REGION - Late last month, Northern Grampians Shire councillors and staff had a productive meeting with Planning Minister Matthew Guy in Stawell.
During his visit, Minister Guy outlined some changes that have been made to reduce 'red tape' around planning matters.
Most importantly, reforms around Place of Public Entertainment (POPE) requirements will reduce costs and other associated compliance matters for groups running events that will bring social and economic benefits to the community.
Minister Guy has also introduced a 'flying squad' which travels around Victoria and assists councils with a backlog of planning requests and other issues.
As a result of Minister Guy's actions, council has been able to move on a future residential land development which will deliver economic benefits to all, particularly to Stawell industries and retail sectors including building, building supply, home furnishings, electrical and white goods.
It is pleasing to see the Victorian Government cutting back on red tape and allowing council to deliver projects that will strengthen the future of our communities.
Council has commissioned a study into all matters relating to sport, recreation and open space. The purpose of the study is to find out which sports and outdoor activities our communities participate in and what they think of the facilities.
The information collected during the Open Space, Sport and Recreation Strategy consultation period will give council an insight into the future needs of local sporting competitions and clubs and how we may be able to assist.
The consultation will help council and clubs with long term planning. A number of meetings have been facilitated to give residents an opportunity to have their say.
Surveys and submission forms have also been made available to all residents, sporting clubs and groups.
Sport and recreational facilities are important to the health and wellbeing of future generations and we want to make sure the ones provided are needed and wanted by Northern Grampians Shire residents.
As part of our commitment to communities, council provides services and staff who work with local sporting bodies and community groups to assist with obtaining funding grants from the state and federal governments.
If our officers know what the community wants, they can act swiftly to obtain the best outcome for the community when a funding opportunity comes along.
In other news, work has commenced on the new athletic track at Stawell's North Park. Council is replacing the surface of the track after it was extensively damaged by flood in December 2011.
New Zealand sports surface consultant Bob Jones, the leading expert in athletic tracks, had been engaged to manage the project and ensure the design and surfacing is compliant with Australian standards.
This is an exciting project and once the track is complete, Stawell will boast the best athletic facility in Western Victoria. This means North Park will be able to host state, and even national level, competition.