Heart of the matter

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 08-Dec-2017

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While it’s easy for the community to kick the City of Greater Bendigo to the kerb over the Hargreaves Mall, it’s important we all realise that council is only the caretaker of public spaces. 


Council is certainly an enabler when it comes to central Bendigo, but does not own any retail spaces. 


The City of Greater Bendigo has a significant role to play in what happens in the heart of our city, and carries a major responsibility for this, but the work must be shared.


For example, recently there’s been a lot of preparatory work done on a new CBD retail strategy to be considered in the New Year, and while this has been a long time coming, it also offers hope for more positive times ahead.


Traders remain optimistic; they have worked hard to provide a service to the community, and they deserve our support.


One of the significant challenges Bendigo faces when it comes to trying to drive positive change, is the sheer number of property owners, tenants, associated organisations and other interested parties involved in what goes on in the CBD.


The traditional retail model has changed a lot during the past decade or two, but by comparison, retailing in the centre of Bendigo has not.


Myer remains an anchor of the CBD, and it starts to get complicated when you consider ownership of the generous amount of space the retail giant occupies is shared between as many as three different landlords as well as Myer itself.


Probably one the simplest, and most effective things we can all do in the next couple of weeks is to visit the mall, support a local trader and help kick start a community led rejuvenation. 


Speaking of rejuvenation, Craig Niemann’s re-appointment as chief executive officer of the City of Greater Bendigo should rejuvenate him, and the organisation he leads.


There’s no doubt the past few months would have been a testing and stressful time for Mr Niemann and his family, but his decision to seek another term, and the council’s subsequent decision to offer him that opportunity only after testing the water to see who else might also have something to offer, means that he can now get on with the job, and the long list of projects he wants to complete.


There was always a risk associated with opting for an outsider that Bendigo could lose some of the considerable momentum we have been able to generate over the past decade, and it’s only fair part of that momentum, and the city’s many successes, be attributed to Mr Niemann and the organisation he leads.


Bendigo is always very quick to apportion blame, and to point out failures of the council, and there have been incidents and situations where this was warranted, but we struggle to celebrate the good times as well as we acknowledge the bad.


That’s a pity, but it’s also not unique to Bendigo.


We would all do well to ty and focus on the positive things we want for Bendigo and how we can help make them happen, because most things are more easily achieved when people work together, rather than against one another.   


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