Council Beat: October 2023 Meeting

Finally: Gaskin Park Oval No 2 (left hand oval) in Churchill, will receive lighting upgrades, on top of long overdue surface upgrades. Churchill Football-Netball Club has fought a seemingly never ending battle to see its second oval improved. File photograph


LATROBE City Council reopened the gallery last Monday for its October 2 meeting.

Mayor Kellie O’Callaghan, councillors Sharon Gibson, Dale Harriman, Dan Clancey, Graeme Middlemiss, Tracie Lund, Darren Howe and Brad Law were physically present, including Cr Melissa Ferguson, which was notable as the South Ward councillor had been attending online well before meetings were held virtually.

There were quite a few changes since last time.

No longer accessible through the main foyer at the Gippsland Performing Arts Centre, observers were sent through an external door.

One notable addition to council meetings was an upscaled security presence, with multiple private security guards and several police officers.

While there were registered speakers for the meeting and recent online grievances about not having council physically accessible, only several stakeholders were sitting in the gallery – a far cry from the numbers seen at the start of the year.

Despite recent controversies and rallies, LCC’s October in-person meeting ran relatively smoothly.

Governance rules

AFTER loud community criticism of the review of council governance rules, Latrobe City Council approved the adoption of the new version but not without extensive debate.

Having operated under the old governance rules since August 2021, the new version had some moderations.

It is now compulsory under state government law for councils to develop, adopt and keep governance rules for conduct of council and rules of attendance by electronic means.

In adopting these new policies, council officers took a broader view of its governance rules and found several areas for improvement.

Moving the governance rules in council, Cr Howe said: “From the feedback, there have been several changes recommended – so we have listened.”

During consultation with the community, 25 submissions were received.

Ten objections were made to all of the proposed changes, three in relation to virtual meetings, five were about specific amendments or removal of clauses, another five were concerning matters outside the review, and two supported the changes.

Cr Harriman proposed an alternative that aimed to accept community-minded feedback, but which was ultimately shut down.

Crs Ferguson, Harriman and Gibson all opposed the new governance rules on the basis that community submissions were against the changes and certain existing rules.

Officers updated Rule 10 on virtual and hybrid meetings to confirm that, in addition to council’s approval, the chief executive is still authorised to change a council’s format, but only in places where there are extraordinary circumstances.

According to the proposed revisions to the governance rules, if a councillor is unable to satisfy the requirements of attending electronically, the meeting will proceed as long as a quorum is present, and the councillor may re-join the meeting.

Amendments were also made to notices of motion, with a requirement for councillors to provide reasoning behind their notice of motion.

Cr Middlemiss and Cr Clancey expressed their wish that the state government would standardise governance rules across the state’s municipalities to avoid the debate and discrepancies.

Council may change the governance rules down the track and will test out the new and revised version.

Moe Activity Centre Plan review

COUNCIL will now look to review and update the Moe Activity Centre plan, which was originally created in 2007.

This old plan paved the way for many projects in Moe including the Moe Library, the Moore and George Street upgrades, but will now be reviewed to plan for the future of the Moe CBD.

Council will also seek to attain funding from the Region Planning Hub for traffic and urban analysis to update the Moe plan.

New Energy Projects

COUNCIL increased its total funding allocation for new energy projects to $4.86 million ( a $403,780 increase).

The new energy projects include solar power generation installations and LED streetlight upgrades.

Council had previosuly approved the project and lower funding, but with costs rising, the allocation of more funding was needed to complete the project.

According to council officer reports, these projects will still save council $700,000 per year in electricity and maintenance costs, generate about $1.5 million in one-off rebates, and earn yearly income from large generation certificates.

Council also approved for the chief executive to award project contracts.

Currently, Ironbark Sustainability, a specialist consultancy, has been given the award for street lighting, while a tender has been received for the solar project.

Kay Street parking

THE state government’s Regional Car Parks Fund (RCPF) has promised to fund 900 car spaces across the Latrobe Valley.

With Kay Street, Traralgon identified as a place for a multi-storey car park, a reference group was approved that will ensure all stakeholders were informed and could officially voice their opinions and concerns.

The project reference group will consist of the chair Cr Howe and Cr Law, Grey Street Primary School, local businesses, state representatives, council officers and residents.

Gaskin Park Oval 2 funding

GASKIN Park Oval users in Churchill will be happy, as council will put aside $81,910 from council cash reserves towards an application for the 2023/24 Country Football and Netball Program.

The funding will go toward a lighting upgrade at Gaskin Park Oval 2.

This comes after funding was achieved for the oval’s resurfacing works earlier this year.

Cr Ferguson took to Facebook to thank Churchill Football-Netball Club for its patience as the club had waited for the facilities to be upgraded.

“The Churchill Football-Netball Club Inc has been so patient in awaiting their turn for this opportunity and it brings much joy to me as their councillor to see the endorsement passed through council,” she said.

“They are also one of the biggest fundraisers of sporting clubs to aid their upgrades. Incredible community efforts.”