Northern Grampians councillors showing leadership

ACCEPTING a move to allow the public to provide input into the future development of the Northern Grampians Shire, is a show of strong leadership, according to councillors.

Cr Murray Emerson applauded the leadership shown by fellow councillors.

Cr Murray Emerson applauded the leadership shown by fellow councillors.

Council voted in favour of endorsing the release of its Municipal Strategic Statement for public comment, thwarting a previous attempt to have the matter deferred for another month.

That attempt had been made by Cr Wayne Rice, who said it would not be showing good leadership from councillors, if they released the document in its current form.

However, the claim was disputed by Cr Murray Emerson, who successfully moved to have the MSS put out for public consultation.

"The leadership shown by those people voting for this is outstanding, because it is going to move this forward," Cr Emerson said.

"We have talked a lot lately about dark matter. I'm just a bit annoyed that Cr Rice might be suggesting we are lacking a bit of grey matter."

Cr Karen Hyslop said public input into such a document was vital.

"We really do need public input on this and that's exactly what we are doing," Cr Hyslop said.

"We have had a lot of discussion on this over the past six months and these discussions have included every councillor having a say on land use and development objectives for the Northern Grampians Shire, where we think development will occur and what areas we need to focus on for the long term viability of our shire.

"These are our views. What I would be interested in is getting the views of the public. I think it is important for the public to have input into this review and I would encourage all residents and businesses to have some input."

Cr Hyslop said residents now had four weeks in which to comment on the draft.

She said three community drop in sessions would be conducted in Stawell, St Arnaud and Halls Gap, while council officers would be working with several groups as well to explain what the review is about.

"There is one area that I'm a bit concerned about and that's the valley floor (Halls Gap). Other councillors have their concerns as well, but I really think a lot of this now has to come from the public.

"We've had our discussion and have discussed it at length over the last six months. Now it's time for the public to have their say.

"I really urge people to read it, because it's very important that they have their say. I for one will be very interested in receiving the public's input."

Cr Merrilee Reid agreed that council should be taking the step of asking the public to comment on the proposals contained within the Municipal Strategic Statement.

"I noted that this is not a finished document, but rather a living document," Cr Reid said.

"Feedback will still be obtained from the community following the draft.

"We will be gathering all the submissions together and these will go back to council for consideration. Following on from this, the MSS will then be taken back to council for final approval.

"In no less than four weeks, decisions can be made and feedback and information is readily accepted and appreciated."

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