What have you done for us lately Councillor?

Central Coast CouncillorsSuspended Central Coast Councillors.

Councillors list their most significant achievements in the past three years?

If it weren’t for the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, Central Coast voters would have been headed to the polls on September 12 to elect new councillors, bringing the amalgamated region back in line with the state’s four yearly election cycle.

Due to COVID-19, the local government elections have now been put back 12 months to September 4, 2021, with the next term of all NSW councillors to be three years to get elections back in sync.

Our councillors therefore have another 12 months to serve but we thought it was timely, on the third anniversary of their election, to ask them to list their top three achievements to date.

Many emphasized that all achievements required the support of the majority of councillors and implementation by staff, while others said it was important to also look at what had been proposed but voted down. “It is the small things that residents want addressed including fixing potholes, building jetties and boat ramps, skate park and sporting field upgrades, signage and the waiving of fees and charges for community groups that matter most,” one councillor said.

Another lamented the lack of credit given to Council for increasing funding for infrastructure, capital works, community space and a more equitable allocation of funds across the local government area. “We cop a lot of criticism, of course some is justified, some is not, but it is important to recognise that over the last three years there has been significant investment in our local communities, and far more is required into the future,” the councillor said. Here’s a snapshot of what some Councillors saw as the most significant achievements over the past three years. 

Published in order of receipt.

Jillian Hogan

1. Direct employment of apprentices and trainees with a pathway to employment with Central Coast Council – previously these were contracted out to group training organisations with no real prospect of employment at the end.

2. San Remo state level BMX facility which is now up and running and a state level track with a clubhouse, canteen and a fully operational club.

3. The Noela Parade Reserve revitalisation, several playgrounds and memorials including the suicide and ANZAC memorial at Slade Park Budgewoi. 

Richard Mehrtens

1. Approval of the new Umina Mall project, which is expected to commence before the end of the year. “This has been a decade in the making and it shouldn’t have taken the amount of effort it did to get this $12M investment into our community on track – I am pleased that the community will finally have their local shops back, bigger and better than ever.”

2. Free Tree Program – Cr Mehrtens says the trees Council provides today are an investment in better communities tomorrow, and are vital in identified urban heat islands like the Peninsula.

3. Town Centre Banners. There were few issues, Cr Mehrtens says, that were as unpopular as the former Gosford Council’s decision to remove town centre banners from Umina and put the onus back onto community groups to pay for seasonal banners. “After a lot of pushing and working with staff, I am so pleased that the banners have returned to Gosford and Umina – giving just that little bit more life to our town centres.”  

Jeff Sundstrom 

1. Securing suitable Domestic Violence leave provisions for council staff. 

2. The re-establishment of community advisory committees bringing the community and council together for the benefit of residents and local businesses.

3. Helping a young family with a nasty water inundation issue that resulted from a council water main bursting in Empire Bay. 

Greg Best

1. Abandoning the Gosford cultural precinct. “One of my most significant contributions has saved our Ratepayers millions of dollars through the numerous Motions and Rescission Motions I have tabled calling on this Council to abandon its $171M delusional Gosford Arthouse/Library fiasco,” Cr Best told us.

2. Cr Best says his second most noteworthy contribution is in relation to the now historic tabling of five Rescission Motions around Council tearing up multi-million dollar Airport Hub Contracts, paying damages and refusing to provide ratepayers formal consultation of the $450,000 Airport Master Plan.

3. Imploring Council to take a more disciplined and responsible approach to overall finances, highlighting how the Council’s operating surplus had disappeared over the last three years. 

Rebecca Gale

1. Getting through priority Gosford East Ward play spaces – Shaun Brinklow Park all-inclusive upgrade in Copacabana $270,000 and Shelly Beach Road Park in Empire Bay $350,000 (the State Government contributed $150,000).

2. The Memorandum of Understanding between Council and the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Council to improve the relationship between the two bodies, and the lives of Aboriginal people living on the Central Coast.

3. Protection of our waterways, via numerous motions put forward to protect public and private assets and the environment, including a 2018 motion directing the operational team to submit compliant applications for coastal and estuary grants in erosion hotspots.

“Well and truly before our recent Wamberal and The Entrance erosion catastrophe, my motions to dredge Ettalong and match the State Government’s ‘Rescue Our Waterways’ grant and purchase our own dredge were strongly supported by the public and business owners.” 

