Toodyay Progress Association
Larry Graham, Chair
TOODYAY RESIDENTS filled the town’s community centre for the inaugural meeting of our newly formed association.
Among them were the Toodyay Shire President, two former shire presidents, five serving and former councillors, a former shire CEO and local MP Shane Love.
The big crowd was introduced to the association’s six committee members: myself, Lesley-Jane Campbell, Geoff Appleby, Annette LaBouchardiere, Brian Foley and Bob Neville.
This group combines strong local, state and regional government experience with business, economic, administrative and environmental knowledge, and is committed to public advocacy aimed at advancing Toodyay’s economic and social prosperity.
The association is a volunteer body that wants to help build a more efficient and effective local government that makes better decisions with more accountability and greater community participation in its affairs.
Discussions at last month’s public meeting included shire legal costs, the town’s heavy-haulage route, plans to cut down Anzac Memorial Park trees, the aborted sale of Mrs O’Reilly’s Cottage, changing shire boundaries, sports facilities, rates and various attitudes that seem to inhibit or intimidate our local shire councillors from speaking publicly on local issues.
Our elected representatives have an obligation to inform constituents of their opinions.
It is incomprehensible that this is still an issue in Toodyay after the Minister for Local Government said: “The mayor or shire presidents are the spokespersons for the local authority.
They are an independent authority in their own right. “Councillors do, however, have a right to go out there and champion local causes, speak in their local papers or even go onto their local networks, radio or otherwise to talk about issues around the broader area.”
Since last month’s public meeting, our association has written to the Toodyay Shire Council to inquire about the total cost of recent legal actions.
We also asked for an independent departmental inquiry into why last year’s shire rates were unlawful and had to be quashed in November by a State tribunal.
At the time of publication we have not received an acknowledgement of our letters or any meaningful answers.
Because of that lack of response, we asked more questions at the council’s February 28 meeting.
Though they were sent the previous week – well before the council’s deadline – we received no meaningful answers.
Ironically, while councillors later discussed a new draft communications strategy I was able to access some data already published by the council which shows legal paymentsbetween last April and November totalling $171,275.54.
We live in hope the council will honour its own financial governance policy to “make decisions in relation to financial matters in a prudent manner considering transparency, accountability and equality to result in good governance”.
We would love to hear your views on these and other matters, and invite you to join us on an informal basis or as a paid-up member for $10 a year. We plan to be up and running on social media soon, or you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We stress, as always, that we are a nonpolitical public advocacy group and will not run candidates in any elections.