Shire tackles identity and focused growth in region

An Upper Lachlan Shire Council meeting in Gunning earlier this year. Photo: Bronwyn Hayes.

An Upper Lachlan Shire Council meeting in Gunning earlier this year. Photo: Bronwyn Hayes.

It was a conflict of identity which left the Upper Lachlan Shire council chambers silent on Thursday night.

What do we want to achieve?

This was posed by deputy mayor John Stafford and councillor Richard Opie after the council decided to send letters of congratulations to the Potato and Pumpkin festival organisers.

Congratulatory comments quickly morphed into a frank conversation about the direction in long-term and focused business planning for the Shire. 

Cr Oppie said the comments he received from Canberra attendees at the Potato Festival surrounded their surprise in the true location of Crookwell.

“For a long time we’ve been so unrecognised,” he said. 

“I think we’re wasting our time for a lot of things if we don’t recognise who we are. There’s no point spending money on advertising.” 

He also suggested the council should take a more proactive role with local businesses.

“We should be sitting down with business owners and asking what they are doing and what we can do to help them grow,” he said.

“For these business if we get them to grow there’s more investment opportunities and it could improve employment.” 

Cr Stafford called for specific business plans to answer where, how and what the Shire wanted to be, this included funding from the budget to be set aside for this goal.

“This warrants consideration going forward. We need to take charge of our own destiny,” Cr Stafford said.

General manager John Bell said the Department of Premier and Cabinet Regional Director Illawarra/South East Nigel McKinnon had recently contacted the ULSC.

As part of the state government’s Regional Economic Development Strategy Program an economic analysis is expected to take place in the Upper Lachlan and Goulburn Mulwaree area. 

Mr Bell said the sub regional economic development led by the state would be funded with no need to secure an external consultant as part of the 2017/18 budget.

“There are many activities across the Shire that people are not aware of,” Mayor Brian McCormack said, listing off the Taralga rodeo and Gunning fireworks. 

Cr James Wheelwright admitted the council was not achieving a lot and Cr Paul Culhane said priorities should be work shopped.

The ULSC expects to receive further information on the Regional Economic Development Strategy Program in coming weeks.

The mayor also suggested a follow up meeting between councillors on this issue soon.

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