By TONY FOSTER
GIVEN the amount of negative publicity about local government over the past few months, people could be forgiven for thinking that councils are not doing a lot to benefit ratepayers and support their communities.
In fact, the opposite is the case and certainly, as far as Brighton is concerned, Councillors and our staff have been working extremely hard to ensure we operate as efficiently as possible and provide the best possible services and facilities for our community.
A quick review of the past year shows that it has been very much ‘business as usual’ for Brighton Council and that we continue to lead Tasmania in keeping down rate increases, developing our municipality and meeting the needs of the community.
Space in this column means that I can cover just a few of the initiatives Council has undertaken over the past 12 months, but they do provide a pointer to how we are working to build a better Brighton for now and the future.
One highlight is the Brighton Tomorrow project. The first phase of this project included extensive study of the public spaces in the municipality, in-depth public consultation and the preparation of a series of concept designs. We undertook this in partnership with architecture students from Monash University and the University of Tasmania and we received a million dollars worth of consultancy expertise for a fraction of the cost. The initial project received a fantastic response and next year will see us identify priority projects, costings and detailed design work, as well as an implementation plan.
In another important community project at the former Brighton Army camp, the Brighton Remembrance Park was successfully established and hosted the ANZAC and Remembrance Day commemorations this year. The first phase of restoration of the old army camp hospital was completed under a unique 5x5x5 project which up-skills local unemployed people, giving them building and heritage skills and knowledge. The next two stages of the project will be undertaken in 2016, again as part of our 5x5x5 project, developing a valuable community space in the former hospital building and also providing young trainees, who otherwise would have difficulty in finding work, important ‘job ready’ skills, as well as an understanding of our local heritage.
Council has successfully implemented our interim planning scheme and along with the Hobart City Council, was the first in Tasmania to introduce this much-needed reform. Brighton has long had a reputation of responding promptly to planning applications and issues and this ensures that we continue to be at the forefront in this important area of local government responsibility.
The past year has seen a major increase in professional services hours Brighton has provided for other councils, generating valuable income and assisting us to operate as cost effectively as possible. Brighton has also been prominent in the establishment of a common services joint venture with other like-minded Councils and this is already providing significant savings for ratepayers. We have also agreed to work even more closely with our Council neighbours, Southern Midlands, Derwent Valley and Central Highlands, and 2016 will see this initiative bear fruit for Brighton and its partners.
While all this has been going on, we have not neglected the other Council basics of roads, bridges and footpaths. The recently or soon to be completed works include:
- The Elderslie Road bridge refurbishment including the retro-fitting of a number of the bridge beams and piers with carbon fibre wraps and strengthening beams to extend the life of the bridge.
- Reconstruction and widening works of a further kilometre of Back Tea Tree Road.
- Continued litter and vegetation maintenance of the East Derwent Highway.
- Resurfacing of a number of roads including Jubilee Avenue, Morrisby Road, Maxwell Drive, Compton Road, Sun Valley Drive, Swan Street, Salier Street, Warruga Street, Kathleen Drive and High Sunderland St.
- Footpath replacements in Bridgewater and Old Beach.
This is just a snapshot, but I am sure that you will agree that it demonstrates how Brighton Council has got on with the job of serving its ratepayers and community.
As this will be my final column in Brighton Community News this year, may I take the opportunity to wish all readers and everyone in our great Brighton community the very best wishes for the festive season. I hope that you all have a relaxing and happy Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year.