Community’s infrastructure priorities to be backed by Council

Published on 16 May 2018

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Twenty-eight hours of deliberations, two Council briefings, a review of a 120 page briefing book, consideration of 41 submissions from the community, and requests for 17 extra information pieces underpinned the Byron Shire’s first Community Solutions Panel determination on infrastructure spending priorities. 

Mayor Simon Richardson said the 31-person panel delivered a succinct report detailing its considerations and decision making approach which will be formally adopted by Council this Thursday (17 May) as part of its four-year delivery program considerations.

“Council entrusted a randomly-selected group of 31 people to come up with the answer to the question What infrastructure spending should we prioritise, and how should we fund these priorities if the rates alone are not enough?” Mayor Richardson said. 

“Our first ever Community Solutions Panel took the challenge in its stride and certainly delivered by providing a clear picture of how we should prioritise infrastructure.

“The panel came up with a list of considerations, values and decision-making framework which have now been embedded in our draft delivery program, to be formally discussed by Council this Thursday (17 May).

“The panel members listed  values that should  inform our decisions about infrastructure into the future – including safety, community well-being, connectivity, equity, environmental consciousness and excellence in design, with ‘safety and risk’ at the top of the list,” Mayor Richardson said.

The panel’s considerations include:

  • We aim to be proactive, not reactive
  • We recognise there are different needs in different places
  • We support investing in renewal when it is practical and necessary to do so
  • We encourage, support and facilitate shared ownership of community issues
  • We recognise that the development of transport alternatives to cars is essential
  • We support investment into infrastructure that generates a return
  • We endorse innovative approaches and efficiency in processes
  • We require organisational and individual responsibility, accountability and transparency

“The panel’s decision-making framework included a priority on risk and safety, followed by a desire to lift all “poorly” rated infrastructure, but recognised  that not all types could be upgraded immediately,” Mayor Richardson said.

The Community Solutions Panel, was a project undertaken with the not-for-profit research group, newDemocracy Foundation, which aimed to see what a ‘citizens’ jury’ would look like in the Byron Shire.

“Not only did the panel deliberate on infrastructure priorities, I think members learnt a lot in the process, particularly about the complex nature of Council.

“They have a solid understanding of the challenges we face in trying to provide infrastructure and services for our community.

“I guess the big question is ‘where to from here’ and we are working with newDemocracy to develop a ‘Byron’ style approach to community engagement… watch this space for how you can get involved.

“I would personally like to thank everyone who put their hand up to be on the Community Solutions Panel – we had more than 400 people nominate which clearly demonstrates how committed our community is.

“Special thanks to the 31 committed souls who were randomly selected. 

“It was an incredibly refreshing and positive project and it’s given us a taste of how we can involve the community more in our decision-making process,” the Mayor said.

The Panel’s report to Council and how its recommendations are included in Council’s draft four-year delivery program are available at www.byron.nsw.gov.au.

For more information contact Anna Vinfield, Manager Corporate Services, on 6626 7000.