Local council elections happen every four years on the fourth Saturday in October. The most recent council elections were held on Saturday 22 October 2016. Margot Smith and Libby Coker were re-elected to represent the Anglesea Ward, which includes Anglesea, Aireys Inlet and Fairhaven. As in 2012, there was only one vacancy and one candidate in the Lorne Ward (which includes Eastern View and Moggs Creek), and Clive Goldsworthy continues as the ward councillor.
As also occurred prior to both the 2008 and 2012 Council elections, AIDA provided all candidates for the 2016 election with the opportunity to express their views or position on four questions selected to address key areas of interest to our membership. In this way AIDA aims to provide an even-handed opportunity for our members to understand each candidate’s views on these key matters, and to compare them with those of other candidates. At no stage prior to the election does AIDA recommend or publicly favour any individual candidate. The candidates’ responses were collated and circulated to our members by email or post before the election was held. The responses from the candidates for the Anglesea ward are shown below, while the responses from candidates from all the wards in the Shire (see below) can be seen by clicking 2016-scs-candidate-responses. AIDA’s questions and the responses from the candidates for the 2012 election can be seen by clicking 2012 Council candidates questionnaire.
The Surf Coast Shire is divided into four wards.
- Torquay Ward (four councillors)
- Winchelsea Ward (two councillors)
- Anglesea Ward (two councillors)
- Lorne Ward (one councillor)
The 2016 candidates for the Anglesea and Lorne wards, which encompass our district were:
Anglesea Ward – Libby Coker (re-standing), Jenna Robinson (new), Margot Ann Smith (re-standing)
Lorne Ward – Clive Goldsworthy (re-standing, automatically elected as only candidate, did not respond to the questionnaire)
If you would like to view the election statements from these candidates and those from all the other wards in the Shire, go to: https://www.vec.vic.gov.au/SurfCoastElection/Candidates/ (You have to click “expand all” to see the statements).
Q1 What aspects of the neighbourhood character of Aireys Inlet to Eastern View do you consider most important, and how should Council seek to protect them?
Open space, an emphasis on the natural landscape, low-key built form, respect for vistas and green belts between townships.
These elements are part of our neighbourhood character and are identified in the Surf Coast Shire Planning Scheme, Open Space Strategy and the Aireys Inlet to Eastern View Structure Plan.
Council, councillors and the planning committee must abide by these guidelines when making decisions. Promotion of guidelines to relevant agencies and the community is also vital to ensure our neighbourhood character is protected into the future.
The emphasis on vegetation and understated development of Aireys Inlet to Eastern View creates a neighbourhood character consistent with a small coastal town with a country feel. This unique character enables the residential areas to remain submerged in the bushland but accessible to the beautiful beaches on offer. I believe this character is important to retain; development should not be at expense of the environment. Any approvals by Council should consider the area’s structure plan, overlays that are in place, changing environmental conditions and community views on the proposal. Council must always be progressive and stay ‘in the present’.
Margot Ann Smith
The recently completed and endorsed structure plan outlines the values and principles of the community and in particular the importance of protecting the coastal character village feel of the township. It can be challenging given the visitation to our area, but it is paramount that we respect and protect what we value and focus on our agreed key actions.
Q2 The Surf Coast Shire Council noted in its minutes of March 28th 2012 the decision to “Endorse for all future infrastructure solutions in sensitive coastal areas a design approach in sympathy with the local neighbourhood character and request that engagement with impacted communities occurs prior to the commencement of design work to ensure communities contribute to proposed infrastructure solutions.” How would you ensure that this approach is implemented consistently?
Over the past two terms of Council, much work has been done to ensure community is engaged in planning of infrastructure solutions. There are a few exceptions when systems have failed. Ie. the use of white rope fencing in the Painkalac Valley.
To ensure community engagement is front and centre in infrastructure planning, we need: A culture within Council that is community-focused and encourages engagement / participation in local infrastructure planning
Computer systems that flag/remind/emphasize community engagement in infrastructure planning.
