CHANGING long-term revenue streams and the local government election system, better ways of fixing roads and more business training for local councillors are just some of the ideas that have flowed from regional communities as the local government listening tour continues its round of NSW.
The tour will head to Tamworth tomorrow.
Panel chairman Professor Graham Sansom said the consultations so far had been well-attended, future-focused and wide-ranging and that he was keen to hear what northern region residents’ thoughts were.
“We’ve heard some interesting perspectives on local government. The panel is looking forward to this week’s discussions, as we continue to explore issues that will affect NSW communities in the future,” Professor Sansom said.
Appointed by Local Government Minister Don Page, at the request of the NSW Local Government and Shires associations, the panel will be looking at the financial sustainability of councils, the way they deliver services, the size and scale of councils of the future and the way they will make community decisions.
Professor Sansom expects the work will take 12 months to complete and said the panel had been encouraged by the feedback received during its tour of 18 regional centres throughout NSW.
“So far, from regional and rural communities we’ve heard stories of economic change, population shift and the struggle to provide and maintain community infrastructure, but we have also heard positive ideas for embracing new technologies and improving council revenue streams,” Professor Sansom said.
“What is clear from these discussions is that people care deeply about their communities and want to see them survive and prosper. Our challenge is to find a way of strengthening local government to support those aims.”
Professor Sansom said the inquiry was not about criticising the performance of councils, but about finding ways to ensure their future.
“We want local government to continue to be a part of community life for the next 25 years, but I think most people would agree the system is due for some fairly significant change,” he said.
“We need to rethink the role of local councils and reshape the local government system, to help meet the needs of the future.”
The panel plans to meet with the widest possible range of people and organisations throughout NSW and will conduct four rounds of consultation during the review period in four stages: identifying key issues and exploring ideas, throughout July and September; options for change, October to January 2013; future directions, from February to May 2013; and a final report due in June/July 2013.
The panel is in Guyra today at the Guyra Shire Council chambers from 2pm to 3.30pm to talk to community members.
It will be in Tamworth tomorrow from 2pm to 3.30pm at Ray Walsh House in Peel St.