Bendigo Advertiser letters to the editor

FUMING: Letter-writer Bill Collier says car fumes are likely to be more detrimental to people's health than cigarette smoke wafting through the open air.
FUMING: Letter-writer Bill Collier says car fumes are likely to be more detrimental to people's health than cigarette smoke wafting through the open air.

Show me the evidence

The cry by our city councillor to ban smoking in the open air of our public streets is ruined by the evidence available on this issue.

There is no doubt in my mind that second-hand smoke in enclosed areas can cause a problem, but in the open air?

Can Councillor Yvonne Wigglesworth advise us of the dispersion rate of smoke or car fumes in an open environment?

The evidence is just not there at present.

Bill Collier, Golden Square

Jury out on consultation

Well, well, well, so our mayor (“Councillors calling shots”, Bendigo Advertiser, April 17) says that Michael McKenzie has been disrespectful to her.

I would suggest that the boot is on the other foot. I am amazed at just how respectful Michael has been. None of the letters I have seen from him have been disrespectful.

Two of the most important recommendations from the Independent Review – recommendations two and eight – were hogtied.

Recommendation two “innovative strategies in management, staffing and structure of council” consigned to the garbage bin with no action taken, putting paid to any notion of improvement in structures or staffing.

Result: Despite recent restructuring employee benefits, costs are expected to rise 5.3 per cent this year.

Recommendation eight specified and mandated ways in which management of the city’s business unit’s income and expenditure should be changed to aspire to become fully self funded in 5 to 10 years to save millions of dollars a year.

This recommendation was also consigned to the garbage bin. Thus the notion of a significant improvement in balancing income and expenditure on council’s budget disappeared.

Result: Ever-increasing funds required to run Greater Bendigo business units. Have new councillors intervened to stop 2017 council officer proposals for a 5.3 per cent increase in employee benefits?

I find it flabbergasting that our mayor would denigrate the efforts of Messrs McKenzie and Coleman to improve council performance. We should all be interested in improving council performance.

The mayor and councillors need to come to grips with the democratic process of challenging decisions about governance or ones that undermine the lives, values and moral compass of its citizens.

Automatic respect does not befall to mayors or councillors, it’s based on results. Respect is earned. The suggestions of council officers and five government bodies has morphed into Plan Greater Bendigo without input by residents. Yet council is running one page adds in local papers inviting for residents to rate more than 70 proposed projects.

Why is this being done when public submissions have not been included? These actions ridicule the mayor’s claims of community input being at the “heart of the plans”.

It sure was exciting to read of 536 survey responses. Interestingly, no numbers were given for responses to the blitz on social media online or for informal residents meetings, community events, markets and public gatherings. I note our population exceeds 110,000.

Whilst the mayor’s attempts at getting the community involved in the Greater Bendigo Community Plan are certainly a step in the right direction, the jury remains out until there is much wider community and business representation and involvement.

At present the usual suspects – council officers , the sustainability group, Bike Bendigo, multicultural interests, the tourism and arts cohort and other noisy minority groups in the Bendigo council bubble – appear to be driving the plans.

When innovative ideas from outside these groups are included we might start to be convinced that councillors are in control.

Colin Burns, Longlea


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