Ratepayer survey provides vital information for future planning

BRIGHTON ratepayers have responded positively to the Council’s community survey, providing a range of suggestions and input to assist in the future development of the municipality as well as formulating the new Brighton Structure Plan.

Mayor Tony Foster said the survey would be valuable in helping Council to better understand the community’s desires, opinions and needs as it planned for the municipality’s future.“We asked a broad range of questions about the Council’s services, operations and facilities, and sought community views on what we did well and where we could improve,” Cr Foster said.

“The response was outstanding with almost 400 individuals or families from throughout the municipality, responding directly online.

“The community contribution is really important and supports our public information and input sessions, a call for public submissions and targeted public consultation, as part of our Brighton Structure Plan development.

“Survey respondents covered a broad range of age groups, from teenagers to people over 70 and included home-owners, buyers and renters.”

Cr Foster said obviously issues like roads, parks and recreation, education, employment, health, housing and retail services were prominent, but the survey also provided a wealth of other information and all input would be carefully considered by Council officers and Councillors.

Roads, footpaths, parks, recreation and waste management were listed as the most valued Council services.

A number of road-works have been completed this financial year, including the Cove Hill road and Bridge. Other scheduled over the coming months and within the 10-year plan.

Work is underway on new parks in Bridgewater and Old Beach, as well as the upgrading of pathways and building shelters between Gagebrook, Herdsman’s Cove and Bridgewater, representing a combined investment of some $2 million this financial year.

Long-term waste management is under review, with some recent changes reflecting the best value for money for ratepayers for collection services.

Similarly, road and footpath improvements, more parks and trails and replacement of the Bridgewater Bridge rated as the most important projects for the future.

A highlight is the recent completion of Brighton streetscape major upgrade project, and Council is preparing master plans for future infrastructure upgrades, including Andrew Street and Green Point Road.

The parks and trails network is currently being expanded, with new parks in Old Beach and in Bridgewater under construction. Bridgewater park includes public toilets and a barbecue shelter and links to the commercial and community and education precinct. The trail upgrade between Gagebrook/Herdsman’s Cove and Bridgewater will greatly improve access and will include two shelters along the route.

On the key issue of the replacement of the Bridgewater Bridge, Council continues to make frequent representations to the State and Federal Governments. This recently re-elected State Government promised progress during this current term and we will continue to push for a definite timetable.

Respondents identified employment, education and improving parks and open space as key issues for Brighton.

On education, Council successfully lobbied the State Government for a new high school in Brighton and for a major investment in the School Farm. Council will work to ensure these commitments are delivered in the shortest possible time.

Looking to employment, Council actively seeks to attract potential employers to the municipality. Council is also working closely with education, training and employment providers and a range of government departments to optimise the opportunities for the community.

Council continues to work to improve local shopping precincts. Brighton Road upgrades are now complete with planning underway for future upgrades at Green Point Road. Further footpath upgrades between the Green Point and Cove Hill shopping precincts are also scheduled. The construction of a $1 million park with public toilets and a variety of playground and recreation spaces will also enhance the shopping precinct at Bridgewater.

Looking to affordable housing, Council has done and continues to pursue a range of re-zonings and master plans across the municipality to ensure there is always more than adequate supply of a range of options for housing, from medium density apartments to rural living options. Council is also working closely with Centacare Evolve Housing on its project to deliver approximately 400 new dwellings within the municipality. Council has released its own surplus land for affordable housing projects and will continue to do so.

Health and medical services are clearly the most valued community services for Brighton residents.

The survey response shows how highly the community values these services. While not strictly a local government responsibility, Council has been actively involved and will continue to work to improve services in the area, including the promotion of medical and dental facilities in Brighton. Centacare has also established medical and counselling services at its Green Point location.

Respondents also provided their views on the municipality’s parks and open spaces, the condition of Council’s streets and roads, halls, sporting facilities and the civic centre, and the overall performance of the Brighton Council.

Cr Foster said the Council conducted the survey as part of its strategy to engage with the community to better understand what people wanted and didn’t want, and what they saw as the key issues and opportunities for Brighton.

“The results will ensure we are well-placed to respond to the community’s desires and needs and we intend to run similar surveys periodically so that we remain responsive to changes and can track community trends.

“In future issues of Brighton Community News we will report more specifically on what respondents said Council did well and what could be improved, as well as the positive attributes of living in Brighton as well as ratepayers’ general comments and suggestions.

“We’ll also report on the community’s view on potential council amalgamations, Council’s approach to environmental sustainability and renewable energy, support for future light rail or ferry services and how people prefer to find out about Council activities, information and plans,” Cr Foster said.