Dear Mayor West
Congratulations on your re-election as Mayor.
You said on the NBN News the other night, “It’s up to us to listen to what they say. If there is any truth in anything they’ve said, we need to follow up and find out why people feel this way”.
I am pleased that you will now listen to what your community is saying. I’m certain that many others will have questions they want answered. However, it is insulting to ask, as you do, if there is any truth in what we say. How can you listen when you have that thought which would undoubtedly colour your opinions?
I have written to you several times. I first addressed Council in November 2017 asking that the resolution to purchase Masters be rescinded. I thought Council’s desire to reject the proposed injection of jobs into our area was a huge mistake. You had hardly been in existence as a democratically elected council when you made that decision. Your IT and rate harmonisation wasn’t in operation (and still may not be) when you embarked on a multi-million dollar proposal which has upset a large proportion of your community.
I wrote to you at the end of December last year with my calculations regarding the cost of the relocation. At the time, I had reached a figure of just over $36 million. Your reply of 8th January 2019 said:
“Good morning Christine, I have been searching for an answer to your questions and find it difficult to achieve, not that your question lack detail it’s that they do not have balance;
the numbers, the percentage interest, the total costs are negative in their outlook, I am a far more positive individual and as much as I would like to debate this with you
I need to look to the debate around the chamber for this to move one way or the other.”
Since that email the costs have risen to around $40 million so my email wasn’t negative in its outlook.
You should not ignore the more than 10,000 signatures to the community petition which went to the Lower House of State Parliament recently. You and other councillors may say that it isn’t the majority of the community. However, the collection of the signatures wasn’t exhaustive. If we had continued, we would have increased the total; I am certain of that.
Please make publicly available all documents from March 2017 relating to the proposal to consolidate council operations to the former Masters building. This needs to be out on the open if you truly mean what you say about finding out why people feel the way they do.
Why did Council come to the community saying the proposal was going to cost $20 million?
Please put any further plans to consolidate operations on hold until there has been adequate community consultation about the increased cost of the consolidation proposal. Council must have a new financing strategy, since your last Cost Benefit Analysis increased the cost to around $40 million. By adequate consultation, I mean ensuring that the community is informed in good time, with all the facts and figures and in as many ways as possible. It should be included in the rates notice. You could be interviewed on the local news. You know that many people complained of not receiving any information last year about the consultations. Please take notice of what your community says in any consultation.
I am not a naysayer. I am not an antagonist. I am not negative in my outlook. I simply want my Council to look after its community. I want things to be open and transparent; that is the way to gain trust and support in any plans you have for our area.
I look forward to hearing from you.