Mayoral Column 30 June 2014
Published on 30 June 2014
Report card is in
The latest local government Community Satisfaction Survey is in – and, by the look of it, we’re doing well.
Each year, Local Government Victoria (part of the Department of Planning and Community Development) engages an independent consultant to conduct a phone survey of each municipality to measure residents’ satisfaction with the services provided by their council.
In Loddon, this work took place last February and March, with 400 people interviewed.
The results, presented to Councillors at their meeting in Serpentine last week, showed improvements in four of five core measures – overall job performance, customer service, advocacy and overall council direction.
Only on the core measure of community consultation did Council’s rated performance dip slightly – still positive, and high, at 60, but something Council will be working on during the coming 12 months.
The Shire’s overall performance rating rose to 69 this time, compared with 68 in 2013 and 67 in 2012. This is a significant nine points higher than the average for Small Rural Shires and eight points higher than the state-wide average.
Our best score came in customer service – 76 this year, or four points up on last year. That was a significant five points higher than Small Rural Shires in general and four up on the state-wide average.
It’s pleasing to see evidence that Loddon residents have endorsed Council's performance in almost all the key areas of our service delivery.
Call to young adults
Loddon Shire will soon become an official partner of a Bendigo-based network dedicated to helping young working adults develop their skills and advance their careers.
The Bendigo Young Professionals Network, established in 2004, aims to attract, retain and develop people in their twenties and thirties in and around Bendigo.
It offers opportunities for business and social networking, professional development workshops and hearing inspirational speakers.
Council’s Manager Community and Recreation Development, Allan Stobaus, said last week Loddon Shire was the first local government body to make the move to officially partner with BYPN.
“Our Council Plan recommended we establish a young professionals’ network in Loddon, but investigations have shown this may not be sustainable due to lack of numbers,” Allan said.
“That’s why we have set up this alliance with the Bendigo Young Professionals Network and want to encourage young people in Loddon to become involved.”
BYPN chair Josh Pell said this was an opportunity to involve young professionals in the Loddon region with others from elsewhere.
“A move like this expands everyone’s networks,” Josh said.
“BYPN has 600 members and a similar number of Facebook ‘likes’.
“We run a program of monthly events and would like to hold a couple of these out your way in the future.”
Recent get-togethers have included an Anzac Day breakfast, a training session on how to network well and a night focusing on the current real estate market and how to best handle decisions to rent or buy.
Coming up are a “Christmas in July” social evening on Bendigo’s tramcar restaurant and a special workshop as part of the Bendigo Writers Festival in August.
“We’re very excited about this move and really looking forward to working with young adults in Loddon Shire,” Josh said.
To find out more, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.ypn.net.au
Park works push ahead
The temporary opening of part of the Bridgewater Caravan Park in April was an unquestioned success, with strong demand for the sites made available, particularly over the Easter break.
The site was closed again after the Anzac Day long weekend, enabling Council to get on with the works needed to bring the $3.4 million project to completion.
The pool is now fully fenced and useable.
Current jobs include finishing off the barbecues, which have recently passed their testing requirements, and completing the manager’s residence, which now has plumbing and other services connected.
Work on the park office has continued off-site and this is still expected to be ready by early August.
Council’s grass planting program before the April invasion by holiday makers was a notable success and the capabilities of the irrigation system were really put to the test during that time.
As a follow-up, some tidying work remains to be done to sign off on the system.
In the meantime, design work on the new amenities building is being finalised and quotations are being sought for a number of other jobs – the new unisex toilet at the south end of the reserve, a new pergola and patio as part of the camp kitchen, a boom gate for the park entry and more fencing work within the site.
Call on pet owners
Council has thrown its support behind the 10th annual National Desexing Month in an effort to urge pet owners to neuter their animals and avoid unwanted litters of puppies and kittens.
The public awareness campaign, run by the National Desexing Network, involves more than 2,200 veterinary clinics around the country, all councils and hundreds of community organisations.
During July, participating vet clinics will offer special deals to encourage community members to desex their pets before the spring breeding season.
The Boort Veterinary Clinic will be one of those.
Owner Dr Patricia O’Sullivan said this year was the first time the practice had been involved in the campaign.
“There’s no large welfare organisation such as the RSPCA or sizeable animal shelter in Loddon, so the onus tends to fall on clinics like ourselves and Council,” Patricia said.
“Whenever I’m vaccinating kittens and puppies, I always try to encourage owners to desex their pets before they have their first litter.
“The rates offered during July are far below what would normally be charged for these services, so it really is an effort underpinned by charitable and welfare motives.
“We will be following the rates recommended by the National Desexing Network – $70 for a male cat and $100 for a female, while male dogs will range from $115 to $140 and females from $150 to $185.
“From any point of view, it’s really important there aren’t lots of unwanted cats and dogs around.”
Council’s local laws officers have also strongly backed the initiative, saying their problems with unwanted cats and dogs soak up far too much valuable time and resources.
For more details, go to www.ndn.org.au or phone the Boort Veterinary Clinic on 5455 2031.