Country council meetings face the chop

Cr Luke Browning discussing his proposal
at last night’s council meeting.

THE Derwent Valley Council will investigate the merits of continuing its longstanding practice of holding several council meetings outside New Norfolk each year.

At last night’s council meeting, Cr Luke Browning successfully moved that the council “note” next year’s meeting roster instead of adopting it, and requested a report investigating the potential for all future council meetings to be held in the New Norfolk Courthouse.

“I really want to see some value added when we go to these regional communities and have these meetings,” Cr Browning said. “I don’t feel like either parties are really getting good substance and a good bit of information because quite often the Agenda has nothing actually in it around the regional community.”

The council has, for more than a decade, held its formal council meetings at various venues outside New Norfolk on several occasions each year. The frequency was increased to three meetings each year, to allow for Westerway, Granton, Bushy Park, Molesworth, Maydena and Lachlan to be visited  every two years, with a 30 minute community forum being held immediately before the formal council meeting.

Cr Browning said he favoured separating the council meetings from the community forums. Instead, he would like to see the forums planned for Westerway, Granton and Molesworth next year to be held under a different format in conjunction with scheduled “listening posts and other communications strategies addressing specific topics for that regional area.”

He said properly organised regional meetings could include guest speakers and training opportunities. “You can do all sorts and it doesn’t have to be at that set time, you could canvas the communities and see what days [and] what times could be better. I just want to see a bit more value in what we are doing when we make these trips.”

Deputy mayor Jessica Cosgrove said the proposal was a sensible move that she would be supporting. “When I have gone out to the regions with our council group I have noticed that we would be lucky to get at least one question at times from members of that region and it just seems to me like a bit of a waste of time that we could be using in a more productive way.”

No other councillors spoke to the motion, which was seconded by Cr Martyn Evans. Closing the debate, Cr Browning said he was seeking an investigation and report. “I don’t want to see anything removed until we have that appropriate substitution. I’m not looking to remove these regionals without replacing it with something better.”

The motion was carried unanimously and the report is expected to be received next month.

Last night’s council meeting was attended by all councillors with the exception of Cr Paul Belcher who was an apology. Cr Frank Pearce arrived late due to his flight being delayed due to weather conditions at Hobart Airport.

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