Community plan generated in Pearl Beach
A grass-roots, community-driven plan for the new Central Coast Council has been generated out of Pearl Beach.
One of the chief instigators of the plan, Ettalong resident Ms Marcelle Hoff said it was timely that the group behind the plan held a public meeting in Pearl Beach on Saturday, June 24, to take the initiative into the "action" stage.
"The period for public consultation concerning the contents of our Community Plan is rapidly being replaced by the need for action and decisions," Ms Hoff said.
She said the meeting that was held on June 24 was held to digest feedback received, discuss recent activities and research, understand the landscape and determine strategies.
Declared or potential candidates for the September 9 Central Coast Council election were invited to attend the meeting, along with supporters or potential supporters of the Community Plan.
"The meeting was important for those who wanted the Central Coast Council to be truly representative of the wishes of ratepayers to forge a sustainable and equitable future for them," Ms Hoff said.
Community members have been meeting at Pearl Beach regularly since March to put together a comprehensive, community-driven plan for the future of the Central Coast.
Ms Hoff, who had spent two years as an independent councillor on the City of Sydney Council, said she believed the Community Plan should give people a "sense of awareness of what they can do if they are passionate and put their mind to it."
She said she worked with Dr Van Davy of Pearl Beach to put the first draft of the Community Plan together based on her experience as a City of Sydney councillor and Deputy Mayor.
"I knew I had the knowledge to help put the plan together and, even though I had only lived here for a short time, I had perceived a high level of chaos in the local government, culminating in the amalgamation of the two former councils," she said.
"We then held a series of meetings to work on all 18 categories covered in the Community Plan to present a preferred future for the Central Coast as determined by its residents.
"The process is about the local government making a commitment to the community, a community that seems not to be recognised, to be alienated.
"It has been difficult for people to be heard.
"People have questioned why the Community Plan includes State and Federal Government issues but I wanted people to understand that local government has a place in negotiating with state and federal governments on issues of importance to the community."
Ms Hoff said one individual who had declared herself as an independent candidate in the September 9 election had already committed to supporting the Community Plan.
"We want more candidates to commit to the plan between now and the election," she said.
According to Ms Hoff the Community Plan can be integrated with the NSW Government's Central Coast Regional Plan 2036 and the Central Coast Council's Community Strategic Plan, which is currently under development.
"They can be integrated but that doesn't mean they will have a lot in common."
She said it was the view of members of the group who'd put together the Community Plan, that both the Regional Plan and the current process for putting together the combined Council's first strategic plan were both "paying lip service to the real concerns of the community".
Ms Hoff and Mr Davy have both declared that they will not be running as candidates in the September 9 local election.
"The grass roots, face-to-face nature of local government is what drew me to it in the first place and we are hopeful that other individuals will place enough value on real community representation to commit to the Community Plan in their campaigns," she said.
The plan can be accessed at http://centralcoast.communityplan.com.au and comment from the community is invited until mid-July.
The 18 policy categories included are: good governance, ethical behaviour and anti-corruption; commitment to consult; environment; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander futures; workers and families, youth; arts, culture and the performing arts; health and hospitals; roads and transport; education; small business; pensioners; housing; economy; social cohesion and democracy; caring; emergency services; and public amenity.
Each of the 18 policies includes a purpose for the Council holding each policy or a reason why the Council should be active in the policy area, and a series of actions that Council must take to achieve each of the 18 purposes.
Interview, 21 Jun 2017
Marcelle Hoff, Ettalong
Website, 21 Jun 2017
Reporter: Jackie Pearson