‘Toxicity’ inspires second council bid

Second term: Wayne Gregson says disagreements between councillors inspired his second tilt at local elections. Picture: NONI HYETT
Second term: Wayne Gregson says disagreements between councillors inspired his second tilt at local elections. Picture: NONI HYETT

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Disharmony among the current crop of City of Greater Bendigo councillors, resulting in a number of costly conduct hearings during the past three years, has motivated a former councillor to again throw his hat into the ring.

Wayne Gregson served on the council between 2004 and 2008, and said during his time in office councillors did not need to resort to outside arbitration to settle differences.

“All of us didn’t always get on as well as we could have or should have, but we certainly never allowed our disagreements to become so toxic that they finish up in great big public hearings,” he said.

“Every time [the current] council appears to have a little spat they finish up in conduct hearings and it damages our reputation, not only as a council, but as a city and I think it also inhibits our economic momentum as well.

“There’s so much toxicity in the air at council meetings that I don’t think it’s possible for us to go on like this for too much longer.”

Mr Gregson nominated traffic and the arts as priorities if he is successful in the October 22 poll.

“I’m not sure yet whether we’ve learnt how to come to terms with city traffic,” he said.

“I’ve been watching this issue now for a long time, and I know there was an attempt to sort this out in the Bendigo transport study in the past few years, but I'm yet to see if that’s come up with any clear resolution on how to reduce the congestion in the CBD.”

Despite his criticisms, Mr Gregson backed the current council’s position on the direct election of the city’s mayor, saying he was “dead set against” the idea.

“I think people elect councillors to represent their own area and those people should be smart enough to elect a representative on behalf of the city,” he said.

Mr Gregson is a former editor of the Bendigo Advertiser and is currently the acting chief executive officer of Bendigo Heritage Attractions.

He previously worked as an electorate officer to former state upper house Member for Northern Victoria Damian Drum.