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Archive for June, 2012

Letter to Council

18 June 2012

The General Manager

Warrumbungle Shire Council

PO Box 191

COONABARABRAN  NSW  2357

Dear Sir

COMMENTS ON DRAFT OPERATIONAL PLAN AND DRAFT DELIVERY PROGRAM 2012/2016

We wish to comment on the draft Operational Plan and Delivery Program on behalf of Transition Coonabarabran, a newly-formed group of residents who are passionate about the future of Coonabarabran as a resilient, sustainable community.

Whilst it was pleasing to see that Council has identified issues such as encouraging sustainable living, community involvement in maintaining the natural environment, ensuring local availability of products and services, mitigating the negative environmental impacts of local mining and extractive activities and promoting a vibrant arts and cultural life for community well-being, we consider that Council has not gone far enough in outlining the actions it proposes to take to implement solutions for those issues.  In other words, it seems that while Council’s vision for the Shire is expansive and far-reaching, the actions it intends to undertake are limited in their scope and application and do not appear to be well-correlated to the priorities identified.

For example:

  1. Council has identified that “The long-term impacts of climate change on our region should be monitored and strategies developed to minimise their negative effects” as a priority, however the actions proposed appear to be limited to things such as remediating the Castlereagh River Bank at Neilson Park and auditing Council’s plant and energy use and reducing energy costs (presumably just meaning within Council).  There do not appear to be any community-based initiatives other than a general motherhood statement of “develop and implement an educational and participation program for sustainable living and monitor and reduce Council’s carbon footprint.”  How does Council intend to develop and implement such a program?
  2. Council has identified as a priority the need to be proactive in providing community advocacy to mitigate the negative environmental impacts of local mining and extractive activities.  Council’s proposed action however seems to be limited to such things as continuing membership and participation in Mining Related Councils and facilitating the dissemination of information and community opinion in relation to local extractive industries.  Considering that mining is one of the most important issues facing the region in terms of environmental and physical health and well-being and the future sustainability of the community, it is disappointing to see Council failing to adopt more of a leadership position, particularly after stating that Council would not support mining in the area.
  3. Council has also identified “Local natural water resources including waterway aquifers to remain unpolluted” as a priority, which we wholeheartedly support, and has stated that the corresponding action is to advocate for the protection of waterway aquifer systems.  The indicator of progress that Council proposes however in relation to that identified priority and action is to ensure sewerage treatment plants do not compromise the natural water system.  Whilst this is certainly important, we consider that Council is not acknowledging or taking steps to address the possible devastating effects that coal seam gas mining could have on the local underground aquifers.  Again, Council’s position not to support mining in the area is applauded but we consider the draft Delivery Program does not reflect the actions necessary to support that position.

We recognise Council is limited in its ability to influence the ultimate decision regarding mining in the area.  However, as Council has identified the need to minimise the negative impacts on our natural environment as a priority, we would like to see it adopt more proactive actions to facilitate this outcome and uphold the spirit of Council’s Charter concerning the promotion of the principles of ecologically sustainable development and the long term and cumulative effects of Council’s decisions.

There also appear to be a number of items in the budget that are open for questioning, such as:

  1. Council has allocated $80,000 per annum for “Community Development”.  What does that entail?
  2. Council has allocated $35,000 for capital projects at Coonabarabran Waste Depot.  What are the capital projects that are envisaged?  Do they include projects to increase things such as recycling, composting etc?

We greatly appreciate the time Council has taken to invite and consider submissions from the community and the fact it has identified the need for ongoing community involvement in implementing the Operational Plan.  There do not however appear to be any steps identified regarding how that ongoing community involvement is to be carried out.

It also appears that, contrary to the statement in the draft Strategic Plan that it would define Council’s priorities and goals and provide a clear linkage between strategies and plans at all levels, the draft Operational Plan often does not deliver on those objectives.

We respectfully submit that more consideration be given to aligning Council’s proposed activities with the issues identified as priorities in accordance with the vision and objectives of the local community and that Council ensures continuing ongoing community involvement in carrying out those activities.  We welcome the opportunity to work with Council in ensuring the future of the Warrumbungle Shire as a sustainable, healthy and vibrant community.

Yours faithfully,

Joy O’Farrell and Kim O’Donnell

on behalf of Transition Coonabarabran

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PLEASE NOTE: We have received a reply from Council dated July 11th. If you would like a pdf copy of this reply emailed to you, please contact transitioncoonabarabran@live.com.au

 

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Hello all,

Here are the notes from the Transition Coonabarabran meeting held at Cardians Coffee Lounge on Saturday 9th June 2012. We gathered outside The Jolly Cauli as arranged at 11 am and walked to Cardians. Present were Joy, John, Kim, Pete R and Peter T. We finished at 12-40pm.

