Time to spruce up our entrance

October 12, 2017

How important are a town’s highway entrances? What do they tell visitors about our villages and cities?

Well, coming into the Fruit Salad City (now mis-named due to the cannery demise), from the west, currently has travellers confused — at least, we hope, only temporarily.

You see there’s a beautifully constructed, functional intersection to a safe and aesthetic entrance to an inviting new and extensive Mooroopna residential subdivision but in the interim it’s adorned by a highway frontage display — a nine-berth tree mausoleum.

Yes, a recently planted display of stone-cold-motherless, advanced, mulched, staked sadly deceased eucalypt trees.

What’s missing? Yes, you guessed it. Aqua pura — available in our urban areas for about $0.0012 a litre.

Who’s responsible? Who plants advanced trees and just walks away? Who knows?

Nine out of nine is a pretty good termination rate though, isn’t it?

What a great way to ruin a great well-executed project. There’s still time this growing season for replacement but someone needs to get their skates on.

Paying for the neglect is the least-important aspect of the exercise. Just the visual impact is disheartening.

●A couple of months ago this column drew attention to ‘‘long-time adherents of the local Shepparton branch of the Liberal Party’’ bad-mouthing our state member’s sterling and productive Spring St performance per medium of narky orchestrated letters to The News.

Not easily disheartened, one of them was at it again (Response angers — The News, October 3) — bellyaching that she had been belatedly ‘‘fobbed off’’ by our member’s, admittedly delayed, suggestion she write directly to the Andrews Government’s Health Minister complaining ‘‘the termination of three experienced directors from Goulburn Valley Health board, despite all three having applied to extend their tenure’’.

It’s worth noting that while the three ‘‘terminated’’ former board members, all good men and true, appointed by the former Coalition Government, no doubt recommended at appointment by local member Wendy Lovell, one is the correspondent’s husband (who has been a state vice-president of the Liberal Party), and another has been the Liberal candidate at state elections. Come on, what political party is going to appoint dedicated opposition party members to its own boards anyway?

Criticising the independent for wisely keeping out of petty major-party point-scoring spats is pointless but just watch the Liberal letter-writers use any old chance to snidely sink the slipper at any perceived chance in the pre-election 12-month lead-up.

●Now we’re getting to the pointy end of the ‘‘free’’ parking (whatever that may be) debate, with the possible shifting of cost of Shepparton CBD timed parking, on the cards, from the motorist to the general ratepayers.

Future options are likely to be debated at Tuesday’s council meeting at Tatura.

The major basis for proponents’ support for motorists enjoying ‘‘no cost’’ CBD parking seems to be wanting parity with the 24/7 no-time-limit, no-fines Marketplace and Riverside Plaza bays, but ‘‘free’’ parking protagonists want more — much more.

The populist advocates want parking staff kept on, at a cost of the thick end of $4000000 per annum, to monitor the continuing two-hour limits — added to the estimated annual revenue loss of $900000.

What the ‘‘free’’ parking fans should be doing is demanding keeping the current profitable system which turns over customers efficiently and insisting that the roughly million dollars yearly ‘‘profit’’ is ploughed back into parking land acquisition and infrastructure, unlikely to be provided, in future, from ever-eroding council revenue.

●What is a division?

The Macquarie Dictionary defines some 14 meanings, but its closest in terms of municipal meetings is probably ‘‘separation by difference of opinion’’.

The meeting ordinance division procedure in response to a request, by any councillor, to the meeting chair, basically on any matter, made either immediately before or immediately after a vote is taken, names for the minutes recorded, based on hands up, those in favour and those against the motion.

It’s hardly been used by this current first-year council but to be fair there’s hardly been any contentious matter that divided the nine-person monthly assembly.

Come to think about it, there hasn’t been use of many meeting mechanisms, such as amendments, addenda, foreshadowed amendments and motions, notices of motion, amendment or rescission and others — mostly we have mere moving of officers’ recommendations, admittedly all that has been necessary for mundane approval.

Maybe the ‘‘free’’ parking issue will engender some of the makings of a much-needed spirited debate.

Shepparton’s John Gray has vast experience in local government, urban water reform and natural resource management.

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