Mayoral Column 3 February 2014

Published on 03 February 2014

New Australian citizens at Boort

Loddon Shire Mayor Cr Gavan Holt congratulates new Australian citizens Wendy Liu, Annalaise and Ashraf Takla after the Australia Day ceremony at Boort.

New Australian citizen at Wedderburn

Cr Gavan Holt with Christine Nash, who received her certificate of Australian citizenship at Wedderburn on Australia Day.

Project to lighten the load

Loddon Shire has committed itself to taking part in a massive sustainability initiative which will see about 23,000 street lights upgraded across northern, central and western Victoria.

Meeting in Serpentine last week, Council gave the nod to the use of LED light replacements and approved additional budget allocations for the next two financial years.

The “Lighting the Regions” project sees 16 local government authorities working with the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance and the Wimmera Mallee Sustainability Alliance.

The municipalities involved are Loddon, Central Goldfields, Hepburn, Pyrenees, Swan Hill, Gannawarra, Mount Alexander, Greater Bendigo, Buloke, Ararat, Northern Grampians, Hindmarsh, Horsham, Yarriambiack, West Wimmera and Mildura.

The consortium has secured $5,129,780 in federal government funding over three years under the Community Energy Efficiency Program.

The original estimated cost of the project was $8,475,000, with the balance of $3,345,220 to be met by the councils. Loddon’s share was put at $75,767.

The upgrade is expected to save the councils $40 million in electricity and maintenance costs over the next 20 years.

In his report to Council, Manager Infrastructure David Fry said the original plan was to replace inefficient 80-watt mercury vapour street lights with T5-type fluorescents, but a subsequent decision by provider Powercor had paved the way for the use of LEDs.

He said the higher cost of LED lighting meant extra budget allocations of $30,000 would be needed for each of the next two financial years.

“The accepted life expectancy of T5 lights is about 20 years and, although there is no current data on the life of LED lights, the industry believes they will last at least twice as long as that,” David said.

“The payback period for Council for going to LED will be four years.”

Loddon Shire has 519 street lights which will need to be replaced.  Energy savings over those four years have been estimated at 77%, with a total cost saving to Council over 20 years of $1,345,532.

Preschool’s happy day

Inglewood Kindergarten is the last of Loddon Shire’s five Council-run preschools to have undergone searching scrutiny under the National Quality Framework assessment program – and it’s another happy outcome.

Councillors were told at their meeting last week that the centre had received a rating of “Meeting National Quality Standards” in all seven areas examined during this round of reviews.

The National Quality Framework assessment applies to most long day care, family day care, pre-school (or kindergarten) and outside schools hours care services in Australia.

Its aim is to set a new national benchmark for the quality of education and care services.

The government assessors spent two days at Inglewood last August, as well as meeting with Council’s Early Years Co-ordinator.

Director Community Wellbeing Wendy Gladman said the process was an exhaustive one, with 18 separate standards scrutinised within the seven areas.

“Our kindergartens work towards their assessment goals for 12 months or more, as a great deal of evidence needs to be gathered,” she said.

“To have all of our preschools come through so well is a fantastic outcome.”

Anzac centenary in view

On 25 April next year, ceremonies at Gallipoli will mark the 100th anniversary of the landings at Anzac Cove.
 
The federal government has conducted a ballot, closing last Friday, to allocate places to Australians and New Zealanders planning to attend the official commemorations.

In December, Council decided to enter that ballot and, at its latest meeting last week, offered me, as current Mayor, the opportunity to have my name submitted.

Of the 10,500 places available, 8,000 will be for Australians, 2,000 for New Zealanders and 500 for official representatives of nations involved in the Gallipoli campaign, including up to 250 representatives from Turkey.

Keep your cool

The extreme heat of the past week in northern and central Victoria has been a trial for many of us – and it’s not over yet.

The Victorian Government operates a Heat Alert System, through which the Department of Health notifies local governments of predicted heatwaves.

When Council receives such a warning, it activates its own heatwave plan, which involves sending SMS or email advice to Loddon Shire residents and sporting clubs who have registered their names.

The hope is that, with this system, people will take extra precautions in coping with the conditions.

The Shire’s Director Community Wellbeing, Wendy Gladman, said last week that Council had also provided information and support to recipients of the community care service via its home care team and had been contacting vulnerable community members on each hot day.

“Prior to the summer, information about heatwaves and what you can do was sent out to all community care recipients,” Wendy said.

“We have also distributed information and drink bottles at recent seniors events.

“We encourage everyone to keep an eye out for family members and neighbours and just check on how they are managing. 

“Nurse-on-Call is another excellent resource for people concerned about their health on hot days. You can call 1300 606 024 from anywhere in Victoria 24 hours a day or, for emergencies, 000.”

To receive heatwave notifications, simply download a form from www.loddon.vic.gov.au or phone the Serpentine Office on 5437 7999 and one will be posted out.