THERE was a good turnout for last Saturday’s council election candidate forum at The Valley Sports Bar in New Norfolk. Sixteen of the 18 candidates for the Derwent Valley Council took part. Master of ceremonies Steve Balmforth and timekeeper Pat Murray kept the proceedings flowing and batted away any inflammatory questions and remarks. Each candidate spoke for two minutes and then had three minutes for questions from the floor. They were not permitted to question one another.
The proceedings were videoed by New Norfolk and Derwent Valley News. Questions from the gallery can be hard to hear in the recording but these are often repeated by the candidates when answering. So grab some popcorn and sit back and meet your candidates.
I attended this forum and was glad I did. I have lived at Lachlan since January 2000. My late partner Pat and I always loved the Derwent Valley and used to visit National Park and other areas regularly. The Derwent Valley has some of the most unique natural and heritage assets in the country and other Councils would give their “eye teeth” for such assets. Before Pat died in 2016 I used to attend Council meetings regularly and was a member of the Business Alliance. I still always read the online minutes. The thing we both noticed almost immediately was the complete lack of transparency by Council and the blurred relationship between some Councillors and management. Some years ago we took Council 3 times to Court over matters which they were legally required to resolve but which they didn’t. The Court found in our favour and was very critical of Council. But nothing seems to have changed as far as the culture of Derwent Valley Council is concerned. It always seemed to both of us that instead of Council Administration seeing it’s function as undertaking the necessary tasks to meet the expressed needs of the Derwent Valley community as directed via the Mayor and our elected Councillors it was a case of the “tail wagging the dog”. The disgusting state of the toilets in Arthur Square (and I’m told also elsewhere) is an example. I reported this to Council months ago as I know others did but nothing has still been done to fix the problem – at the forum Mayor Dracoulis seemed to accept that Council’s plumber could call the shots and decide if and when the toilets would be fixed. Unbelievable!!
I will be thinking very carefully about whom I vote for at the upcoming election and I strongly urge other eligible voters to do likewise. I have respect for some of our current Councillors but believe we need new faces on Council. We need Councillors who will ensure that Council functions in the interests of the whole community in an open and transparent way and especially ensures that Council Administration clearly understands its role. Many people in the Valley are doing it tough.
Mark Bennett, Lachlan
Great forum, well done to organisers Steve and Pat, well done to the 16 candidates who participated and despite some of the questioners seemingly needing to push their own barrow, the majority of questions were pertinent and well worth the asking. Many thanks to the venue proprietor too for providing the venue free and we hope you made a few bucks from the bar sales!
Ngaire Glover – Molesworth
Great work to all involved. I thank you. Respectful debate informs and invites participation, conflicts and personal attacks only divide and lose trust in process, we turn away and don’t want to be involved.
I gained a new insight into the fact that to be a councillor you need to be nimble in thought. A personal opinion or perspective cannot be the focus of issues. You need to have the facts in front of you, listen to others and then vote on the issue. My perspective on the council meetings I listened to over the last few years is that the debate has happened outside of meetings and minds are made up, decisions made and passed without adequate explanation of the reasoning behind the decision.
I believe the forum gave great insight into the nimbleness of candidates.
Leah Byers, New Norfolk
While Justin is promoting himself, a bit of humility might be in order – he was JOINT Senior Citizen of the the year, with an unsung underpaid teacher.