Chamber rejects Leongatha group

LEONGATHA’S peak business group remains opposed to the prospect of a new community group for Leongatha being driven by South Gippsland Shire Council.
Leongatha Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Brenton Williams said the chamber had rejected the possibilty of a round table-type group for the town. He was disappointed council last Thursday voted to talk to local organisations about their desirability to establish leadership structures and a community plan for Leongatha.
The proposal, by Cr Don Hill, was controversial, with the chamber and some councillors saying Cr Hill should have consulted the community before raising the proposal at council.
Councillors debated the matter for the third time last Thursday. Council will now receive a report by May 30, 2018 from council’s community strengthening team, about how to work with local organisations to see if they are interested in a group that could resemble the successful Korumburra Round Table group that comprises representatives of community groups.
Mr Williams said the chamber told Cr Hill it did not want to proceed but he still persevered.
“He is wasting ratepayers’ time. All the groups in the town are already working together now. None of us want it,” Mr Williams said.
Cr Hill said media coverage of his proposal had prompted the community to talk about his idea. He said he has received supportive feedback from the Leongatha community.
“This is not council led. We are just having a conversation with the community,” he said, noting the community would decide what happens.
Cr Meg Edwards was the only opposing councillor, saying, “There are some good groups already working together in Leongatha.”
Cr Andrew McEwen said the Korumburra Round Table had led to more funding coming to Korumburra.
“The reality is that Leongatha has got some very strong organisations,” he said.
“There is no one structure or process that pulls all those people together as a united voice in the community.”
Cr Ray Argento and Cr Alyson Skinner backed the idea, and Cr Maxine Kiel said, “When I first read it, I felt it was a slap in the face for all those people who volunteer mega hours for the community”, but she now supported the idea.
Cr Jeremy Rich said, “I wonder when we ask the question ‘Do we talk to the community first or lead as we were elected to lead?’”
He said Cr Hill was leading by addressing a gap in Leongatha.
Council also voted to receive a report on a policy framework by July 2018 to “potentially use such district coordinating bodies across the shire to strengthen community engagement and partnerships”.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=24787

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