OPINION: Challenging Times Ahead Opinion by News Of The Area - Modern Media - January 12, 2022 DEAR News Of The Area, A NEW year, a new council, but a challenging time for the world, on many levels, unprecedented, impossible to predict the outcome. Many will celebrate our newly elected council, hopefully a diverse group that will concentrate on the whole picture – not just on koalas and gum trees. They must not underestimate the task ahead, to unravel the bureaucratic web that has engulfed our parliament house in Hyde Street. Gone are the days we were all one, with no divide, an open shop, where everyone knew everyone and all Council business was an open cheque book. Hands up all those, today, including outdoor staff, who could name or have met most of our senior staff, engineers, planning, resilience, wellbeing officers, even our G.M. and senior assistants. Not many hands up, one could describe it as a closed shop, with even employees forbidden to discuss Council business. That word resilience is tossed around a lot these days. In fact, Council just received an open cheque for $4.2 million, following the 2019 fires which never impacted our Shire – not a dwelling lost. We will build a ring of resilience around the Shire, our masters have stated. My interpretation of resilience is when some poor soul climbs out of a deep hole and gets on with it, recovering from a disaster, or tragic experience, and building up again. Resilience can not be bought, it has to be earned. $4.2 million, based on figures provided by our previous engineer of $6 to $7 a square metre, could reseal 80 to 100 kilometres of bitumen 6 metres wide. But with our recent 20% general rate increase for sealing and resealing we should be well on the way anyway. If not, why not? Collapsing infrastructure, waste and inefficiency, plus no more officers, must be a priority for our new group. The process now outstrips the cost of the project and must be reversed. There are high hopes for our new Council and I wish them well but I suggest more consultation with the ‘doing members’ of our Shire. Believe me there is a lot more knowledge and hands-on practicality outside Council offices than inside, the old saying goes “an education is never a substitute for common sense”. Regards, Darcey BROWNING, Bellingen.