Sunday, March 18, 2018

Letters to the Editor

Editor February 16, 2017


Dear Editor,

Fascinating letter in The Adviser on February 1 from Shepparton Chamber of Commerce and Industry spokesperson, Carl Hainsworth and very predictable following some commentary by myself on the future of the CBD in early January.

Immediately my comments were published one of the long term mall antagonists contacted council for my service record which unsurprisingly turns up detailed in Carl’s letter which suggests the letter may not entirely be original work.

The aforesaid serial whinger along with another who prefers to have others do his work has long been an advocate of developing a Maude Mall Car Park.

Carl and his silent partners selectively quote statistics from 20 years ago purporting to demonstrate overwhelming support for the new car park however they fail to mention the consultation with the public then undertaken by council that recorded a whopping 84 percent of the public opposed a reopening.

Not-withstanding that opposition council of which I was mayor at the time produced a two page spread in the Shepparton News with a design concept for increased parking at the North, South and Western ends of the mall joined by a one way slow moving road to allow traffic movement. The lift out indicated the costings and budget provisions and one would have expected general trader support for the concept and any concerns could have been rectified in the detailed design phase and the works with slow moving traffic and increased parking would have been completed fifteen years ago.  The component of the plan which was completed was the Fraser Street Car Park.

If as Carl suggests that the vast majority of traders and landlords eighteen years ago supported increased parking and slow moving traffic why did his organisation oppose a concept plan that would have delivered exactly that? The answer to that vexed question lies in perceptions of who were perceived individual trader winners and losers and who pulled the strings at the chamber.

The two car park proponents stupidly and publicly attacked the concept plan and Carl’s predecessor lot dutifully fell in behind to scuttle that sort of thinking.

Amazingly that very concept plan has been included in the latest round of consultation and I am advised been favourably received which will not suit Carl’s puppeteers.

Carl makes a point of highlighting that I made a similar call for a community forum prior to the 2012 election and bemoans the fact that I did not deliver on the proposed forum.  Sadly when you rely on others with a vested interest to do your research, or worse write your stuff the quality control and accuracy drops off. Carl you may be surprised to know the forum proposal withered away because I was not elected in 2012 hence its return at this point.

This type of selective rewriting of history comes at a time when the chamber seeks to form a Memorandum of Understanding with council to define roles and responsibilities and for council to substantially fund the chamber operation.

My view on CBD redevelopment which I expressed during the election, personally to Carl and his predecessor on many occasions was that any infrastructure spend needed to be linked to marketing and promotion and operating hours and yet all we hear from the chamber is the Maude Street Car Park mantra.

Shepparton attracts many people per year to sporting and cultural events with an economic return to the region in excess of $40M and yet the biggest complaint that council gets is the CBD specialty shops are closed at weekends.  No doubt as other serious economic drivers like SAM come on board bringing even more visitors, the chamber will still be focusing on the pros and cons of a car park while at the same time purporting to present some vague concept of future strategic planning.

It would be nice to see the chamber jettison the vocal puppeteers and seek to form a real partnership with council based on trust and confidence to deliver mutually agreed outcomes.

Yours Sincerely,

Chris Hazelman

Greater Shepparton City Council Councillor



Dear Editor,

On a recent beautiful summer morning I took myself down to the Queens Gardens. The date was January 26; Australia Day. I usually attend this day as I enjoy the welcoming of our new citizens. The day was well conducted with music being provided by our talented local group, Fortissimo. Our Australia Day Ambassador, Ms Betty Kitchener OAM, gave a thoughtful and personal speech that seemed to resonate with the gathering. The various awards were well deserved and the Mayor, Cr Dinny Adams, welcomed our new citizens with style and genuine warmth. John Harboard carried out his MC duties without fuss.

The whole show was held together by a group of council employees who, though nearly invisible, ensured that the event went smoothly. So it’s well done to those people who very rarely get noticed until something goes haywire! What, you say no whinging? Well actually I do have some concerns but hopefully these will not be seen as whinging.

First, why does the crowd seem to get smaller each year? Shepparton with a population in excess of thirty thousand should be able to muster at least a thousand people on a beautiful summer morning in a lovely location. If the new citizens and their support groups were not in attendance then it would have been a pitiful crowd.

I think it has to be the format, which seems to have become ‘tired.’ Suggestions? Yes I have a few. Flag raising, a small but significant part of the proceedings should involve the community through nominations for the task. Nominations ‘vetted’ by the committee and final choice by ballot. Schools to have a role by one school per year providing musical events. Musical items should reflect the theme of the day. Think ‘I still Call Australia Home’ and ‘I am Australian’ plus ‘Waltzing Matilda.’ There are others.

Each year one cultural group to provide a cultural dance or song. Just a few suggestions that may put a bit more ‘pep’ into proceedings thus broadening the crowd. I would love to suggest ‘Yorta Yorta Man’ as one of the songs but I know that we cannot do that till we do change the date of our Australia Day that will then be fully inclusive.

Yours sincerely,

Bill Brown