Too many strategies, too little focus on core responsibilities

Forum –

One of the problems with Central Coast Council was lack of focus (“Council’s Climate Action Plan and Greener Spaces strategies dropped”, PP 015) on reality.

The Council had a Climate Change Action Plan, a Greener Places Strategy, a Sustainability Strategy, a Community Strategic Plan, a Landcare Programme, a Tourism Opportunity Plan and a Holiday Parks Business Strategy, and, in addition, it has dabbled in homelessness, employment promotion and environmental protection.

This is not to mention its penchant for producing master plans for Wyong, Woy Woy, East Gosford, West Gosford and other locations, plus its efforts at transport strategies, parking strategies, beach enhancement strategies and the like.

Many of these matters fall outside the management scope and financial capacity of local government and were nothing but exercises in self-aggrandisement by councillors.

Others could be argued as important but dealt with issues that were beyond the intellectual capabilities of our councillors to make any judgement on.

Too much attention and effort was frittered away on concerns that were not relevant to Council’s core responsibilities, and too much money was squandered on unfruitful studies, expert consultations that led nowhere and commitments that were nothing more than glossy pr presentations.

At the same time, ratepayers were crying out for some attention to be paid to development standards, traffic problems, litter and other basic needs that the Council should have been addressing.

We had a council which harboured pretensions to play a guiding role in the future of the Central Coast but that couldn’t manage out-of-control dogs (“Calls for tougher dog laws intensify”, PP 015).

It is no wonder that the State Government has been gradually reducing the Council’s role in any matters of importance.

This is not to say that the State agencies have done any better: about all you could say is that they haven’t done any worse.

However, this is not the point: if we had had councillors with an eye on the fundamentals of local government, we not only shouldn’t be in the financial mess that we are but could be enjoying an improving environment, instead of the deteriorating one that we have.

When the city was under Administrator Mark 1, there was much talk about the need to replace him with qualified, effective, forward-looking councillors who could respond to community values and realize the city’s potential.

No doubt, the same talk will resurface under Administrator Mark 3.

Talk is cheap and gets us nowhere: what will it take to make the electorate seriously examine the qualifications of council candidates and vote for competence over political claptrap?

Email, June 6
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy