The 2012 Gosford City Council elections are just over a month away, and the field is more open than usual with four of the outgoing councillors not standing again. These are interesting times as is often said in politics.
The recent departure of the General Manager Peter Wilson, the forthcoming departure of Terry Thirlwell, Director of Community Services and Organisational Development, some shuffling of chairs in the Planning Department and other changes in Council staffing, point to this as being one of the few moments in local affairs when some changes might be possible, in the direction taken by elected representatives, and the culture within the administrative branch. Many hope this to be the case.
On The Gosford Times blog we will try to provide as much information as possible in the lead-up to the election on the 8th of September, including candidate’s policies and party publicity.
Local newspaper coverage in the past has been less than satisfactory in bringing information needed to make an informed choice, particularly in regard to minor groups and independents. Consequently we invite those who so wish to send material for posting and, within the usual constraints, we will publish same.
To start with, the new grouping of independents consisting of Peter Freewater, Gary Jackson, Ian Sutton, Jake Cassar, Ingrid Hasler, Nikki Freeburn, David Benwell, David Leggett and Kay Williams.
Major Policies of the Central Coast Alliance (From their website)
The Central Coast Alliance Candidates are committed to giving the community a voice, connecting the community, the revitalisation of Gosford CBD, investment in infrastructure and sustainable resource management.
Giving the community a voice - We stand for open, honest governance and we want to ensure the community is well connected and their voices are not only heard bur their values directly influence the actions of Council. This means real consultation that educates and informs so as to create a level playing field for input into Council's decision-making processes.
Connecting Community - We'll be involving local business in community development, supporting opportunities for Men's Sheds, Community Gardens and other social networks that bring our seniors and youth together to promote harmony and respect in our community. We see our schools as focal points for the community and opportunities for us to engage in a variety of community based projects. We will be supporting existing community based groups such as sporting clubs, RSL's, progress associations, Surf Life Saving, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, Masonic groups Scouts, Guides, musical and theatrical societies, etc. These community groups that are usually made up of selfless volunteers often form the backbone of community and are the glue that can bind us together for the prosperity of all. We will be engaging with these groups and looking for opportunities to add value to the important contributions they already make.
Revitalisation of Gosford CBD - We will revitalise Gosford and see the city return to the thriving metropolis it once was. The waterfront can be developed to promote tourism without the loss of community access and amenity. There has always been a strong interest in a marina development and we will allow this to happen. We will provide the incentives for more retail shops, live entertainment venues and restaurants around the marina. We will encourage a variety of accommodation developments including backpackers to bring visitors of all ages. We will provide incentives for a range of tourism ventures across the greater Gosford region. We have a great wealth of natural and cultural heritage that can be used to make Gosford a hub for both international visitors and weekenders from Sydney and Newcastle. We will bring back Old Sydney Town or if that's not entirely possible we can create something very similar right in the heart of Gosford, perhaps with a maritime theme. We will have historic walks that celebrate our rich colonial beginnings and our indigenous past. We will support festivals like the Flora Festival, the Oyster Festival, music and multicultural festivals. We will bring people to our parks for open-air markets and carnivals. With our beautiful waterways and forests, Gosford is primed for a range of passive or adventure style eco-tourism attractions and we will provide seed funding to see local initiatives get started. We want to make Gosford a vibrant place where young and old want to be and where jobs for our kids can be sustained long into the future.
Investment in Infrastructure - Gosford Council has billions of dollars in liquid assets. We are not in debt, we are not 'cash strapped'; we have billions available in cash investments that can be drawn upon at short notice. This is our money that is supposed to be spent on fixing roads, curb and guttering and other essential services. We will access this money and reinvest it in these essential community services. In doing so we will create other employment opportunities. We will support local businesses and smarten up our streetscapes. We will provide confidence for investors and developers and support these initiatives with the road networks and the other vital services that Councils are supposed to provide. Yes, we have to spend a little money to make money, but we will do it prudently with sound economic advice from financial experts. We will look to Wyong Council for further opportunities to share services and reduce the costs to both Councils.
A statement incorporating the agenda’s of 10 independents will always be general and lack details about specific measures to be pursued to achieve the outcomes outlined.
It is good to see recognition of the needs of the farming community of the Mangrove Mountain Districts, the importance of a strong and connected community with REAL engagement in direction setting, and the significance of heritage and identity as a foundation for economic vitality.
However when reading their plans for a revitalised, vibrant, thriving Gosford metropolis (one assumes no irony intended) I felt a lack of coherence, due perhaps from the Alliance wanting to meet some of the objectives of the unsatisfactory Waterfront proposal as well as a plethora of heritage and other desires of the community ignored by the current plan.
Tourism, festivals, theme parks, sport and other entertainments and diversions are frequently trotted out as solutions to everything, but only a diverse productive local base will provide sustainability.
One would like to see more recognition of cultural production as a core factor in building a city.
Perhaps more detail will be found in statements by individual candidates, and clarified as the campaign progresses, however it is encouraging to see the emergence of a collective campaign with policies that would give new life to Council.