Residents Action Network outlines area committee proposal at public meeting

First step: Residents Action Network secretary Greg Franks, president Hilton King and guest speaker David Winterbottom support the proposal to establish area committees.
First step: Residents Action Network secretary Greg Franks, president Hilton King and guest speaker David Winterbottom support the proposal to establish area committees.

The Residents Action Network (RAN) will take the next step in its area committee plan following interest shown at a public meeting on October 22.

The non-profit group will contact the 12 people who expressed an interest in taking part as it moves ahead with the proposal to establish area committees in the local government area.

The progress associations west of the highway will also be contacted with a proposal to get together to form an area committee to provide more bargaining power.

That area committee would not replace the progress associations but provide an umbrella to function as one voice to take issues to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.

RAN called the public meeting at Port City Bowling Club to gauge interest in its plan to establish area committees.

The groups, which would be made up of residents, would play an advice and consultation role between residents and the council.

Residents Action Network president Hilton King said RAN wanted residents to get together regularly, socialise, have fun and then liaise with the council on issues of concern in their area.

“We know they have been effective and they are effective in lots of local government areas,” he said about area committees.

Mr King said RAN was aiming for community representation.

He said the area committees were not about stepping on toes but RAN wanted to get people interested in the concept.

“All we want is for the idea to catch on and everybody cooperates,” Mr King said.

“It’s a win-win situation.”

Guest speaker David Winterbottom, who is secretary of a neighbourhood forum in the Wollongong City Council area, outlined how neighbourhood forums worked there.

“We are trying terribly hard to be positive and come up with things that assist and get council to move forward rather than just trying to criticise,” he said.

Mr Winterbottom said community engagement led to social cohesion and promoted trust between local government areas and their communities, and it leveraged ideas and talents.

The meeting took questions from the floor about topics from roads to equitable representation.

Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann raised the importance of community involvement.

“I’d like to encourage everyone, regardless of what’s happening about area committees here, to think about a couple of things,” she said.

Cr Intemann urged people to contact the councillors if they had an issue and to get involved in the community.

Meanwhile, the council is amid a process of working with communities to develop 18 community plans which sets out a vision for each community.

Residents Action Network secretary Greg Franks said the community plans were a terrific idea.

He said the area committees could ensure the plans were being carried out in the long term and have input on development applications.

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