By Michael Giles

TIS the season of good will and that certainly extends to the Bass Coast Shire Council which has been showing great signs in the past few months of being prepared to listen to the community and acting accordingly.
The first obvious occasion was when the Inverloch Surf Lifesaving Club couldn’t get any movement out of the shire administration and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning over its troubled patrol tower.
The shire told them point-blank the tower would have to be removed completely and they gave the club’s volunteers 30 days to act.
There was to be no compromise.
Convinced that there had to be a better way, the council’s three new Bunurong ward councillors; Brett Tessari, Julian Brown and Les Larke stepped in and wrote a letter to the Minister, and along the way, Bass MP Brian Paynter joined the fray as well.
Of course, there’s always a better way and after months of to-and-fro, the shire finally got with the program too and the result has been a terrific outcome for the community.
The shire moved quickly to establish an excellent new walkway to the beach, one that will support an ambulance if required and yesterday, the new level of cooperation resulted in the patrol tower being moved to a new location – brilliant!
We’ve also seen another good sign from the shire with its administration agreeing to hold off on the construction of a new rising main in Cuttriss Street, Inverloch, right out the front of the Australian award-winning Big Four Caravan Park, at its most crucial time of the year.
Having told local residents last Friday of the impending start to works this week, the shire has conceded the timing wasn’t ideal and rescheduled the works for February.
Once again Cr Brett Tessari and Cr Julian Brown were proactive on behalf of the community and it’s a better outcome all round.
These responses allow us to sit back and see some of the other really good things that the shire does around the place, helping to ensure that events like the Wonthaggi Carols by Candlelight go ahead, and the excellent work done to maintain our sports ovals; to name just a couple.
With both the construction works and the surf club problems, the local newspaper, the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times, had a role to play as well, in helping highlight the issues involved and bringing the parties together.
Similarly, when Rocket O’Neill, the proprietor of Abicor Southern, supplier of consumables to the hospitality sector in Bass Coast and South Gippsland, had his landline shut down by Telstra and the NBN, it took an article in the local newspaper to knock a few heads together and get Telstra and NBN talking.
Result: his old phone number was back up and running in two days after the article appeared on the front page (he’d been battling for more than two months with bureaucracy).
The facts being these; local shires can greatly improve their standing in the community if they have a well-connected council giving them good feedback on what’s practical, acceptable and necessary.
And the local newspaper has a vital role to play in keeping bureaucracies accountable as you’ll find in this week’s paper with the explanation given by VicRoads as to why they’ve introduced new 80km/h sections on several local roads.
Before the paper asked the question, on your behalf, there was no explanation.
And it’s the local advertisers who provide this service to the community, and another good reason to shop locally this Christmas.
From all of us at the Sentinel-Times, have a Happy Christmas and a Safe and Prosperous New Year!