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The Bendigo Alliance has called on City of Greater Bendigo to abandon its proposed two per cent rate hike and six per cent increases in waste collection fees.

The Alliance also wants council to remove more than 80 new charges and fees that are included in the draft budget.

President Max Turner said: “Council is totally out of step with the community in its ill-conceived drive to impose increases in rates, fees and charges on businesses and residents who have just taken a massive economic hit under COVID-19 restrictions.

“Postcodes within the Greater Bendigo council boundaries are among the worst hit suburbs and towns across Australia,” he said. “Recovery will be harder and longer unless council opens its eyes to the challenges for economic and social survival being faced by people across Bendigo, Heathcote and our other towns and provides real relief.”

Mr Turner said any rate and fee increases would hamper local recovery and further disadvantage Bendigo compared with other major regional centres.

“In Bendigo rates are proposed to go up two per cent, waste collection up six per cent and in a grubby bid to impose taxation by stealth, council wants to bring in 80 new fees and charges yet in Ballarat, there has been a total freeze on rates and charges,” he said.

“The Bendigo Alliance is aghast that council has even contemplated taking a poorly-judged whack at local businesses trying to employ local people, at residents. “Council, if it genuinely cares for the people of Bendigo beyond patronising statements, will immediately ditch any rate and charge increases.”

Greater community consultation and canvassing of the best options for Bendigo’s future are the aims of the new Bendigo Alliance ahead of planned council elections in October.

“The Bendigo Alliance will consider support of any candidates in the October election who stand on a platform of putting Bendigo first and ending the extravagant and costly betrayal of our city and independence that the dud GovHub now represents for our independence as a leading regional city.”

“It’s time the community was treated with greater respect and taken into the confidence of an open and transparent new council.”

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