Mayoral column 12 May 2014

Published on 12 May 2014

Local champs in line for honours

Nominations open soon for a unique set of awards designed to honour the Shire’s top sportspeople.

This year, Council is sponsoring its first-ever sports gala in the style of the Loddon Powercor Excellence Awards, which take place every two years. 

The high-profile social event will be held on Wednesday 20 August at Pyramid Hill.

Special guest will be sportsman, media commentator and motivational speaker Max Walker.

There will be 11 awards handed out honouring Loddon’s top team, administrator, coach, club or organisation, two sportspersons (male and female), two junior sportspersons (under 18), two master sportsperson (over 50) and the “Ultimate Sportsperson” to be chosen out of the six individual winners.

Nominations remain open until 19 June, with judging finalised by 30 July.

People can enter themselves or be nominated.  Individual categories will cover a nominee’s achievements over the previous 18 months (that is, 1 November 2012 to 30 April 2014), while a club or organisation’s track record can embrace the decade ending 31 December 2013.

Max Walker played 85 senior VFL games with the Melbourne Football Club while simultaneously pursuing his cricketing career.

A run of 70 Sheffield Shield matches for Victoria was rewarded with national selection in 1972/73, sharing the Australian dressing room with such legends of the game as Ian and Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee, Rodney Marsh, Jeff Thomson and Doug Walters.

Max was an early signature to Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket revolution, later joining Alan McGilvray on ABC Radio as a cricket commentator and hosting the Nine Network’s iconic Wide World of Sports programs for 16 years.

A qualified architect and successful author, Max is now in high demand as a consultant and speaker at awards events, workshops, formal dinners and galas.

For information on how to nominate, or to download a form, go to www.loddon.vic.gov.au 

CAPTION for picture: Sporting celebrity Max Walker will be special guest at Loddon Shire’s annual gala in Pyramid Hill later this year.

Rates plan poor thinking

Labor’s plan to cap Victorian council rate increases to CPI is unsustainable and misguided.

Under the proposal unveiled by Opposition leader Daniel Andrews, any council wishing to raise rates above CPI would need to apply to the Essential Services Commission for approval.

Loddon Shire’s rate increase this financial year was 5.5 per cent, while the CPI sits at 2.9 per cent.

If enacted, this move would force a rethink of Council’s long-term financial planning and pose a threat to Council services and infrastructure projects.

Our current annual rates income of $8.6 million goes a very long way – the capital works and roads program alone soaks up $8.42 million, only made possible by some extra government support.

There’s $2.5 million directed to home care services, $740,000 for township street improvement and streetscapes, $808,000 on economic development initiatives and the Shire’s ongoing commitment to community planning of $750,000.

Council pays for so much more, from emergency management, kindergartens and free maternal and child health check-ups to maintaining and improving our swimming pools, footpaths, bridges, halls, parks and sports facilities, monitoring food safety, providing public toilets, bins, waste collections and street lighting.

Every year, the Shire has to find 3-4 per cent more to deliver the same level and range of services, thanks to the inevitable growth in construction, material and wage costs.

It’s nothing to do with the price of bread and milk.

Council is constantly on the ball when it comes to possible cost savings and budget matters. Rate capping would only make things impossibly harder.

Mystery Shopper on the loose

If you run a tourism-based business, any customer walking through your door over the next six months could be a professional auditor looking to constructively critique how you’re doing.

Bendigo Regional Tourism, the body established in September 2012 involving Mount Alexander, Central Goldfields and Loddon Shires and the City of Greater Bendigo, has funded a Mystery Shopper program for Loddon during the first half of this year.

Tourism Audit Services, a specialist consultancy based in Melbourne, has been employed to conduct the health check as part of the state government’s Tourism Excellence Program.

Council Tourism Manager Robyn Vella said the Mystery Shopper scheme was designed to give honest feedback on how businesses were presenting themselves and their region.

“The idea is not to find fault, but to look at how a business operates its customer service at all levels,” Robyn said.

“This will take in phone etiquette, website presence, amenities, marketing materials, personal responses and more.

“The information gathered is completely confidential with the advantage of the business owner being able to measure his or her performance against similar-sized tourism operations across the state.”

For more information, please phone Robyn on 5494 1233.

Treat for the mums

Mother’s Day hasn’t passed unnoticed at the Shire’s kindergartens.

Inglewood hosted a simple celebration last Wednesday, Boort and Dingee organised gifts and cards and Wedderburn provided afternoon tea on Friday.

At Pyramid Hill, kindergarten mums have been invited to a “pampering session” on Tuesday 20 May, where the children will deliver some personal treats plus a cup of tea/coffee with chocolates.

Boort’s three-year-old group will hold a special morning tea for its mothers on 23 May.

Welcome, Leigh

Leigh Jardine has joined Loddon Shire Council as Manager Information, responsible for the management of IT services, records and information services within Council as well as providing IT support and expert guidance for Council’s future IT strategy.

Born and raised in the Ouyen district, Leigh brings with him 10 years’ experience in the IT industry, having worked in the public health system and private industry in business support and network design.

We welcome Leigh to the team and wish him well for his new role in Loddon.

Of muffins and motors

Two popular events on Loddon’s annual social calendar are on again this week.

Dingee’s Biggest Morning Tea, staged for more than a decade at Colin and Robyn Falls’ farm, has raised around $100,000 for breast cancer research, but this year has moved to a new venue.

The event is planned for this Friday (16 May) from 10am to noon at Dingee Bowling Club.

Organiser Karen Doolan said 400 people arrived last year, “coming by the busloads from Melbourne, Bendigo, Rochester, Echuca and around the district”.

Admission costs $5. For further details, phone Karen on 5443 3950 or Robyn Bird on 5436 8272.

The following day (17 May), the Wedderburn Historical Engine and Machinery Society is again hosting its Wedderburn swap meet and market at Engine Park.

Opening at 7am, the swap meet will offer all sorts of mechanical bargains. Entry is $2 and stalls cost $10.

For more information, phone 5494 3593 or 5494 3152.