To work closely with other agencies on infrastructure projects including Parks Victoria, Life Saving Clubs, VicRoads and Great Ocean Road Coast Committee.
The responsibility of a Councillor is to represent the community in which they are elected. This requires widespread community consultation. I believe this is why the Ward system works well; constant face-to-face contact between the Ward Councillors and members of the public ensures the community voice is heard on a daily basis. Living and working in the area, continuing to volunteer my time for community events, speaking with local clubs and promoting engagement through varied platforms will ensure this approach is implemented consistently. Educating and involving more people in nature based activities will further promote sensitivity to the neighbourhood character.
Margot Ann Smith
We would have to give a ‘fail’ on the underpass at Fairhaven. Community engagement was limited and the resources of Council were not used to broaden the scope, inform the community and address ALL issues and concerns. I believe this last four years has seen a significant commitment by Councillors and Officers to improved community engagement and work with the community to solve some of our complex issues. Eg. Bells Beach Taskforce, and Rabbit Management Policy. This is really important to me and I want this approach to continue and to bring other agencies into the same space.
Q3 One of the key findings of the Aireys Inlet to Eastern View Structure Plan, November 2015 is that Council “Not progress the development of an active recreation space in the Painkalac Creek Valley.” This finding is repeated in the Shire’s Open Space Strategy (2016-2025). How would you ensure that this finding is implemented and that the other conditions protecting the valley are maintained?
The draft Aireys Inlet to Eastern View Structure Plan, currently before the State Planning Minister, identifies Aireys Inlet School as a location for active recreation. Council will work with the school community and the Education Department to support this approach while facilitating sharing of sports facilities in Lorne/Anglesea/Bellbrae/Torquay.
Many families remain committed to securing an Aireys Inlet active recreational space to play competitive sport. This continues to be a controversial issue for the town.
I support the concept of involving the youth of our area in more outdoor sports. However, the placement of this facility should not be at the expense of the environment. In fact, the best part about our community is the gratification that members receive from being outdoors and enjoying its unique features. The Painkalac Creek Valley is a significant natural feature of Aireys and the Structure Plan highlights the need to conserve the area. I think we should lead by example – get outdoors! I enjoy trail running, nature photography, mountain biking and hiking and enjoy promoting these activities.
Margot Ann Smith
My support for this has been reinforced with statements at the last two Council meetings. I am concerned the meeting last week attempted to open up the debate yet again and by people who choose to not participate in the recent consultation. Council has a plan for recreational space at the school and while it might not be full size it certainly allows for a safe recreational space. Those that see the valley as a potential space for ‘an oval’ or something that ‘let’s not call an oval’ do not have a vision that sits with the community agreed principles and values.
Q4 How should Council establish the best balance between increased tourism and the needs of the local community along our fragile coastline?
Tourism is important to local jobs and our economy but we must ensure tourism initiatives are consistent with community expectations, “add value” for local people and are considerate of our coastal environment. These principles must be embedded in Council policies and decision-making.
For example, Council’s event policy stresses that events must fit with Surf Coast character, be preferably held in low-peak times, be environmentally sustainable and enrich lives of local people.
Council must also work with agencies including Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism Board and Regional Development Victoria to promote Council’s stance and get the best outcome for our region.
The balance between tourism and the needs of the locals will always be an issue faced by Council. Local businesses heavily rely on tourism but are adversely affected by unexpected slumps in visitation caused by bushfires and floods. This highlights the need for year-round sustainable tourism. The Shire’s tourism board and Councillors should regularly engage with the community and organisations such as Anglesea Adventure and LoveLorne to determine ways in which year-round tourism can assist the area without impacting our residents’ way of life. Facilities that benefit both tourists and locals will assist this; public toilets, picnic areas, better signage
Margot Ann Smith
We need to be careful with development and ensure it is sympathetic. Much of the growth is traffic – day trippers – and there is only so much capacity on the road. We need to be clear about where we want the tourists to stop, provide amenity in those locations so they will want to stop, but also ensure the local communities are not inconvenienced. Much of this is sticking to the principles one decision at a time.