Recent letters to the editor have suggested that the people complaining about Whyalla City Council should stop focussing on the council’s recent mistakes.
We are being told that the fact that the beach and the city centre (which is where Westland is located) look prettier than they did, cancels out the fact that the council has done the wrong thing.
We are ridiculed because we complain about the fact that council have spent community funds (rates) on unsuccessful (greening Whyalla, industrial estate) and unnecessary (Cartledge Avenue roundabouts at T-junctions) projects that may or may not comply with legislation.
We are being urged to ignore the fact that the council has not adequately consulted with its own community, not followed its own (legally required) policies and procedures, have ignored approvals (foreshore sand replenishment program) and its own community, when lifelong residents have attempted to suggest that, based on decades of knowledge, observation and experience, something will not work.
The council responds to questions with statements that turn out to be incorrect and explain it away as a miscommunication.
It fails to comply with legislation (it is the CEO’s responsibility to ensure elected members understand and follow) and try to excuse it as a ‘misinterpretation’.
We complain about it and we are called ‘moaners’ or ‘trouble makers’.
We are labelled ‘grumpy old men’ (regardless of our gender or age) and accused of ‘carping’ and ‘whining’ because we expose the fact that the roundabouts that almost everyone is angry (or at least annoyed) about are not approved/legal and we are the ones blamed for portraying Whyalla in a negative light.
We are accused of ‘sitting on the sidelines’ and ‘not getting involved’, when in fact, many of us read the agenda for council meetings every month, we sometimes even attend meetings and ask questions at public question time.
Some of us have made submissions when documents or policies are released for public consultation.
We are members of community organisations who are active in Whyalla and we try to stay involved in the decision making process.
We continue to make the effort even after our comments and suggestions are ignored by both the elected body and the corporation.
Some of us have even served a term or two as elected members in Whyalla.
We only complain in public and write letters to the editor when all our efforts to get direct answers from the council through the ‘proper channels’ result in the aforementioned ‘miscommunications’, ‘misinterpretations’ and misunderstandings.
I wish that those of you who think we have nothing to complain about would take the time to read the agendas and have a look at what goes on at council meetings.
I would like to see more people take some time to compare what our council does with what the legislation (South Australian Local Government Act 1999) says they should be doing.
I would like to see the elected members of our wonderful city encourage open and transparent discussion and debate with their community, before undertaking major (or minor) projects that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.
Oh, and by the way… I wish the CEO did not believe that people only criticise because we, the average person in the street, do not understand how the council measures its success.
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