Forum to put focus on Bendigo council

A public forum is hoping to encourage criticism and debate of Bendigo council ahead of the local government elections.

Organiser Alan Howard said the public residents’ forum would be a chance for locals to review the council’s performance and voice their concerns.

He said the meeting would be a different format from tonight’s forum being run by the Bendigo Business Council and would “dig deeper” into the issues of council.

“It’s about asking questions and challenging council. I think it’s important people get the chance to talk about their concerns,” he said.

Mr Howard said the forum would be attended by a number of councillors and candidates, with a key address from Ted Coleman, who was one of the objectors to the Bendigo Gaol Theatre project.

Mr Howard said the decision to go ahead with the theatre development represented the “need for greater transparency” from the council.

“Many of the statements made and reasons given to justify the ‘sweeping aside the democratic process’, illustrate perfectly why residents need to be able to see the information and arguments they are not given.”

Mr Howard – a former Family First candidate for Bendigo in the 2010 federal election – said his plans for organising the public forum were inspired by a desire to provoke discussion.

He said there was a significant list of costly council ‘blunders’ and major project overspends that needed to be challenged.

“These issues demonstrate that council has lost touch with resident expectations and its principal responsibilities to ratepayers and the broader community,” he said.

“It is vital residents have the chance to discuss council’s performance, meet candidates and listen to and question their policies and approach to the role of councillor.”

The public residents’ forum will be held in the Strathdale Community Centre, Crook Street, Strathdale, on October 9.

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