LIVE: Bendigo council meeting

Reporter William Vallely will be tweeting and posting a live video on Facebook of the council meeting from 6pm. Follow him on @williamvallely or watch the live stream here

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8.30pm A motion to not support Bendigo Stadium’s application to install 44 poker machines at the Wellington Hotel was passed by councillors, with Cr Andrea Metcalf the only opposer.

8.20pm On the application, Cr Andrea Metcalf offers some insightful balance to the argument, namely that local government has very little influence on the eventual decision of the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liqour Regulation.    

Cr Metcalf said since 2012, the VCGLR had 138 hearings for poker machine applications, 131 of which – or 95 per cent – were approved. 

Eighty of those decisions were opposed by local governments at the VCGLR hearings, where, according to Cr Metcalf, 75 were approved. 

Bendigo, under current legislation, can have a maximum of 756 machines, Cr Metcalf said. 

It currently has 641, meaning the application, if successful, would take the number of machines to 685.

“We should have no position on it, which is why I will be voting against the current recommendation (to not support the application by Bendigo Stadium),” Cr Metcalf said.

8.10pm Bendigo stadium’s application to install 44 poker machines at the Wellington Hotel is being debated by councillors. 

A report by City of Greater Bendigo social planner Lindy Wilson has recommended the council not support Bendigo Stadium’s bid, suggesting the application would have a negative effect on the community. 

Cr Alden said: “The checklist of harm from pokies is extensive.” 

“People with gambling problems can experience a wide range of harm, including physical and mental. 

“We (Australia) have 20 per cent of the world’s gambling machines despite having 0.3 per cent of the population. 

“When sporting clubs are sponsored by the proceeds of gambling then that is of great community concern.

“It’s our (councillors) responsibility to stand up for those who are unable to stand up for themselves. 

“Council is the only avenue to act on the communities behalf. 

“How can we support the sporting clubs off the pokies teat?”

7.46pm Councillors discussing the results of the community engagement survey for Plan Greater Bendigo – a development plan detailing a number of ‘transformational’ infrastructure projects designed to cater for a population of 200,000 by 2050.

Story: http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/4736867/water-courts-a-concern-for-residents/

7.00pm Budget endorsed by councillors, with a few additions (below).

Cr Fyffe said it was a “responsible” budget, but the rate rise of two per cent, which was mandated by the state government, was “laughable” given Bendigo was a growing community.  

He said the budget does address the ongoing issues the region has, and the capital works program, valued at $58.4 million, would “provide a substantial circulation of money within the community that will help people get jobs”.  

Major additions to the draft budget that councillors will consider for funding

  • Ironbark Gully Trail and Linear Reserve: Design plan for Phase 1 of Concept Plan  $50,000  
  • White Hills Football Netball Club – Lighting project $200,000  
  • Skate Parks design  – Epsom and Kangaroo Flat  $60,000  
  • O'Keefe Rail Trail: $16,000  funds top two priorities – two water stations $16,000  
  • Outdoor Perform ance space (feasibility study only) $10,000  
  • Heathcote Footbridge design $40,000  Strathfieldsaye Community Hub (detailed design – Bowls Club) $100,000  
  • Events for Children and Families – Family Fun Days $10,000  
  • Art Gallery Library Shelve Upgrade $5,720         

6.45pm Councillors voted to adopt the community plan 2017-2021.

Speaking of the community plan, councillor Yvonne Wrigglesworth said: Without a document we see here tonight we do no justice to our community.” 

“I’m pleased our rural communities will benefit, including the completion of Raywood recreation reserve masterplan, the Heathcote integrated services project and addressing blackspots. 

“We haven’t forgotten our rural communities.”

Cr Jennifer Alden said: “It’s a lofty aspiration to make Bendigo the world’s most liveable community.”

Cr Fyffe said the plan, which has gone through a lot of revision, is aiming for “something a bit different this year”.    

Mayor Margaret O’Rourke said the plan had the largest amount of consultation than ever before, claiming it was more “readable”, with less “weasel words”. 

6pm Welcome to our live blog of the City of Greater Bendigo council meeting. Public gallery looking pretty full, plenty to discuss tonight.