How our councillors rate their progress - Dan Stewart, Division 5
LAST week we reminded Gympie region councillors, along with ourselves and our readers, what our representatives told us before we voted them in just over a year ago.
Now we publish what they say now about the ideals and values they expressed then.
Of 30 eager candidates who faced voters at the last Gympie Regional Council poll, there were only places for nine in the chamber (eight divisional councillors and the mayor).
They were answering questions which seemed at the time to sum up what people were asking us and which we had heard raised from the floor at candidates' forums.
The questions which we think retain the most continuing importance are:
1. What do you rate as the three top priorities for the current Gympie Regional Council?
2. What facilities and services does the Gympie region need more of?
3. What is your position on rates?
Their earlier answers told us what kind of candidates they were and what they stood for. One year on, their comments tell us how they think they and the council are going in achieving their objectives.
We continue now with the response of Dan Stewart, Division 5...
My three top priorities have not changed. Firstly, we need to work with business to ensure development applications are assessed in a timely manner taking regard for neighbours and the environment. Recently I advocated for a business in my area to overcome a negative assessment of their building application, whilst in another case advocated for a neighbour being adversely affected by a new development.
Secondly, I will keep pushing the boundaries for Council being open to residents and ratepayers. This has included discussions with staff about how to make community consultation more meaningful. I probably did more than others to encourage feedback on the draft Corporate Plan.
Thirdly, I will continue to work towards the finalisation of a roads plan and making it accessible, including listings of which roads are proposed for upgrades. Honesty is the best policy. For example, a resident asked about their gravel road. I gave them the unfortunate news it was not on the list of roads to be sealed in the next four years. That helped the resident to plan their future, instead of the false hope they had been given in the past. Meanwhile, I with other councillors will advocate for improved maintenance of our gravel roads in particular.
2. What facilities or services does the Gympie region need more of?
The current study being undertaken by consultants agreed to by Council and the hydrotherapy pool group should give a definitive answer as to the need of a Hydrotherapy pool.
The library is the most used council facility. It offers great programs for adults and children. The library plays a vital role in helping instil the love of reading and learning in children. More detailed designs are being drawn up for a new library and I will continue to push the project along. A new Gympie library will also improve services to the other libraries through greater efficiencies in inter-library loans.
I continue to work with councillors and staff on how we can improve rural roads in general, while advocating for the upgrade of particular roads. It is great to see the upgrade of Hall, Noose and East Deep Creek Roads among others.
3. What is your position on rates in this region?
Unless we reduce services, the only way to keep rate rises to inflation or below is to find efficiencies. We have been finding efficiencies in the area of waste management as we meet the challenge of tighter government regulation. We can continue to find efficiencies across the whole organisation.