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18 June, 2022

Committees scrapped

Gilgandra Shire Council has voted to discontinue two committees

By Emily Middleton

Perhaps this reporter may have buried the lead on the scrapping of council committees in the May 10 edition of The Gilgandra Weekly, when reporting on the April ordinary council meeting.

Further to our initial report, council last week scrapped the Sports Council, joining the previously reported dropped Tooraweenah Management Committee.

It was resolved and moved, as the council minutes state, that “the meeting schedule for the Sports Council be changed to six monthly, with council staff meeting collectively with the sports groups to consult or discuss planned upgrades, management issues and bookings”.

However, in an email sent to Sports Council members last week from council, it clearly reads that “council has determined to no longer have a Sports Council committee”.

It then goes on to state that the “council will instead meet with council facility ‘user groups’ twice each year”.

Former Sports Council member, Jon Kilby, is not impressed by this new move, and has raised concerns that the Sports Council were not consulted.

“They could have discussed this with the Sports Council, we just want reassurance that we will have involvement, but now it just seems it will be one person against council,” said Mr Kilby.

“I’m concerned that if there is no Sports Council, then user groups won’t have much of a voice.

“My understanding of user groups is that they are quite supportive of each other and projects, but now they wont even be able to get into a room to discuss projects and planning.

“The Sports Council had a councillor on board, so if we voted on things, that councillor would then take our concerns to the meetings. This just feels like the power has been taken off the user groups.”

Mr Kilby has outlined that the issue with not having a Sports Council can be seen through other councils without one.

“I know of a few but for example Warren Shire Council don’t have a Sports Council, and they don’t have any say on what happens to their facilities.”

In the May 10 edition of The Gilgandra Weekly, a recommendation regarding the Tooraweenah Management Committee from the April ordinary council meeting was printed. It stated that “in lieu of continuing the Tooraweenah Management Committee, council staff commence a consultative process with the community to develop a Tooraweenah Plan of Management”.

At the conclusion of each council term, all committees are disbanded, according to the Gilgandra Shire Council business paper from April 2022.

Traditionally, council has appointed a number of committees to consider and recommend to council on the management of various activities. However, there is now concern for Tooraweenah’s affairs.

“I am saddened to hear that our traditional sub-committee is to be disbanded,” said Lester Thurston, an avid member of the former Tooraweenah Management Committee.

“I’m disappointed, I’m sure the new plan will be fine, but we needed that connection to the council for things to get done. Let’s hope the new consultative sessions will be more beneficial to our town.”

Mr Thurston received an email last week from council, as all other committee members did, regarding the change of format.

The email stated, “moving forward, and taking account of a suggestion put forward at the community consultation session in Tooraweenah, council will not be reappointing a Tooraweenah Management Committee in its previous format. Rather, council staff will conduct a consultative process with the community to develop a Tooraweenah Plan of Management over the 2022-23 financial year”

In response, Mr Thurston shared the importance of the committee, and its humble beginnings from many years ago.

“I would like to acknowledge the six original people that stood on the original committee many years ago, which led us to where we are now. Geoff Rohr and John Bull (Tooraweenah Recreation Ground committee), Ian Cruickshank and myself (Tooraweenah War Memorial Hall), and Jim Winter and Hugh Macadam (Tooraweenah Lions Club).”

Gilgandra Shire Council’s general manager David Neeves, summarised in the April council meeting business paper, that the Tooraweenah Management Committee meeting minutes “suggest that there are relatively minor matters considered concerning Tooraweenah which could be better addressed annually or through customer requests”.

It stated that “the suggestion is not to reappoint this committee; rather replace it with a consultative process with staff working with the community to develop a ‘Tooraweenah Plan of Management’, reviewed annually, with projects and operational matters put forward for consideration during budget deliberations”.

However, some committee members disagree that some matters that have been discussed and solved would be considered ‘minor’.

“That (original) committee made recommendations to council and were able to use savings in the annual budget to do various capital works in addition to the council’s maintenance of the village,” said Mr Thurston.

“A few examples of those were the fence around the oval (involving the Tooraweenah Lions Club and cricket club), murals on the toilets (Kath Rohr and Betty Bull), and the picket fence and painting at the aerodrome (lions club and community helpers).

“The community, individuals, and clubs could be directly involved in the betterment of our community assets. It gave our community ownership of our town.”

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