BALLARAT’S new council should waste no time getting to work on the important issues facing the city, community leaders said yesterday.
Outgoing councillor and former mayor Judy Verlin welcomed the return of three current councillors and the arrival o f six new faces yesterday, and offered her support as the new chair of the Committee for Ballarat.
Ms Verlin said the Committee for Ballarat had clear views on what the new council’s priorities should be, including jobs, the environment and quality of life.
“We talk about sustainability in water supply, bio-energy, alternative energy uses, cost-effective utilities for businesses in the region and, of course, the Ballarat West Employment Zone,” she said.
“We have worked on the zone for such a long time. Government is behind it, the Western Link Road is there to facilitate it – now we have to take it to implementation as a core priority of the committee.”
She called for the new council to continue its close ties with the Committee for Ballarat, and for renewed backing for the organisation’s action plan, which calls for initiatives such as faster and more reliable train services, job creation, upgraded information and communications technology and improved health care.
“A new council will always set their own new priorities, and they will do that through a new council plan and a budget in the next few months,” she said.
Ms Verlin said the end of her term and new responsibilities brought mixed emotions.
“We woke up this morning and my husband and I said we were pleased not to be involved.
“I have had 10 great years in local government and I have enjoyed them all ... but there are different times for different things and I am looking forward to the challenge of Committee for Ballarat.”
Commerce Ballarat executive officer Jodie Gillett said the new council’s top priorities should include the Ballarat West Employment Zone, sustained economic development and the Civic Hall site.
“We would also urge a commitment to the attraction and retention of tourism and events,” she said.
“Tourism and events do not always benefit every business directly, but the additional spending occurring through visitation and local participation is most definitely a positive financial outcome for our city over time.”
Ms Gillett said her organisation’s 600 members wish the new council every success and hope for close and effective ties throughout the community.
“Ballarat is fortunate to have business groups such as ourselves, Committee for Ballarat, Ballarat Regional Tourism and the Australian Industry Group, who are committed to and work hard to support local business and to grow our economy, these groups have strong relationships and work collaboratively in Ballarat which is not necessarily the case in other major centres,” she said.