Mayoral Column 9 June 2014

Published on 09 June 2014

Canberra trip a ‘must-do’

Loddon Shire will have four determined advocates in Canberra next week when the latest National General Assembly of Local Government convenes at the National Convention Centre.

Using the theme of “Getting Down to Business”, the assembly opens next Sunday night with an informal welcome and reception and closes on Wednesday week after three days of speeches, panel discussions, workshops and debates.

Speakers listed to appear include Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Local Government Julie Collins, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss.

Representing Loddon’s interests in Canberra will be Crs Beattie and Curnow and myself, as well as Council CEO John McLinden.

Matters being attended to while the assembly is running are as important as the assembly itself.

As members of the Murray River Group of Councils, we have already secured meetings with Mr Truss and our federal MPs and will seek further talks with other ministers and advisors whose portfolios touch on matters relevant to us.

It’s conversations such as these with our nation’s key decision-makers which get to the nub of the issues we wrestle with.

In all our discussions, both programmed and informal, we will be attempting to advocate clearly for the priorities of this region.

The conference is a great opportunity to hear from, and talk to, people whose thinking and decisions hold such sway over the Shire’s future directions.

Access project gathers pace

Plans to encourage more people with disabilities to take holidays in Loddon Shire have taken a firm step forward, with site visits under way to accommodation providers around the municipality.

The idea of compiling a list on each provider’s accessibility has been a joint project between Council’s Disability Inclusion Officer, Jolie Middleton, and the Shire’s tourism staff.

A community reference group was formed last year comprising four volunteers, Jolie, Tourism Manager Robyn Vella, Tourism Officer Sandra Steel and an occupational therapist from Radius Disability Services in Bendigo.

“The purpose is not only to look at issues of physical access, but also access to information about those providers and how that information gets out,” Jolie said.

“The group developed a checklist for accommodation business owners to complete, covering such areas as car parking, reception, general access, ease of information, bathroom and bedroom access and extra services available.

“So far, we’ve visited six accommodation providers and the feedback from them has been very positive – most were surprised at the simplicity of what they had to change.

“We’re now offering to visit others over the coming month, after which the checklist we’re using will be made available at Loddon’s Visitor Services and on the Council website.

“Owners who take part will certainly be promoting their businesses to a much broader customer base, with one in five Australians now known to have a disability.

“This figure does not even include those who have a temporary disability due to injury or illness at any given time.

“People with disabilities are loyal customers for establishments which cater for their needs – and that means a large amount of return visits and additional business through word of mouth promotion.”

To request a visit, or for further information, please phone Jolie on a Monday or Tuesday on 5494 1200 or email jmiddleton@loddon.vic.gov.au

Plans up for comment

As reported in this column last week, Council has proposed some changes to the way it manages the roads under its jurisdiction and now wants to hear from you.

The Shire’s revised Road Management Plan is available for public comment until Friday 4 July.

The plan is concerned not only with roads, but also the municipality’s footpaths and bridges – basically, how Council inspects, repairs and maintains these assets.

The amended Road Management Plan can be inspected at the Council offices in Wedderburn or Serpentine, at local post offices or at www.loddon.vic.gov.au

Written submissions should be addressed to the Chief Executive Officer, Loddon Shire Council, PO Box 21, Wedderburn Vic. 3518, or else through a form on the website.

Metal art challenge

Calling all metal sculptors – here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor with an event that’s sure to grow and put yourself in the running for $4,000 in prize money.

Boort Sculpture by the Lake is a new, two-day event which aims to showcase metal art around the lake and showgrounds next October, in conjunction with the Boort Show.

Last year’s inaugural event attracted about 30 entries from artists within a 100km radius of the town.

Boort Development Committee president Rod Poxon said last week a $5,000 grant from Bendigo Regional Tourism, announced earlier this year, would be a great help in promoting the competition to a wider audience.

The gap of $1,000 is to be spent in the organisation and promotion of the event.

“Pieces can be any size, any weight or any design,” Rod said. “We have machinery which can help with unloading and removing any large sculptures submitted.

“We purchased the winning dragonfly entry from last year and hope to have two of John Piccoli’s works installed outside the showgrounds by October.”

For more details on the competition and to find an entry form, go to www.boortsculp.wordpress.com

For phone enquiries, please call Isabel Loader on 0427 554 240 or Paul Haw on 0417 333 171.

Council has regularly supported the Boort Show over recent years with a $1,000 grant for advertising and promotion under its annual Events Sponsorship Scheme.

A place to chill

The next FreeZa event in Loddon Shire, a “Glow Disco”, will take place next Saturday (14 June) at Wedderburn town hall, from 7.30pm to 11.30pm.

These alcohol and drug-free nights are organised by Shire Recreation Officer Tony Bellenger and committees of local students.

Entry costs $10.  For more details, phone Tony on 5494 1200.