Mayoral Column 13 April 2015

Published on 13 April 2015

And they call this puppy love

Last week, Council secured two convictions against proprietors of a dog breeding establishment for breaches against the Planning Scheme. The Loddon Shire Council administers our Planning Scheme and the Code of Practice for the Operation of Breeding and Rearing Businesses. 

My fellow Councillors and I, along with our staff, take these responsibilities very seriously.

We have a number of registered breeding establishments operating within the municipality. These establishments are inspected annually to ensure that they are operating in accordance with their obligations under the Code. I am satisfied that establishments that comply with the Code also operate humanely.

Senior staff immediately inform Council of any unregistered breeding establishments that are discovered operating within Loddon Shire. A number of prosecutions are pending in relation to unregistered animal breeding establishments.

My message is – there is no place in Loddon Shire for animal breeding businesses that seek to skirt the law or treat their animals inhumanely.

Treasures hidden around Wedderburn

People from across Central Victoria and as far as Melbourne will converge on Wedderburn in the hunt for treasure this weekend.

Wedderburn will host a geocaching event, which allows people to find a geocache (container) hidden in a location using handheld GPS-enabled devices.

The containers are hidden around the town where they are not too difficult to find, but away from the public eye. The coordinates are published online, allowing everyone to participate in the hunt.

The container holds a logbook and toys, and the idea behind the treasure hunt is to sign the logbook once you have found the treasure and swap a toy inside the container with one you have brought along.

Last year the event attracted 100 people from across the region.

Events like these are great for at attracting tourists to Loddon, increasing our visitor bed nights and encouraging people to explore the outdoor backyard that our municipality has to offer.

Event organiser Brian Boyton said 1000s of geocaches are hidden across Australia and in fact, on a recent holiday to Alice Springs, Mr Boyton uncovered 100 geocaches.

He said there are expensive hand-held GPS devices but those looking to get involved in geocaching can purchase an entry level device for $150.

Anyone interested in the sport can talk to Mr Boyton on how they might be able to get involved in future events. Mr Boyton will be at the event, which will run from 9am on Saturday 18 April at Soldiers Memorial Park.

Council is on track with its four year plan

The Council Plan 2013/2017 was adopted at the June 2013 Council meeting and identifies seven key strategic priorities.

The Shire is almost half way through the plan, ticking off a number of key projects.

Platform 1 of the plan is to support townships in preserving their individuality whilst leveraging their collective strength.

Two key projects have been completed and two more started, which will work towards building a network of strong communities within the municipality.

Council has undertaken significant work to identify the need for the provision of childcare in our municipality and has worked with a consultant to develop a cost-effective model for our small communities.

Council’s online presence has helped to aid the strategic direction, with the implementation of a Facebook page and a redesign of Council’s website.

The website now lists all volunteer groups and their contact details. The website also provides event organisers with an opportunity to promote events.

Platform 2 has seen Council work hard to grow the municipality’s population through appropriate development.

A number of key projects have been completed, with others near completion. Projects include: the Rural Zones Review, settlement strategy, subdivision at Bridgewater, online planning application process for commercial development, a planning application progress tracking system, an Economic Development Strategy and marketing surplus Council property.

The third strategic platform on Council’s plan is to champion our agrifood enterprises.

Council has embarked on a number of opportunities to advocate the agrifood sector to ensure it is adequately resourced to remain the backbone of the Shire’s economy.

Council used this key priority when completing its planning scheme review and has provided strong advocacy support for the Innovative Farming Project. Council continues to support the Victorian Regional Transport Strategy with the Director Operations sitting on the steering committee.

Council has completed its Wedderburn Community Centre Redevelopment, installed dump points at three locations and delivered local accommodation guides.

The Shire has worked hard to be named an RV Friendly Shire and completed its master plans for high use recreation facilities.

Council has also started working towards the Wedderburn, Boort, Pyramid Hill and Bridgewater streetscape developments, the Inglewood Town Hall Hub project and policy framework for unsightly properties in major towns.

Council will continue to identify drainage strategies within townships, review its Building Asset Management Plan and Road Asset Management Plan and develop a Stormwater Asset Management Plan.

Council’s plan also identified a need to grow and diversify our economy.

A list of suitable accommodation venues has been placed on Council’s website, the Bridgewater Public Caravan Park is completed, and Council’s Economic Development Strategy was developed in line with the key strategy.

Council also looks to support small town communities to retain the best possible quality of life in the face of a declining population with increasing needs.

The final key strategic platform on Council’s plan is to engage with the region’s youth to equip them for a positive future and enhance our communities with young vibrant residents.

Council continues to run its Freeza and Kool Skools programs and the Shire has engaged with high schools to develop a Youth Advisory Council.

I’m proud to say Council has been working hard to achieve the set tasks within the strategic framework.

The four year plan is on track and while we still have a long way to go, I am sure we will do everything in our power to complete the tasks by 2017.