Grab a pot at coun­cil meet

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS -

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.

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