Ballarat City Council: flight costs questioned

OLD SCHOOL: Paris, Rome and Ballarat are three of 113 members of the League of Historical Cities. Ballarat's place on the league board has been questioned.
OLD SCHOOL: Paris, Rome and Ballarat are three of 113 members of the League of Historical Cities. Ballarat's place on the league board has been questioned.

Ballarat City Council will send two representatives to an international meeting in Turkey, despite staff being unable to reveal the trip’s economic benefit.

Mayor Samantha McIntosh and a staff member will attend the League of Historical Cities board meeting in September.

Flight costs were estimated from $12,000 to $15,000, with host city, Bursa, to cover accommodation and food.

Council joined the league in 1998 and the board in 2006.

Cr Mark Harris said at council’s ordinary meeting on Wednesday night that Ballarat’s 11-year presence on the board should end.

“We have been a board member for a long time, and most boards need to be refreshed,” he said.

“I can’t see the value for money – when the officers were questioned it was fairly evident there was no demonstrable dollar value that could be put to it.

“I have not been a fan of it for some time.”

However Cr Harris said Ballarat should remain a league member.

Council development and planning director Angelique Lush said it was very difficult to quantify the economic benefit, when questioned at Wednesday night’s meeting.

“Certainly we could attempt to put a dollar figure to the benefit we have received in different aspects, but they would be estimates,” she said.

“So I would be cautious in how we present it, but we can put some numbers to it if desired by council.

“It is a very difficult thing to quantify the economic benefits trips such as this create.”

However Ms Lush said council had benefited from relationships with other cities, including the establishment of a sister-city relationship with Yangzhou in China.

“International investment, particularly with China, it takes years – years of consistent approach,” she said.

The league’s membership includes 113 cities from 64 countries. It was established in 1987.

Cr McIntosh said good relationships had already been built with other countries thanks to municipality’s involvement.

“MaxiTRANS have a site over there as well,” she said.

“Mount Clear has a significant relationship through schools, there was a UNESCO hosted international forum here in Ballarat, so they are quite significant opportunities.”

Council voted to approve a motion for the mayor and a staff member to attend the meeting on Wednesday night.