St Arnaud feeling left out following NGSC meeting.

FEELING FORGOTTEN: Some St Arnaud residents feel there needs to be more consultation between the Northern Grampians Shire Council and the community.

FEELING FORGOTTEN: Some St Arnaud residents feel there needs to be more consultation between the Northern Grampians Shire Council and the community.

St Arnaud residents are feeling like the forgotten community of the Northern Grampians Shire Council.

Residents from the town are unhappy with the lack of communication and consultation between them and the council.

This follows the council’s decision to change parking restrictions along Napier Street without any consultation from the community. 

Resident were able to take up their grievances about the lack of communication at a regularly scheduled public council meeting on March 5 in St Arnaud.

During question time, which was extended on request to facilitate the large amount of residents wanting to speak to the council, residents asked how the council aimed to consult with the community in the immediate future in relation to Napier Street parking issue.

Council’s infrastructure and environment director Chris Adams explained the council meeting was the beginning of the consultation process, with council staff meeting face to face with businesses to seek their feedback.

Another resident asked if the council shared the same views as their CEO, Michael Bailey, in reference to a quote of his where he said: “We do not see open community meetings as a positive or effective way of engaging with the community and as such will not be providing either resources through staff attendance or funding to assist in that process.”

Councillor Murray Emerson, from the Stawell ward, agreed with Mr Bailey, saying public meetings were forums that had the potential to get out of hand.

Cr Emerson said, in his opinion, the best way to consult was face-to-face negotiation.

He continued, saying the council would be available to run workshops with the community.

Cr Emerson cited past workshops that he had held in Stawell that were helpful, in comparison to two public meeting that “were bad” and that “public meetings do not get us anywhere”. 

Northern Grampians Shire mayor Tony Driscoll also said running community workshops was something the council would consider.

St Arnaud had previously held successful community workshops back in 2001, which has given locals hope that their issues may be heard.

Councillor Merrilee Reid of the Kara-Kara Ward, told Stawell Times-News that while the community may currently be disillusioned, they would be meeting with community members very soon to help rectify these issues, and further strengthen their town.