BELLINGEN Shire Council has been awarded the greatest accolade a council can achieve: The AR Bluett Memorial Award for most progressive rural council in the state.
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The prestigious award was announced this week at the Local Government NSW Conference attended online by the Bellingen Mayor Dominic King and Deputy Mayor Jennie Fenton.
Bellingen Shire Council, which is responsible for 13,000 people and 1600 square kilometres of land, 57 per cent of which is non-rateable, were able to deliver on its promises of infrastructure and services while reporting a sound financial budget.
The awards are named after Albert Robert Bluett, an outstanding figure in Local Government, serving as the Secretary and Solicitor to the Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW for 30 years.
He was the authority on local government law and his opinion was respected by the legal profession and Ministers of the crown.
He helped to write the Local Government Act of 1919.
Following Bluett’s death in April 1944, the councils of NSW subscribed to a fund as a permanent memorial to his work.
This money funds the bronze plaques, awarded to the winning councils each year.
His legacy also lives on through Bluett Local Government Handbook, often referred to as the Local Government bible.
A Bellingen Council Spokesperson said it was a huge body of work to put together.
Their winning submission included projects such as the Affordable Housing Strategy, The Local Housing Strategy, a Water Security Plan and the Pandemic Response Group.
The Water Security Plan was for temporary measures in case the town ran out of water and at its core was reverse osmosis.
The Pandemic Response Group and sub groups were established, trained and mentored by council and resulted in the covid clinic and a Neighbourhood Care Network to ensure everyone was supported and connected.
Mayor Dominic King said, “For a small council with a small ratepayer base it feels great to get recognition for being seen as a local government that gets things done.
“We were runners up last year and this year to be the winner is wonderful as we have been working towards this for a long time,” he said.
“I think it speaks to our strategies around partnerships for example our housing strategies and our community input and this is the way forward for local government.”
By Sandra MOON