If past performance is and indicator the upcoming Mayoral elections may see the young pup steal the golden bone from the old hound.
Earlier this year a vote of ‘No Confidence’ was passed by council in current Mayor Ian Lobsey, a vote that still stands.
Since then, Deputy Mayor, Andrew Hope – who is also a local business owner- has amassed time and experience on the inner workings of local council and will be nominating for the role of Mayor at the upcoming internal Liverpool Plains Shire Council elections this September.
Councillor Rob Webster has stated he will support Andrew Hope as the new Mayor and will be nominating for the role of Deputy Mayor.
While Mayor Lobsey and Deputy Hope both list the councils top issues as roads, rates, water and the continuance of the Liverpool Plains as a stand alone shire, councillor Hope says he stands for honest open representation, encourages development to the shire and offers fresh new ways to think and operate with a focus on financial sustainability and accountability.
“If elected as Mayor I would encourage small medium and large business to set up in our shire and also potential investors to invest as we need growth to stand alone into the future.”
The Deputy Mayor said he would also like to see more transparent communication from the council to ratepayers.
“I would like to see more communication on what council is doing on all fronts before we do it and I would encourage the community to participate in the decision making processes of council.”
Councillor Hope said he would plan to hold some council meetings outside of business hours to allow ratepayers who work during the day time the opportunity to attend meetings.
Mr Hope says he will also address cost shifting from other levels of government; hold up’s at Rail crossings in the shire and the general cost of living if elected Mayor in September.
“We all understand that services need to be paid for but the cost of these is just going up all the time putting strain on all levels of people in our community particularly the elderly trying to live on pensions and the family’s on low income we are in a no win situation with some of these so we are trying to manage these rises and save where we can.”
Councillor Hope believes it takes a team, much debate and strong resources to come to what can sometimes be very difficult decisions in local council.
“Sometimes you come away with a different point of view after listening to strong, well informed, intelligent debate and reading the well formatted information you are supplied in council, this means the process of healthy debate is working. I feel as councillors we should not vote on motions without healthy debate as we are elected to do so by the ratepayer.”
Deputy Mayor Hope feels significant changes have already been undertaken by the current team of councilors with guidance from management.
“We have restructured within council to meet some of the challenges we as a rural/regional shire face. We have achieved a more modest rate rise to lessen the impact on ratepayers and found large cost savings in council.”
According to Councillor Hope, there are always smarter more cost effective ways to do day-to-day business and this is what he is working to achieve as a councillor.
“The day you stop looking for smarter more cost effective ways to do things is the day you fall behind the eight ball as the world is changing faster every day and the challenges are becoming greater.”
Current Mayor Ian Lobsey is keen to retain his Mayoral position and believes local Government is vital to small communities as it directly represents the people.
“We are the level of Government that has direct contact with the people. In addition to that our people expect us to represent them at State and Federal level. Much of our time is occupied in lobbying for the betterment of the local community.”
Mayor Lobsey says he is confident he has achieved a great deal during his time as Mayor and lists some of the achievements of this council as, obtaining substantial expenditure on regional roads ($2.2 million over the past four years -Gap Road and Quirindi – Werris Creek Road) – the upgrading and establishment of a recreation area at the Quipolly Dam, securing water supply at Wallabadah and continual lobbying for a water strategy with both State and Federal politicians.
Regardless of the outcome of September’s election, Mayor Lobsey will stay in the role of councillor.
“I will continue to honor the commitment I made to represent constituents for the remainder of this term of council. I will serve in whatever role I am offered.”
The next twelve months of council will be influenced heavily by the release of the report of the Independent Review Panel.
“That report will determine whether more cost cutting has to take place, the report is due to be handled down very shortly.”
When asked why ratepayers are paying for tickets for both the Mayor and General Manager to head to China on a networking tour next month the Mayor said that both he and the General Manager had already paid for air tickets before council opted to fund the tickets.
“Council resolved that it should be funded by council and all the details are available in council Minutes.”
The aim of the August trip is to benefit the ratepayers by securing a Friendship Agreement with the City of Jimo to benefit the trade and tourism of the Liverpool Plains Shire.
“We also hope to establish cultural, educational and tourism arrangements with Jimo. In addition we will be working towards establishing any Trade links that we can.”
The September Mayoral elections are an internal election process, with the 7 councillors voting for the positions of Mayor and Deputy Mayor.