant of a period before all the chairs became furnished with wheels and obscure little levers that adjusted in every direction. Stephen preferred four stable wooden legs over five-wheeled plastic, vinyl and steel.
Stephen’s main issues were the threat of multi-storey buildings lining our main streets and minimal block sizes. These passions brought him into conflict with the yet to be introduced new Planning and Design Code. In this area he was ferocious, willing to take on all and sundry, his pet target being all planners, in particular the Minister for Planning and Transport. He verbally attacked the current one as equally as his predecessor.
Let’s hope we as a Council can continue his legacy.