Kyle MacGregor

1. Opposing the (Warnervale) Airport masterplan to turn the landing area into a type 2 jet airport at an estimated cost of over $400M. “This masterplan was not in the community best interest, would have diverted hundreds of millions of dollars away from capital works and infrastructure, did not have State Government approval and did not comply with state legislation, had no ability to compete with Newcastle or Sydney airports, would have taken years to progress and was little more than a pipe dream.”

2. Approval of the Tuggerawong pathway and the larger pathway loop around the Tuggerah Lakes for not only local recreation but for regional tourism.

3. The “Buy Local” procurement policy and campaign which provides local content quotas and loading for local businesses to work with Council. “This ties in nicely with my first resolution on this council to adopt a 15 per cent apprenticeship quota for council projects.” 

Louise Greenaway

1. Consistently representing the community. “Councillors are a voice for the community but, to be an effective voice, we firstly need to have an ear to the community and listen to what residents are saying. Cr Greenaway is a regular participant at meetings at community centres, schools, clubs and other events and says these events are great opportunities to listen to residents; to hear their vision as well as their concerns. She was also proud of having a 100 per cent attendance record at formal Meetings of Council.

2. Consistently delivering projects. “One of my first successful motions in Council was to open the Hely St carpark to the public – I still enjoy seeing that open boom-gate which enables residents and businesses to benefit from improved parking.”

3. Consistently committed to the future – in particular, Cr Greenaway pointed to her role on Water Management Committee which liaises directly with staff about water security including the Mardi to Warnervale Pipeline and Mangrove Creek Dam. 

Jane Smith

1. Leadership and Action on Climate Change. On March 12, 2018, Cr Smith moved a Mayoral Minute that committed Council to strong action on Climate Change, joining the Cities Power Partnership (CPP) and developing a Climate Change Policy. “The community has demonstrated through consultation that they want Council to show leadership in this area.”

2. Establishment of Advisory Committees to provide transparency, accountability and greater involvement community and stakeholders in the work of Council – these included (among others) the Mangrove Mountain and Spencer Advisory Committee and the Coastal Open Space System (COSS) Committee.

3. Review of Community Facilities – a motion moved by Cr Smith in September, 2018, led to a review of how Council manages and interacts with community organisations with regards to the region’s Community Facilities and culminated in August this year with a final “Facilities Leasing and Licensing Policy”. 

Jilly Pilon

1. Applying for grants, including to ensure Council has designated staff to apply and obtain Government Grants as a major source of income for our infrastructure and community support.

2. Waterways care, including representing the community on the deterioration and silting up of the Ettalong Channel and The Tuggerah Lakes. “I have always said that Council needs to take ownership, responsibility and action to fix the channels and keep them open … as a Councillor I have advocated to both the State and Federal Governments seeking funding and managed to secure $4.7M for the Tuggerah Lakes as part of the 2019 Federal Election.”

3. Support for the Central Coast Aviation hub. 

Doug Vincent

1. Carters Road improvements

2. Shared pathway improvements in the north.

3. Process and approvals for increased community weed/wrack removal from the Tuggerah Lakes System. 

Bruce McLachlan

1. Anti-litter initiatives. “Prior to election, I had been an anti – litter campaigner, and my first initiative was the introduction of a new Central Coast Litter policy, which brings renewed focus to this ongoing issue of litter trashing our beaches and reserves and plastics entering our waterways.”

2. Changing the debate. Cr McLachlan says his motion “Flood risk Rising” which highlighted previous inactions on the Lakes issue, and resulted in bringing angry flood victims to the Council Chamber calling for action, has significantly changed the debate on storm events and trigger points for opening the channel. “My Geo textile bag Notice of Motion [also] changed the narrative from “no break wall,” to “what alternatives” of intervention can be looked at,” Cr McLachlan said in relation to the response to coastal erosion in Nth Entrance and Wamberal.

3. Social media campaigns – Cr McLachlan said his often outspoken, social media awareness campaigns, highlighting the crippling, divisive, party politics and its negative impact on the Council’s performance, as his most successful contribution to date.

Now it’s time to have your say on how you think the Council has performed over the past three years. Email comments to – ccn@centralcoastnews.net 

Merilyn Vale