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Bass Coast Boundaries Decision

A request from the Phillip Island Municipal Review Committee for a review of Shire boundaries was declined at this week’s Bass Coast Shire Council meeting.

By Bass Coast Shire Council - 25th September 2001 - Back to News

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A request from the Phillip Island Municipal Review Committee for a review of Shire boundaries was declined at this week’s Bass Coast Shire Council meeting. After considering the information provided by the Municipal Review Committee, Council unanimously voted that a review was not in the best interests of the whole municipality.

Bass Coast Shire Council Mayor, Cr Miranda Sage explained that Council fully considered the Committee’s request that Council ask the Minister for Local Government to appoint a Local Government Review Panel.

"However, the Committee failed to demonstrate that there are sufficient grievances for the Council to justify the cost of extensive community consultation and further research on the subject," said Cr Sage. "Council also noted that the Committee has not been able to demonstrate that a separate municipal entity would provide for a more effective and efficient form of government for the area currently governed by Bass Coast Shire Council."

"Since receiving the request, Council has endeavoured to work with the Committee to discuss issues and resolve any problems that they indicated," said Cr Sage. "Our aim is to work together with our communities."

In a report read to Council at Wednesday’s (19 September) Council meeting, Cr Sage, Mayor explained that since receiving the request Council had met with the Municipal Review Committee on 9 July to hear and discuss issues. Members of the committee spoke to three papers.

After the meeting, Council requested copies of the papers for Councillors to consider. Council also sought clarification from the Committee about the issues that had led to its request for a review and how the Committee believes a review of municipal boundaries would resolve those issues.

The Committee did not provide any further information and suggested that Council should bear the cost of any studies.

The Minister for Local Government, the Honourable Bob Cameron MP, advised the Committee on 1 June that he would not consider a proposal for a review of municipal boundaries unless the Committee convinced Council of the necessity of the review. Only if all of Council supported a review, would it proceed. The Minister also stated that Council must consider the following criteria before making a decision:

  • The impact of any proposal on the accessibility to and the effective and efficient delivery of local government services in the areas affected bet the proposal.
  • The financial impact of any proposal on the residents within the Shire.
  • The fact that the Bass Coast community had been adequately consulted on the proposal and there is broad community support for change.
  • Cr Sage explained that the Committee had not convinced Council a review would be advantageous to the people of Bass Coast, and that Council had given consideration to each of the Ministers preconditions before coming to its decision.

    "The Minister outlined that we must consider the impact on the delivery of services to residents and there is no doubt that the creation of Bass Coast Shire permitted economies of scale to be achieved, said Cr. Sage. This has meant Council has been able to expand existing services and introduce new services to all residents."

    "There are a wide variety of new services and increased levels of service that simply would not be possible with smaller Shires," she said.

    These include:
    · Increased home and community care services for elderly and disabled residents.
    · Expanded environmental programs including catchment management, weed eradication and support of local community environmental groups.
    · Increased support of arts and cultural activities in the Shire
    · Establishment of an economic development program to support local business development
    · Development of strategic plans in consultation with the community to guide Council decision making and improve access to Government grants
    · Development of a maternal and child health outreach service
    · Development of a community based childcare service
    · Expenditure targeted at reducing the backlog of infrastructure needs (eg. roads/drainage) and providing basic community facilities not previously provided (eg. Cowes Cultural Centre).

    "Community satisfaction surveys conducted by the State Government and by independent researchers commission by Council show an increasing level of satisfaction with most Council services," said Cr Sage. "A review of boundaries would almost certainly negatively impact on the provision of services to our community."

    Cr Sage explained that the Minister had requested that the financial impact of any proposal on the residents within the Shire should be considered.

    "An assessment of Council’s financial performance over the past six years indicates that Council has increased the range of services available while keeping costs under control, as demonstrated by only modest rate increase," said Cr Sage. "This is coupled with record capital expenditure programs plus the fact that Council has secured a record amount of government grants for the Shire."

    "The Committee failed to provide evidence that disaggregation will give people of the Shire better outcomes," she said.

    The final criteria outlined by the Minister was that there must be wide community support and consultation about any changes.

    "The Committee’s request was canvassed widely in the local newspaper, but the limited response received by Councillors suggests little support for the Committee’s request," said Cr. Sage. "The issue does not appear to have aroused community interest or awareness in other parts of the Shire."

    "In fact, what correspondence and comment we have received has been support of Bass Coast Shire remaining intact," she said.

    "Although the request of the Committee has been declined, Council is still keen to work with the Committee and other members of the community towards resolving any issues.

    The Mayor met with the Honourable Bob Cameron, Minister for Local Government, yesterday to discuss the request.

    "Bass Coast Shire have demonstrated a willingness to work with all the communities that make up the municipality and that is to be commended", Minister Cameron said.

    "They have responded to enquiries about changes to the structure of the Shire in a measured and constructive way, and I understand that they will not be approaching me to consider any boundary changes.

    Our approach to boundary issues has been clear. We support Councils in engaging their communities about where things are working and how services and Council processes can be improved.

    I will only consider appointing a Panel to investigate boundary changes following a joint approach by a Council along with their community, with a suitable plan that has the broad support of all involved", he said.

    A letter regarding Council’s decision was sent to the Municipal Review Committee today.

    For more information contact: Carol McCormack, Communications Co-ordinator

    Ph: 5671 2296 Mobile: 0407 557 620 Fax: 5671 2222


    Source: www.gippsland.com

    Published by: basscoastshire@gippslander.com



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