Cr Brian Hood

The past month has featured a number of signature events for our Shire.

We celebrated International Women’s Day by inducting five worthy nominees into the Heather Mutimer Honour Roll, acknowledging their wonderful contributions to our communities over many years, and enjoyed another fantastic Chillout festival. The second sustainability fair was held last weekend, showcasing all things sustainability.

The community support for those three events was wonderful and I also thank Council’s hardworking staff who staged those events so professionally.

Three important announcements were made in the past month. Local State MP and Minister for Ambulance Services Mary-Anne Thomas announced the creation of a new ambulance station for the shire, located in Trentham. This critically important function will serve local communities well and take some pressure off existing facilities. This welcome step forward again illustrates the effectiveness of advocacy from community groups and Council.

A second announcement was the impending temporary closure of Daylesford Town Hall for much-needed renovations, including a new roof and electrical systems. Council is doing the right and respectful thing by restoring this historic building. Through the period of these works the opportunity will be taken to explore how the functionality of the building can be optimised for the community’s benefit, possibly encompassing the inclusion of the Daylesford library into this site. That will depend on expert advice. Tonight’s agenda will consider the formation of a PAG to help steer that important project.

Thirdly, the state government announced the outcome of the electoral review conducted late last year. For Hepburn Shire the October 2024 election will be based on an unsubdivided model, meaning the seven councillors will come from anywhere across the shire and will not represent a ward. Ahead of the election Council will, in conjunction with the VEC, provide information to the community on the workings of this model and some broader information on the role of a councillor.

Finally, tonight’s agenda also includes the half-year financial report and mid-year budget review.

In the context of compiling a fresh 10-year financial plan the financial position at December again discloses a tightly constrained cash position. There are no surprises there. Sector-wide challenges, and some challenges specific to Hepburn Shire, focus attention on diligent cost control and the setting of affordable strategic priorities. That is the context in which councillors will be setting the long-term direction.

Looking ahead….I encourage community members to attend the festivities at Clunes Booktown this coming weekend and Cresfest in a couple of weeks.

Cr Hood is the Hepburn Shire Mayor and a Councillor for Coliban Ward.