Hilltops Council Administrator Wendy Tuckerman is assuring residents every effort has been made to consult as widely as possible on the allocation of the $14 million Stronger Communities Fund, saying accusations to the contrary are completely unfounded.
Mrs Tuckerman said feedback has been sought through members of the Local Representative Committees (LRCs), public forums and information stands, while some residents have also chosen to submit written feedback.
“We have long believed that the best people to advise on local projects are the locals themselves. That’s why the team here at Hilltops Council has been committed to ensuring anyone who has an opinion and wants to have their say, has every opportunity to do so,” Mrs Tuckerman said.
“We’ve also worked directly with members of the Local Representative Committees to develop and implement plans that will enrich the lives of the community in a lasting and meaningful way.
“To that end we have established constructive channels of communication to work with the LRC members in order to utilise their local knowledge and incorporate their advice, so it is disappointing when those productive and effective mechanisms are disregarded.
“While positions on all LRCs are scheduled to be formally wound-up at the end of June, the chair of the Young LRC Mr Brian Ingram will be concluding his role earlier than expected, after he sought to disengage with other members of the Young LRC and side-step the formal consultative process,” she said.
Mrs Tuckerman said Mr Ingram will be replaced on the Stronger Communities Fund Assessment Panel by Stuart Freudenstein.
“The Stronger Communities Fund Assessment Panel will be meeting in the coming weeks, so to ensure that the views of the Young LRC are appropriately represented, I will be inviting Mr Freudenstein to participate as a member of the assessment panel,” Mrs Tuckerman said.
“The LRCs have been an invaluable source of information throughout the administration phase; I certainly thank them for their efforts and have made it clear to remaining LRC members that their ongoing contribution would be most valuable in other forums going forward, including Council committees,” Mrs Tuckerman said.
Mrs Tuckerman said the recent allocation of more than $1 million to local community group projects demonstrates what can be achieved when Council and the community work together to ensure funding is directed where it’s needed most.
“Following a record number of submissions, over $1.1m has now been allocated to more than 40 community projects across the region that were identified by residents as important for their area. Despite the naysayers, I’m confident the projects eventually allocated resources under the Stronger Communities Fund will be equally as beneficial for local communities, both now and well into the future,” Mrs Tuckerman said.