Quite often (not often enough) we see letters to the editor lamenting the unattractiveness of our city, especially our central business district.
Now I am not claiming that beautification is a panacea for changed locational retail trading, but I think a bit of vegetative colour would at least make those who still want to shop in the middle of our towns feel sublimely more happy in more aesthetic surroundings.
Enter a possible resurgence of the traditional old planter box — cheap but effective, so popular in beautiful towns overseas, but not so common here in Oz.
Yes there are some private examples such as the Friars car park. There are a few geraniums in brick raised planter beds in the south mall, but why not start a revival?
Greater Shepparton City Council could provide the boxes on committed application by business owners and they could take over — good talking points and great ‘‘feel goods’’ all round.
Seasonal competitions would be great publicity, too.
There are logistics to address — plant choice, watering, vandalism, for example. Even apathy? Who knows, but is it worth a try?
The planter box in the picture is a successful example, admittedly on the southern footpath as a welcome to visitors to our tourism centre in Nixon St.
Perhaps some traders might think it is a good idea.
●Should our councillors be paid more than what they are currently getting?
What is their current remuneration, you ask?
Well, Greater Shepparton is in the middle level of three categories set by the local government minister — fixed range being, councillors $10490 to $25225 and the mayor up to $78051. I think we have adopted the upper limit of those two ranges, being about the larger of municipalities in that list.
On top of that, there are phones, computers, training and, where applicable, travelling expenses, plus a car for the mayor.
So back to the original question. Is it enough? Some councillors at Greater Bendigo, who get more than Greater Shepparton, think not. They can get up to $30223, with the mayoral salary of up to $96534 per year plus the same operating essentials as our councillors.
My view is remuneration goes hand-in-hand with another issue — the number of councillors and frankly we have too many. Yet to be convinced that we need nine — five, with considerably increased ‘‘salary’’ would be far more effective attracting a much broader interest group of aspirants.
Is it likely to change? Not on your number-plate. The powers-that-be seem to think that we need more councillors, not less.
In truth, if you have the right people, like you, Jimmy from the pub and me, three would be perfect (preferably with two of us away on long-service leave).
Seriously, go down to five and put the mayor on $120000 and put the other four councillors on $45000.
Not a popular suggestion, I know, but after an initial outcry I think you would be happy with the result.
What do you think?
●Ran into three or four fellow citizens who, like me, have not been canvassed to consider standing for either of the Victorian Coalition parties, for the lower house seat of Shepparton District, at the November elections. We must be the only ones discarded as everyone else seems to have been approached.
But I jest, although it seems all possible conservative aspirants are awaiting the decision of State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed as to whether the popular incumbent will continue in the role, as well they might, it being a tough nomination task.
Besides there being a lobster shortage around our fishmongers’ outlets on Tuesday came the announcement the Liberals are going to throw everything but the town hall clock at our local state contest, also made interesting by the fact they will be pitted against their Coalition partners.
The Nationals are experimenting with their pre-selection process, having had a major disaster at the federal level in the 1990s — now bypassing their local party membership with a ‘‘let the general voters pick our candidate’’ charade. What a backhander for the rank-and-file party faithful.
Of course besides the Nats, Libs, independent and ALP, there will be further minors and independents — maybe a total of seven or eight.
Exciting days ahead in this cat-and-mouse electoral contest.
Shepparton’s John Gray has vast experience in local government, urban water reform and natural resource management.