MAYORAL COLUMN 28 November 2016

Published on 28 November 2016

Stay switched on to stay safe as summer strikes

The CFA has declared the beginning of the Loddon Shire fire restriction season.

In broad terms, this means residents throughout our Shire are unable to light a fire in the open air without an appropriate permit from Council or the CFA.

This doesn’t mean you’re unable to enjoy throwing a snag on the barby, it just means it’s a good time to vigilantly check any restrictions which may apply to that barbecue during the danger period.

A good source of information is the “Can I or Can’t I” brochure which is available at www.cfa.vic.gov.au.

I would encourage residents to familiarise themselves with this brochure to help prepare themselves for fire restrictions, including total fire ban days.

It’s good to get into the routine of checking the fire danger rating which ranges from low-moderate to Code Red each day.

This can be readily achieved by keeping an eye on media reports, logging onto the CFA website or the VicEmergency app, which replaces FireReady app this fire season.

Fire prevention property inspections

Slashing long grass, clearing rubbish and other flammable material from your property is vital to safeguarding yourself, your family and our community against fire danger.

Council’s local laws team is carrying out its second round of property inspections to ensure residents have completed fire prevention work.

At the end of the inspection process Council will engage contractors at the landholder’s expense to slash blocks which have not be adequately prepared for the fire season.

Non-compliance with fire prevention notices may result in a $1500 penalty on top of contractor fees.

I urge residents who have not completed fire prevention works to do so immediately to help keep our community safe over summer and avoid facing a hefty financial penalty.

Keep an eye out for water infrastructure

While I’m on the topic of property maintenance, I would like to remind property owners to remain vigilant about water infrastructure around their boundaries.

High spring growth along fence lines is obscuring Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water (GWMWater) air valves and pipeline pots that are an integral part of the pipeline system and farmers are in danger of damaging them when ripping, slashing or spraying.

Landholders are urged to be aware of this infrastructure when maintaining their boundaries ahead of the summer fire season.

Council has been alerted to the fact that reimbursement of costs may be sought for damage to GWMWater assets.

The location of GWMWater infrastructure around property boundaries can be viewed by visiting www.gwmwater.org.au/map.

Library hubs herald new era for Loddon

The mobile library service will roll into Loddon for the last time on December 23, ahead of plans to open several permanent library hubs across the municipality next year.

Wedderburn Community Centre, Boort Community Centre, Tarnagulla Community Centre
and Inglewood Neighbourhood House have been named sites of new library agencies.

Plans are also underway for Dingee Railway Station to be renovated before the community is welcomed through the doors of their new library.

Under the new model residents across Loddon Shire will have access to more than 100 hours of library service per week, in comparison to the 15.5 hours currently provided by the mobile library.

The Pyramid Hill Neighbourhood House currently houses Goldfields Library Corporation’s only library agency in the Loddon region, providing 24 hours of service per week.

It will continue to operate and has recently moved to a new building with renovated spaces where people can catch up with a friend or take a quiet moment to read a magazine.

Some library agencies will be able to offer free programs and workshops with a focus on children’s literacy and digital literacy for adults.

I hope to see more families within our municipality becoming active library members over the coming months, ready to enjoy all the new community hubs have to offer.

To find out more about this exciting collaborative community project visit www.ncgrl.vic.gov.au/rural.

Does your pool or spa fence meet regulations?

Council has joined Kidsafe Victoria’s call for all pool and spa owners to check safety barriers as part of the closing the gate on backyard pool drowning campaign.

A large number of drowning incidents occur due to barriers that are faulty or non-compliant with Australian standards.

Common non-compliance issues with pool barriers include gates which fail to self-latch or close, leaving climbable objects near the pool barrier which may allow a child to climb over the fence, excess space under the fence and leaving the pool gate propped open.

If you have an outdoor pool or spa on your property I would encourage you to pop the newspaper down and take 20 minutes to complete an online home pool safety self-assessment at hhp://www.kidsafevic.com.au/water-safety/pool-fence-safety.