Gregson takes on councillors

Sharon Kemp | Bendigo Weekly | 12-Aug-2016

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THE seeming inability of City of Greater Bendigo councillors to act respectfully has forced a brain drain from executive offices at Lyttleton Terrace, according to former councillor Wayne Gregson who this week announced his nomination for another four-year stint.

Mr Gregson served as a councillor from 2004 to 2008 and was, until recently, electoral officer for Member for Northern Victoria Damian Drum which made him ineligible to serve in local government.

But he said he was motivated to try for the October 22 election in the Whipstick ward by the nomination of Bendigo businesswoman Margaret O’Rourke, and because he was disappointed by some of his fellow
nominees.

“Having a look at some of the people who are putting their hand up, I think some of them would not be good for council,” he told the Bendigo Weekly, adding that the role of councillors was to build on the work that had already been done.

Mr Gregson said the behaviour of some existing councillors bordered on “verbal bullying” and had caused the departure of some council executives who, whenever they had to be replaced, cost ratepayers more money.

Kennington resident and speech pathologist Susie Hawke also put her hand up this week as a contender in the Eppalock ward.

Ms Hawke said the focus of her campaign was to raise the profile of children and families in the municipality.

“Local government is more than the old triple R (of) roads, rates and rubbish,” Ms Hawke said.

“It’s also more than information technology, housing and small business.

“I agree these are all issues local councils need to support and advance, but I would like to make children and families a high priority.

“The City of Greater Bendigo has a Municipal Early Years Plan with six priority themes.

“I would like to keep the council accountable to following through on all of these priority areas as a child’s start in life determines future outcomes including health, wellbeing, educational achievement and employment
opportunities.”

IT businessman Vaughan Williams has been campaigning for election in the Lockwood ward on the back of transparency and accountability.

“We need a proper register of what work is being done,” he said, referring to how council could improve transparency.

Mr Williams said the register should include the project, the percentage of work that is complete and the budget.

Mr Williams, who has worked for the Brisbane City Council as well as private sector multinationals, said he had submitted a response to this year’s budget, particularly about “the major decrease in funds for road, bridges, footpaths and drainage”. His comparisons are over four years of budget projections.

Better management of finances would allow the council to operate over the next four years without a rate rise.

“There is considerable capacity within council over the next four years to effectively cap rates at a zero per cent rate rise or at most current CPI,” he said.

“Excessive top level bureaucracy and staffing resources and the need to better manage finances (are) impediments to council future financial viability.”

But there were prospects for creating jobs if big businesses could be convinced to move their headquarters here.

Bendigo has the enticement in the form of low rents and room to build.

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