Council criticism ‘not warranted’

Cr Ben Shaw.

CRITICISM of the Derwent Valley Council’s decision to replace regional council meetings with community forums is unwarranted, Derwent Valley mayor Ben Shaw has said in a Facebook post.

While sharing a council Facebook post that announced next week’s regional forum at Westerway, Cr Shaw said “most people only look at a headline or a comment from someone’s personal opinions and then off they go without looking at all the details.”

“At last month’s meeting we voted on changing up how we do regional community engagement,” Cr Shaw said in his post, noting that under previous councils the only engagement some regional areas had experienced was a council meeting in one of the areas every three months. “But honestly, in my five years on council I can say it was really not very engaging and honestly not ever relevant within those communities,” he said.

“I truly think this is a great initiative and thank Councillor Browning for bringing it up as a motion recently. I’ve heard criticism around this move and … I will say that is not fair or warranted. Let’s try something different. We don’t have great engagement in those communities now, so let’s try something new?

“I have always and always will be firmly in the camp of moving on form the old adages, ‘But that’s the way we’ve always done it’ or ‘we’ve done it this way for years.’ I hear this in our community and I make no apology for trying to be someone who is backing in some change, because you know what, in most instances the old ways of doing things have not served us well!”

Cr Shaw asked how anyone who had read the council’s post could possibly say the council was restricting access. “I would say quite the opposite,” he said. “Anyway I urge the Upper Derwent residents to get along and have a chat about relevant things in your specific area, catch up and ask questions of your elected members and staff in an informal setting.

“Change should not be feared but embraced, we can always go back to the old ways if it doesn’t work. See you there,” Cr Shaw said. Deputy mayor Jessica Cosgrove congratulated Cr Shaw on his remarks. “Well said,” she said in a response posted online.

The council posted on Facebook on Wednesday afternoon that a Westerway Community Forum would be held at 6pm next Tuesday, February 18, in the Westerway Hall, for updates and to be involved in discussions about:

  • Derwent Catchment Project works including: Willow Warriors program, environmental Working Bees and Workshops, Tyenna Flood Plans and other projects
  • Glenora Rd works
  • Speed limit consultations on Glenora Rd and Cawthorns Lane
  • Westerway Primary School Hundred Year Celebrations
  • Westerway Hall upgrade
  • Public discussion time.

The post said councillors and staff would be in attendance to take questions from the community.

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