Grab a pot at council meet
A GALLERY of long-forgotten mayors and steam from a tea urn blend in the corridor next to the City Hall room where councillors usually meet.
But, on Tuesday night, Geelong’s elected representatives congregated in a hall next to schnitzels and schooners instead as part of a new exercise in bringing municipal matters to the people.
The Leopold Sportsmans Club was the setting for the City of Greater Geelong’s inaugural community focus committee.
It was a town hall meeting minus City Hall; breaking free of the procedural atmosphere that discourages some ratepayers from attending the monthly meetings.
More than 70 people attended. Many were in their golden years, some embracing the new municipal order by wearing thongs or Crocs.
Several farmers in work boots and trucker caps gravitated to the back of the forum, clearly interested in the future of the Geelong saleyards.
The relative informality was apparent either side of the council bench.
Geelong Mayor Bruce Harwood was sans tie and appeared more sociable than his City Hall persona. The amiable master of cer- emonies bantered with the audience.
Adding to the questionand-answer style, a council officer holding a clipboard scooted around the venue, taking down the details of questioners.
It was probably the first council meeting in a generation where a glass of amber ale was openly consumed (by the audience at least).
Surely for some it made the 70-minute session more tolerable.
“(Tuesday night) was great, we had a good crowd, a diverse range of questions covering lots of topics, some very relevant, some very emotional, but I think it went well,” the mayor said.
“You’re always under a little bit of pressure because the community expectation is very high — when a question is asked, they want to get an answer or response that meets their needs, so I think we’ve gone OK for the first one.”
The next community focus committee will be held on March 13, returning to the Leopold Sportsmans Club.
You never know, one of the councillors might shout you a beer.
– ALEX SINNOTT
Cr Jim Mason will head the new committee, which will look at options to replace the saleyards.