Coffs Harbour now has a new elected Council and it is almost an even mix of the old and the new. Let’s leave aside well founded issues around voter apathy and donkey and informal voting that have been covered here on Coffs Outlook in excellent detail before.
Also let’s also steer clear of issues relating to how ‘above the line groups’ were able to elect members to Council with only a handful of votes in this article, let’s instead now consider what the future holds.
In order to think about where Coffs Harbour might head under its new Council a range of issues need to be considered, things such as voting blocs, alliances, the propensity of those alliances to change over time and the various agendas councillors and the Mayor may have all need to be considered and we may get to these in time.
But one good place to start is to consider what vision, if any, the elected councillors expressed about what they wanted to see for Coffs Harbour. By that I mean what vision did they articulate in relation to making this an even better place to live, to love, to work in and to do business in? After all this would give us some idea of their big picture guiding principles would it not?
And here’s the thing, I am scratching to find anything like this from any of the elected candidates. I’ve gone through The Advocate’s back stories and nothing like that leaps out at me from any of the candidates. Oh sure we had the unscientific poll in The Advocate listing readers priorities but strategic, big picture and visionary are not words I’d apply to them irrespective of the fact more than a few the issues are real and important in my humble opinion.
The new Deputy Mayor stated his decision was driven by his desire to see a more “stable, progressive council” which only time will tell happens or not but, sorry George, a big picture view for where you want to see this city go it is not.
The Council has published big picture stuff before. The Community 2030 Strategic Plan published in 2013 states its five key thematic goals, all resulting from community engagement forums, are;
- “We are a prosperous and learning community. (Theme: Learning and Prospering)
- Our communities are healthy, informed and engaged. (Theme: Looking after our Community)
- Our natural environment is protected and conserved for future generations. (Theme: Looking after our Environment)
- We are moving around easily, safely and sustainably. (Theme: Moving Around)
- Our built environment connects us and supports us in living sustainably. (Theme: Places for Living).”
All are worthwhile and I support them, but the trick is how are they to be attained? Some answer may have been in the Coffs Harbour Economic Strategy 2014 – 2017 which at least has some vision in that it states it is built around “Growth through localisation and love of our City“. The problem with that strategy document is that I have been told by someone very close to the plan that it ” died the minute the big 2015 CHCC restructure was announced”.
So are we back to ‘Square one’ then? I intend to write more about the type of place I would like to see Coffs Harbour become in future pieces for Outlook. But in the meantime how about a few, or all, of our current Mayor and Councillors offering up their visions in a couple of tight sentences and then give their reasoning for their vision and their thoughts about how to achieve it?
More than a few people have said to me that this will be a ‘do nothing’ Council Ad, no, that was not meant to be complimentary. So here, Mayor and Councillors, is your chance to start proving them wrong.
Send a piece into Hugh folks and let’s talk about it here and elsewhere too. Heck even past Councillors are welcome too. Why restrict it? Let’s hear from readers too. Let’s get a conversation rolling that hopefully will lead to action.
I’ll take your silence as having proven the ‘do nothing’ charge.
Lastly, I have two questions for the GM of the CHCC, Mr Steve McGrath. Mr McGrath are you planning;
- any more restructuring exercises at the CHCC over the next four years? And,
- are you planning any more rate rises?
Just reply below this story. And remember to tick that you ‘are not a robot’ box!
After all I reckon these are important issues for Councillors and ratepayers to consider when looking at any vision for the city.
That’s my ‘two-bob’s worth’.
By The Contrarian.