Public comment invited on Northern Grampians strategy

NORTHERN Grampians Shire Council is calling on the public to provide comment on a draft Municipal Strategic Statement.

Council voted in favour of endorsing the draft Municipal Strategic Statement for public exhibition, after defeating an earlier motion moved by Cr Wayne Rice to defer the matter for a month.

Cr Rice said he did not believe he had been given enough time to digest the document and make an informed judgement.

However, fellow councillors were quick to point out that the MSS was discussed at great length during a council briefing session, from which Cr Rice was absent.

Cr Murray Emerson said it was just unfortunate Cr Rice could not take part in the prior discussions.

"I understand Cr Rice was not at the briefing," Cr Emerson said.

"If you can't make yourself available when these things are going on, if you have other things you have to do, then that's just the way it goes sometimes.

"We had quite a discussion on it, about two hours, at our last briefing session and a lot of the things were put in that all councillors had asked for.

"I know it's a long term document that's in place until 2041 and it's not the end of it right now. Because we move a motion tonight to put it out to public exhibition, doesn't mean we can't do something more with it as time goes along."

Cr Tony Driscoll said he felt it was a good idea to hear the views of the public.

"From my understanding, this is still a living document and I think it's a good idea to consult with our community," he said.

"We can receive input into this and change or enhance parts of it, to ensure that we grow our shire."

There are several key components within the Municipal Strategic Statement that relate to future development of the shire. There is a particular focus on how Stawell can continue to develop and grow, focusing on areas such as retail and tourism.

In the area of retail, some key strategies include:

Maintaining the central role of the Stawell commercial centre containing key retail activities, and the existing shopping precinct.

Encouraging commercial activity development and growth by enhancing the existing retail shopping precinct and developing bulky goods retailing and rural supplies and services along major roads including the Western Highway.

Cr Wayne Rice said he was not in favour of putting the document out to the public in its current form, as he believed they simply would not take the time to read it.

"I bet you London to a brick that if you put this document out like this, not one member of the public will pick this document up and have a look at it," Cr Rice said.

"They just don't know, they don't care.

"I certainly reflect back to when I was assisting a business to get started in Stawell, a fruit shop on the Western Highway, I got sent from document to document and finished up back with the Municipal Strategic Statement.

"If we go with this document as it currently sits and put it out to public consultation, there will be no comment. People aren't going to read it and they are not going to understand it.

"As councillors, we have to show leadership and put things in there that will promote some discussion."

Cr Wayne Rice.

Cr Wayne Rice.

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