Mayor articulates Warrnambool vision in four-year plan

MAYOR Michael Neoh has revived community hopes of progress on long-awaited Warrnambool projects for a safer boating harbour, revitalised city centre, airport upgrade and saleyards relocation.

In his re-election speech he rallied his team and made it clear he wanted to focus on seeing more of the city council’s plan fulfilled. 

It’s big-picture policy contains four key objectives for the next four years — to become a leading regional city, sustainable city, growth city and liveable city.

But it lacks finer details on timelines for specific projects to fulfil those goals.

This has sometimes frustrated sections of the community who have campaigned long and hard on issues without seeing much fruit for their efforts.

Cr Neoh conceded that council decisions were often complex, difficult to make and unpopular with some.

“That’s the reason we have engaged and then developed our vision and four-year plan for the city,” he said.

“While we shouldn’t act with haste, we need to be decisive and not linger and ponder. My confidence in our council plan is unwavering and I ask all councillors and council officers to become acutely familiar with the plan, talk it up and live it.

“The vision is clear. Our plan is documented and our future is positive.”

Cr Neoh said that in recent years the council had to catch up in its strategic planning for future growth and was now in a position to maximise potential. 

He said government investment was vital for key projects including the CBD, harbour, airport and community hubs.

“I am determined to lead an aggressive push for these initiatives in the lead-up to the state election,” Cr Neoh said.

He also listed an improved library, enhancement of education attainment levels, pushing for a south-west food plan, better rail connections, relocating the saleyards and improving Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village as key goals. “A mid-morning and mid-afternoon return passenger (rail) service should be standard, not an option,” he said.

“These are the ingredients for a perfect storm, a state election and the minister for transport in our region — we now need to add heat. 

“Relocation of the livestock exchange through private investment will allow us to secure and shape the region’s future, rather than just mark time.

“A ‘don’t take no for an answer’ effort to secure freehold ownership of Flagstaff Hill is needed. It must happen to allow security and certainty for private and entrepreneurial tourism investment.”

Councils around the state are required to set four-year plans soon after local government elections as a blueprint on what they hope to achieve.

Warrnambool City Council’s communications manager Nick Higgins said all projects had to line up with the plan objectives. 

“Some are big-picture issues, others are specific,” Mr Higgins said. 

“The plan comes first then the projects roll-out follows, but implementation depends on approvals and funding, which usually takes some time.”

Council has rolled over some objectives from its previous four-year plan.

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