The Weekly Advertiser

Community leaders unite over Horsham Rural City Council’s ‘lack of governance’ on bypass issue

Peter Velthuis.

Peter Velthuis.

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By SARAH SCULLY
A group of community members concerned with Horsham Rural City Council’s ‘lack of good governance, effective leadership and vision’ for a future bypass of the city will lead a charge to find the ‘right option for the municipality’.
Group spokesman Peter Velthuis said about 20 leaders had stepped up following last week’s council meeting, which saw councillors divided over how to move forward on supporting a future bypass route for the city.
At the meeting, councillors voted down Cr David Grimble’s motion to investigate bypass route alignments other than option D – VicRoads’ preferred alignment, which skirts Horsham’s north-eastern boundaries – before voting against Cr Radford’s motion to not investigate other alignments. At the time, Cr Grimble accused his fellow councillors of a ‘lack of leadership’.
Community members have echoed his sentiment, with Mr Velthuis urging other leaders to ‘stand up and be counted to redress a leadership vacuum in council in respect to bypass option D’.
“There is a widespread feeling in the community, particularly in business, that a clear direction and process of community consultation is necessary to foster objective discussion of what the Wimmera municipality considers the most appropriate and objective way forward,” he said.
“The issue at the forefront is not what bypass option is ‘best’, but the sound reasons for continuing planning to achieve the best outcome.
“There is no room for complacency or equally, self-interest.
“The community needs to inform the Minister for Planning, ideally through its council, that it seeks the opportunity to get it right, not to sign off on an option – option D – that will clearly impose significant impacts and costs on Horsham and the wider Wimmera municipality, with limited benefits.”
Mr Velthuis said he believed alternative options not previously identified and objectively assessed had considerable merit.
He said these new options required detailed investigation and community consultation before a preferred option could be identified.
“The council has resolved on several occasions since September 2015 not to support VicRoads’ preferred option D.
“In the intervening years, as more evidence comes to light, it is apparent this policy was soundly based and protected the best interests of the Wimmera community.
“However, a new council appears determined to overturn that position without clear argument to support a change.”
‘Right’ decision
Mr Velthuis said the ‘right’ decision could only be made through an objective process supported by clear evidence and well-reasoned argument.
“The wrong decision based on a lack of sound reasoning and clear evidence will impact heavily on the future of Horsham and the wider Wimmera municipality, for generations ahead,” he said.
“In contrast, the right decision made for the right reasons supported by sound evidence will invigorate Horsham and provide opportunities for investment and economic growth over the long term.”
Mr Velthuis said planning needed to incorporate all arterial highways and other roads that pass through Horsham.
He said if the council remained at an impasse over the future direction of the bypass, it could lose its opportunity to have a say.
“Evidence has been presented by the community to councillors in previous months that clearly shows fatal flaws in option D, and there are several viable alternatives that have not been considered,” he said.
“The potential for option D to meet federal and state criteria for consideration and funding is unlikely on cost alone.
“Should this occur, the Wimmera and Horsham community will lose opportunities for several decades from achieving what could be a high-quality resolution.”
Mr Velthuis said the group of community leaders that formed last week aimed to galvanise the community and encourage everyone to be involved in a wider discussion.
“We ultimately want to support the council,” he said.
“We have decided to step up and take this to the community and if it helps the council, so well be it.
“We do not have a specific option that we are pushing.
“A lot of people are complacent but we are urging them to become informed.
“We need an objective, transparent process and a true partnership between the community and VicRoads.”
Mr Velthuis said the group was in early stages but would provide further information about community consultation through the media.

The entire July 12, 2017 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Jul 12 2017

Posted by on Jul 12 2017. Filed under Community, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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