More than 50 residents of San Remo and surrounding areas attended a community consultation session hosted by the Bass Coast Shire council on Tuesday, January 17. ms010417

A SWIMMING pool, improvements to medical facilities, and a hospital for Phillip Island were prominent topics of discussion at a recent council engagement session held in San Remo.
Members of the community were invited along to a Bass Coast Shire Council community engagement session on Tuesday, January 17 at the San Remo Community Centre.
More than 50 people were in attendance, eager to make suggestions to the council.
Ideas and suggestions are currently being gathered by the shire, as they work towards putting together their council plan for 2017-2020.
Mayor Pamela Rothfield said to the 50 plus group on Tuesday that she hoped the council plan would be informed by the ideas of the people.
“We want more of a community plan, not a council plan,” Cr Rothfield said.
Councillors Bruce Kent, Stephen Fullarton and Les Larke were also in attendance at the engagement session.
The people of San Remo were asked to put down on paper what it is that they enjoy most about the shire, and what issues they would like to see rectified.
Some common issues mentioned on the night include:
– Seal Shetland Heights road
– Provision of sealed, connecting footpaths and bike paths
– The revision or development of a master plan for Phillip Island
– Safer and smoother traffic flow
– Better medical facilities for the San Remo community
– A pool for Phillip Island
– Effective community engagement from council
Cr Les Larke said that, thus far, the interaction between councillors and the community was going swimmingly.
“The community interaction is good,” Cr Larke said.
“I think we do need to focus on managing the finances and resourcing side of things. We’ve got to resolve that first, to do the things that the people want.”
Effective communication and engagement between the council and the community was a topic mentioned several times throughout the evening.
Newhaven resident and former acting planning strategic coordinator at the Bass Coast Shire, Jeff Nottle, said that clear communication is key to future success.
“What I think the council needs to do is make it 100 per cent clear where an engagement on an issue is sitting on that IAP2 spectrum,” Jeff said. “Because if you suggest to people that it’s a wide engagement that’s open slather, all you get it disappointment.”
Jeff is an active member of the Phillip Island Conservation Society, the Preserve Westernport Action Group, and is a previous Citizen of the Year for Bass Coast, and also has internationally recognised training in engagement processes.
He said that it was important that both the community and the council understand what can and cannot be achieved before starting any engagement process.
“I think engagement is an over-used word. There are different levels of engagement,” Jeff said.
“I’ve been through this process, in this hall, about 10 years ago. Any comments from the community about issues that are way outside the scope of what the council can actually do, that’s actually an indicator of the council to effectively engage with the community and to tell them what they can and cannot do.”