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


8.20PM Councillors vote to formally appoint Craig Niemann as chief executive officer for the next five years.

The provisional decision was announced earlier this month.

The council went through a four-month recruitment process costing $50,000, in which Mr Niemann was required to re-apply for the CEO position he has held for 10 years.

All councillors voted in favour of the reappointment, apart from Cr Julie Hoskin, who abstained from voting.

8.15PM Bendigo Gasworks looks set for a new lease on life after councillors voted to begin the first stages of its redevelopment.

The historic site is contaminated, but long-terms plans aim to restore some of its original features like gasholders, the broiler room and purifiers and build a function centre, cafe, kitchen and educational facility built on the site.

Cr Andrea Metcalf said the site was identified as being in very poor condition, but she could also see the potential in it.

Cr Matt Emond said the Gasworks was a space of service and invention.

“We’ve seen what happened at the old gaol (restored into Ulumbarra Theatre), so you can only imagine what opportunities lie ahead,” he said.

8.00PM Councillors endorse the environment strategy action plan. 

Crs Alden and Fyffe spoke of how it was incumbent on individuals to attempt to leave the environment in a better situation than they found it.

“It’s up to us around this table to provide leadership,” Cr Alden said.

Speaking on the environment strategy action plan, Cr Hoskin emerged as a climate change skeptic.

“I cannot support a pledge that I’m not sure is right.”

Read the environment strategy action plan below

7.45PM Councillors vote to rename the Bendigo Aquatic Centre the Faith Leech Aquatic Centre with a minimum amount of fuss. 

Cr Fyffe said the new name is appropriate and recognises the achievements of the Olympic swimming.

The naming followed the furore over the naming of the new Kangaroo Flat Aquatic Centre, with some suggesting it should have been named after Ms Leech rather than the Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre, a name submitted by the Dja Dja Wurrung. 

7.30PM A 35-metre telecommunications pole will be erected on Averys Road, Eaglehawk, after councillors approved the plans. 

Council compromised on the location of the pole – putting it further back from the road – in response to a number of objections.

Cr Julie Hoskin said she was pleased an ‘amicable’ agreement was reached with regards to the new facility.  

7.20PM Councillors vote in favour of the Aspire Precinct 5:4. Councillors were divided on the issue of car parking.

In the planning report, a suggestion the developer pay Bendigo council $155,000 in lieu of not providing 14 car park spaces was identified by Cr Julie Hoskin, who asked council planning director Bernie O’Sullivan, what short-term benefit to the area this money would have. 

The answer given did not provide too much clarity on the question

Cr Flack said he did not think Aspire had explored the option of creating an underground car park – potentially catering for 300 spaces –  at the precinct, despite previous public references to it being a possibility.

In opposing the application, Cr Andrea Metcalf said 15 planning applications in the area had car parking requirements waived over the past five years which has had a cumulative effect on car parking, and thus businesses in the area.

“Parking issues should not be used as a guise to stop developments in our community,” Cr Wrigglesworth said.

“The empty, almost desolate land below the Sacred Heart Cathedral gives a sense of incompleteness.”

Cr Fyffe said: “Religion has played very significant part in the development of our community, ever since the Gold Rush days. The precinct will help tell our stories to the world.” 

6.30PM Councillors vote to reject a planning application for a 32-lot subdivision on Taylors Lane, Strathfieldsaye.

The main objection articulated by councillors was the ‘excessive’ removal of vegetation required for the subdivision. 

“It (development) doesn’t fit in with the township’s vision of maintaining existing vegetation,” Cr Jennifer Alden said. 

6PM Welcome to the live blog of the December 13 Bendigo council meeting. There certainly isn’t an end-of-term feel about this meeting, with plenty of interesting items on the lengthy agenda.

Full December 13 council agenda