SBS had a feature in their Town series on 8th June about Totnes, the town in Devon, England that started the Transition Town movement. This is available, seems to be for another 4 days, at http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/program/157/Town-With-Nicholas-Crane

We discussed the focus of the last meeting being the decision to interact with the town vision formulated from workshops conducted by Council last year. We agreed with the offer from Kim and Joy to write a letter on behalf of the group to Council as a response to the draft town vision, priorities and proposed activities. Our main feeling about the draft is that the priorities seem to capture the feeling of the citizen meetings but the proposed activities fail to convince that these priorities will be acted on. We think there is a need for a long-term effort to change the culture of Council. This might involve ongoing citizen-Council dialogue around various themes. It would be good to have initially small and gradually increasing budgets for these citizen groups to be able to allocate.

We discussed our awareness that not all our members may be keen on this engagement with Council but those present saw it as just one of several types of community action that might help us make the social transition to sustainability.

Kim and Joy will prepare a draft letter and circulate it for comment before sending to Council on 18th June. [this was done]

We discussed the idea of a short regular item in the Coonabarabran Times to explain what Transition Coonabarabran is. Kim will discuss this with paper staff.

Next meeting is 11 am on Market Sunday, 24th June. I suggest the newly reopened Jolly Cauli.

Peace and love,

Peter T.

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Greetings All

Here is a summary of the last Transition Coonabarabran meeting held at the Community Technology Centre – http://coonabarabran.com/ctc/ on Friday evening, May 25th.

Meeting Report – May 25th

There were 7 people present at the meeting.

After opening the meeting, we had a quick ‘go round’ as usual.

After the go round, we examined some of the points expressed in more detail.

One of the ideas discussed was about the possibility of a Meeting Centre – a designated place, (a centre for association) for the Transition group to meet and share on an ongoing basis. There was some discussion about possible locations and how that might unfold.

Another topic discussed was the council. For instance, there is the 20 yr strategic development plan in the library at the moment and perhaps this is a good opportunity to check it out and read through the draft for the proposed changes and possibly work together to create a letter for council of our views on this. The general gist is that there are people in the group who feel it is important to go through official council channels in order to effect transition to a more sustainable lifestyle for our community. There are also people in the group who are interested in a more grass-roots level approach, so perhaps a balance can be struck so that people can work together in small groups with what interests them, while maintaining our ‘whole’ connection with the Transition group. Perhaps news from smaller groups can then be brought to meetings to update the rest of the group?

For instance, someone in our group is currently lobbying the council to put measures in place for the safe disposal of CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lights). Now that we know this, others who also feel passionate about this can offer support and also become involved if they wish, thus adding weight to the issue. If someone feels interested they could post a blog on the wordpress site to inform us all about the reasons why these lights need safe disposal options.  Perhaps there are other issues which come under the category of ‘Waste’ which could be looked into. If there are others interested in this, perhaps a group could be formed to work specifically on this and then report back to the rest of the group.

We also discussed possible ways of getting others involved in the Transition group. One idea which seems to appeal is a regular snippet in the local paper which points people to our new website – https://transitioncoonabarabran.wordpress.com/  If people go to the website and follow the blog they can begin the process of participating in the Transition group, they will receive all the blogs and updates of meetings and when/where meetings will be held.  The snippet could be something simple which piques people’s interest such as tips on sustainable lifestyle, gardening tips, or just questions, such as ‘Transition Coonabarabran? What is it?”.

The topic of whether to continue with meetings was also discussed and we eventually came to the conclusion that we would like to continue with the meetings, but on a fortnightly basis instead of weekly and during the day instead of the night. Although the CTC has been a wonderful place to initiate the process of our meetings, we feel it would be more enjoyable, especially in the winter, to meet in the cosiness of a café instead.

We decided it would be good to meet on the Market Sunday and also on the Second Saturday of the month at a pre-designated café at 11am (unless otherwise specified).

Therefore, the next meeting is to be held on Saturday, June 9th at the Jolly Cauli Café at 11am. We hope to see you there!

WordPress Site

If you would like to participate in the Skills Register, Goods & Services Register or the Transport Network, please email the details to transitioncoonabarabran@live.com.au

In order to have access to see this information, you need to have the password. This can be obtained by sending an email with a brief description of why you would like to be involved to the above email address. This allows for us all to participate and share in this local community network without having our personal details broadcast publicly on the internet. Otherwise, if you know of a better way, please leave a comment.

I would also like to remind everyone that there are two books on the Transition movement in the local library – one is called The Transition Handbook which is the first book, and the other is called The Transition Companion which was published late last year. Both books are written by Rob Hopkins, the founder of the Transition movement.

Radha (current Transition Coonabarabran WordPress Administrator)

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