The Bass Coast Shire Council has just had its most shameful week in its term of office to date.
It started with the results of the State Government Community Satisfaction Survey, released last week, which was absolutely the worst ever in the history of the shire and there is no sign that councillors have got the message as to how fed up the community is with their woeful performance.
When the annual Community Satisfaction Survey was released last year and they were at the bottom of the barrel, I said at least they couldn’t go any lower but I was wrong.
Overall their pathetic performance is actually worse in many areas with Phillip Island residents clearly seething.
Support from Island residents slid a further seven percentage points compared to last year and a dramatic 11 percentage points lower than the average rating on the measure of decision making in the community interest.
They see the Council outcomes in the area of community decision making as pathetic.
Overall the Council still rates below the average on almost all areas compared to the State average and compared to similar Councils in Victoria defined as large rural Councils.
Bass Coast Council’s pathetic results are lower than almost every area compared to similar Council’s and also lower than the State wide average in just about every area of service delivery.
Councillors should hang their heads in shame that they have taken us to the bottom of the barrel. Their response to last year’s survey was to bring in highly paid PR consultants to advise how to lift their media image and the mind numbing spin and PR stunts have been relentless ever since.
They have spent around $2 million on consultants overall, bought themselves new iPads to replace their perfectly good machines and continually tell us how good they are.
They say they want to consult and listen and then they just brush aside what the community has said they want and need.
Their decision to send the issue of a desperately needed footpath along Surf Parade in Inverloch off to yet another highly paid consultant is but another example of how incompetent and out of control this Greens-led Council is.
The so-called traffic calming devices recently installed along Surf Parade have created a looming traffic nightmare throughout the coming summer tourist season.
Almost everyone in Inverloch sees the folly of what the Council has done with the Surf Parade scandal which is now also in the hands of highly paid consultants.
Just like the three-year-long dog fiasco in Inverloch this is another scandal.
Also of concern is the Council’s management and comments made about the Wonthaggi Cemetery by councillor and, in particular, the former mayor Neil Rankine.
The comments attributed to him last week that Councillors preferred to ‘look after the living and not the dead’ are an utter disgrace. Any councillor who thinks like this should hang their head in shame.
It is even more concerning coming from Cr Rankine as he is the Ward Councillor for the region which takes in the Wonthaggi township where the cemetery is located. It is in his patch and he has additional responsibilities as the ward Councillor to look after issues and amenities in his own ward.
The Bass Coast Shire Council has both a legal as well as a moral responsibility to look after the Wonthaggi Cemetery as they are the legal guardians and managers of the Cemetery Trust. They themselves are the Trustees and as such they have a legal obligation to look after the dead.
It is exactly the same with the San Remo Cemetery where they are also the Trustees.
For most of the thousands of people born in Wonthaggi over the past 105 years, this is their final resting place and any decent, civilised society has an obligation to respect and look after their dead.
Like thousands of others I have immediate family buried in the Wonthaggi Cemetery and for me it is a place of reverence, respect, memories and fondness.
I think it is outrageous for councillors to take the view they don’t look after the dead when they themselves are the trustees and committee of management.
I feel sad for the small band of volunteers some of whom have toiled for decades working away cleaning up and doing their very best to keep the cemetery as neat and presentable as possible. They have done a sterling job and they should be hailed as community heroes.
The Council didn’t pay for the recently released master plan as it was financed by a Government grant and the $50,000 they agreed to release toward further work flowing on from the master plan came directly from the funds received from the estates of people who are buried at the Wonthaggi Cemetery”.
The councillor’s recent announcement that they will double fees to be buried at the cemetery to well over $2000 is proof positive they couldn’t care less about looking after the dead.
This new fee is not the actual cost of the funeral or burial but only for permission to be able to be buried at the Wonthaggi Cemetery.
They drain the long suffering ratepayers financially whilst they are alive and now clearly it will continue when they are dead.
What a disgraceful week of conduct and outcomes for the Bass Coast Shire Council.
Alan Brown, Inverloch