Mayor snubs public meeting call
A request by Max Turner and Lindsay Sergeant to City of Greater Bendigo to hold a public meeting on 1 May to discuss council's decision to sell prime CBD real estate to the State Government for GovHub has been rejected.
In an email this morning, 1 April at 8.35am, Mayor Margaret O'Rourke wrote:
Good Afternoon Max and Lindsay,
Thank you for your email on 22 March 2019 that was addressed to myself and my fellow Councillors. We have discussed your email as a group and agreed that I would provide single response on behalf of all Councillors.
It was pleasing to read in your email that you are not against the concept of a GovHub or Council office consolidation. I am aware that Development Victoria will be conducting focus groups with the community to enable input in key elements of the development, including the design, planning and potential economic opportunities associated with the overall project. These sessions will be an ideal opportunity for you both to positively contribute to this exciting project.
In your email you also requested Councillors to organise a GovHub public information and question and answer forum. The Council is satisfied that the process to inform and then make this decision has been transparent. As a Council, we have considered your request to organise a public forum and advise that it is not supported.
In arriving at our decision not to organise another forum on the matter, we have considered the following items, which all demonstrate the transparency of the decision making process:
An extensive report on GovHub, including the options considered, was publically released with the Council agenda prior to the meeting
In the lead up to the Council meeting, Councillors, invited, received and responded to multiple enquiries about the projectThe Council meeting was open to the public, community members were present in the gallery to listen to the debate for this project. During the debate of this item, each Councillor spoke at length about their views on the GovHub project, and the City of Greater Bendigo’s future involvement in the projectAs I recall, all but one Councillor required an extension of time, some multiple, to enable them ample time to express their views on the topic.
As a Council, we are committed to being accessible to the community, and do this in many ways, including Ward meetings and tours, Councillor listening posts, attendance at community groups, responding to correspondence and social media updates.
As I mentioned earlier in my email, I am aware that Development Victoria will be conducting focus groups on key aspects of the project which will provide a great opportunity for our community to positively contribute to this exciting project.
Sadly, we do not think this was an April Fool's Day response