Community Plan’s Open letter

The Community Plan Central Coast group has sent the following open letter to the Central Coast Council.

Those of us who have laboured over these past 15 months to produce the Community Plan Central Coast have also assiduously participated in, and contributed to, the development of the Council’s Strategic Plan. It is our strong hope that the well-thought-out Council’s Strategic Plan will be a competently prepared and well-structured plan which outlines a comprehensive “preferred future” for the Central Coast consistent with the expressed wishes of the residents of the Central Coast, and does not leave holes to be filled by distant policies from NSW and Federal governments who do not have the same insight as the researchers and coordinators of the Council’s Strategic Plan.

It should also be regarded by the Council as its most important planning document, not to be bent, not to be broken, not to be ignored or over-ridden by outside interests such as developers or political parties through their factions or distant governments. It occurs to us that, given the NSW Government’s Central Coast Regional Plan 2036 is not based on a community consultation and is a self-confessed “NSW Government strategy for guiding land use planning for the Central Coast region” that there will be gaps in policy coverage, and even clashes in policy settings. Under these circumstances, we at Community Plan Central Coast would reckon, prima facie, that the Council should deliberate, and steadfastly endorse the view that the contents of the Council’s Strategic Plan should be operative and that all manner of strategies should be employed by Council to ensure its implementation.

These strategies may include Council approaches to NSW and Federal governments, or resistance to NSW and/or Federal government attempts to over-ride Council’s Strategic Plan the preferred future as described by the community. Council may, in its relationships with other governments, choose to employ: submissions, media coverage, public debates, public opinion meetings, representations, negotiations, campaigning. In short, Council should not assume that because the NSW Government has legislative authority over local government that that is the end to the expression of the Will of the People.

The Council’s Strategic Plan, if competently constructed and a genuine representation of our preferred future rather than a Swiss cheese plan full of NSW and Federal government holes will be worth fighting for, including pressing NSW and Federal governments to adequately fund the elements of the Council’s Strategic Plan for which they are responsible. With the 2017 election over, and the prospect of a clean Council now before us, it is time to look ahead, vision a preferred future, plan for it, and begin implementation.

The quality of the Council’s Strategic Plan is, of course, crucial. We understand that a draft of the Council’s Strategic Plan will not be available until 27 February. No-one seems to know the shape of the upcoming draft. In the absence of information, we are somewhat concerned to ensure that the Council’s Strategic Plan includes sub-plans for all our citizens. For example, we know that there are about 2000 homeless Central Coast people only 10 percent of whom are housed in emergency accommodation on any night.

We earnestly hope that the upcoming Council’s Strategic Plan includes a detailed strategy to house these members of our community with particular attention to defence force veterans, victims of domestic violence, the mentally ill, amongst others. The Council’s Strategic Plan is the place to reveal the best thinking and planning for all areas of urgent need. These include the environment, involving a triaged analysis of current and future environmental challenges that require urgent attention; Indigenous affairs, requiring a Council process which invites aboriginal input into all key policy areas as well as a comprehensive and internationally informed youth policy.

The plan should also outline a comprehensive pensioners policy including advocacy to the Federal Government for an above-poverty line living pension for those who need it. Our economy is another consideration which would require an economic policy with a vision that includes a comprehensive smart city strategy and which identifies future areas of job growth and takes action to facilitate it as well as small businesses, who need an encouraging policy. An education policy which advocates for a Central Coast University and strengthened TAFE colleges, both geared to the futuristic needs of jobs, youth, and workers is needed, as is a plan which is supported by relevant organisations, for those with a disability.

A fresh approach to the establishment of an iconic cultural centre on the Gosford waterfront needs to be adopted, including both a 1000-seat concert hall and a smaller theatre for local bands, choral concerts, and a variety of artists. The plan should demonstrate a persistent Council concern for, and oversight of, legal wage rate payments and non-sexist, nondiscriminatory work practices throughout the Central Coast in order to support workers and families. Health and hospitals need to be supported by a Central Coast-wide health policy including an analysis of the availability of, and requirements associated with: GP, specialist, dental, hospital facilities for strong and persistent advocacy to NSW and Federal governments.

A comprehensive and integrated roads and transport plan including: trains, buses, shared transport, freight, roads, kerbing and guttering, parking, pedestrians, cycling should be included. Finally, climate change should also be targeted through a comprehensive plan to reduce carbon emissions and generate renewable energies as pursued in the Cities Power Partnership.

Letter, 11 January 2018 Van Davy, Pearl Beach