By BARBARA CURRAN
Acting Mayor of Brighton
THE independent research commissioned by Brighton Council clearly shows that our ratepayers are strongly opposed to local government amalgamation.
Certainly, they do not want Brighton swallowed up in some greater Hobart Council and the overwhelming majority don’t even see the merits of Brighton amalgamating with a neighbouring council. Our ratepayers want Brighton to remain as it is – as an autonomous Council, with its own Mayor, Councillors and staff, and within its current boundaries.
Ratepayers also see the merit in Brighton sharing its resources and services with like-minded councils. The Council shares this view and we are proud of our leadership in developing a shared service model that is already earning valuable revenue as well as saving costs and this is enabling Brighton to further enhance services and facilities for our community.
Council undertook the research in response to the State Government’s call to local government to consult with ratepayers following its call for consideration of voluntary council amalgamations. We have now passed on the response of our ratepayers to the Minister for Local Government, Peter Gutwein and as a result of our community’s response, we will continue to work to ensure that Brighton remains as a sustainable, stand alone, independent council.
Brighton’s survey was managed by Myriad Research, a professional organisation that has successfully completed similar research in the past. It involved surveying a sample distribution of people broadly reflecting the population profile of the Brighton municipality in relation to area, age and gender, making the results extremely valid.
In undertaking the research, we also asked ratepayers a series of questions about the performance of council, its activities and services, how Brighton was meeting the needs of the community and what it could do better.
The results were very pleasing, with Council’s performance highly rated and people particularly supportive of our parks, playgrounds, community and recreational facilities, as well as the general appearance of our roads and streetscapes.
Importantly our fair rating system that keeps down rate increases and has given Brighton the lowest rates in Tasmania certainly has the approval of the community. Council was also praised for its financial performance and debt-free status, a position that we continue to work hard to maintain.
There was also strong support for our community activities, particularly the Police and Citizens Youth Club, the Farm School, Playgroup and activities at the Brighton Civic Centre.
We also asked ratepayers to suggest areas for improvement and many of the suggestions, such as road works, improved education facilities and local services, are already being worked on by Council. The solution to a number of the suggestions is beyond the control of Council, but we are determined to continue our representations to the State and Federal Governments and private sector developers to bring about improvements.
A number of respondents called for an increase in retail outlets in the municipality and we’ll certainly be encouraging this as the research showed that the majority of people go out of Brighton for the shopping, banking and to access other services.
We want to keep more business in Brighton as it makes it easier for people to go about their day-to-day activities, boosts the viability of local enterprises and generally enhances the vibrancy of our region. By shopping locally we support our neighbours and support local jobs.
I look forward to working with my fellow Councillors and Council staff, as we look to positively respond to the research findings and the views of our community.