Like many non-news sites, my councillor Facebook page has been blocked today. If you visit it, you’ll be able to see some general information but no posts. Many health-related and government pages were blocked, although some have been restored. For example, the City of Greater Bendigo page was blocked for a time, but is now restored, and I hope Facebook sorts out the health-related and government sites pronto, especially as a vaccine is starting to roll-out.
That my page has been blocked is not a big deal, in my opinion. I’m still on Instagram and I have a website, so my ability to communicate with the public through online media has hardly been compromised. But it has given me pause to consider how I communicate with people online. Even though my councillor page is not a news site, I often link to local news sites and give a related comment. As far as I understand it, these posts would be invisible because they are linking to a news site. So, I will start putting a bit more content up on this website. If you want to be notified each time I do that, then you’ll need to plug your email into the widget on the right of screen where it says “Get new posts by email.”
Reflecting more widely on the actions by Facebook, I hope that it will drive people to visit the actual websites of news organisations. Sure, you may not be able to comment on the news article, but the ability to discuss issues on Facebook is overrated – it is rare that you see a respectful yet robust discussion. Can I encourage people, when they visit a news website, to consider paying for its content, or even buying a hard copy version? It’s the only way that we’ll continue to have any journalism worth the name in Australia. Right now, our local daily newspaper is charging $3 per week to view all its content online – I know many are doing it tough, but that is cheap as chips for media content.
Posted on August 24, 2021
Wrap up of the August 2021 Council Meeting
Last week’s council was relatively packed: we had several polices and plans that we put out for comment, including the Council Plan and the Climate Action and Environment Strategy. You can read all these and put in your comments here. Apart from these policy items, we had six planning items. I like it when we have at least 5 planning items – our main task as councillors is shaping our future city, and the decisions we make on planning are a huge part of that task.
Two applications related to houses built on small pieces of farming land – I voted against both of these as I don’t want to see farming land split up over time. However, I recognise that we are seeing this type of application repeatedly – do we keep voting against them? Or do we need to have a more nuanced view, taking into account different forms of farming, and the fact that our population patterns are changing? I was also a minority on an application to start a dog-breeding and horse-husbandry facility: I was in favour but not too many others were!
Report to the community – August 2021
It has, sadly, been very difficult to meet in person with members of the community – a Teams or Zoom chat is just not the same as being with people “on the ground”. That said, I did manage to get a few things done:
- Mens Sheds meeting at Long Gully. An excellent place for people to gather, make friendships, and sometimes create something from metal or wood.
- Initial meeting with council staff about a conservation management plan for Victoria Hill Historical Area in Ironbark. There will be opportunity for community input into this process.
- Participated in council workshops on waste reduction and recovery, and on our managed growth strategy.
- Participated in the state-wide conference put on by the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria. This conference was an excellent window into the work being done by young people, and with young people, on issues like mental health, emergency management, and including young people in the decision-making processes of our community. On that last point, we can commend ourselves for supporting a Youth Council, and I look forward to strengthening their role in our decision-making.
- Visited the Bendigo BMX Club at Eaglehawk, to discuss track surfacing, new lighting, and support for the club when they run events that attract hundreds of competitors.
I am also looking forward to some events that have had to be cancelled, like the Eaglehawk township meeting, and a walking tour of Elmore. If you’d like to keep up with updates from me, please sign up your email here.
Posted on July 20, 2021
Wrap up of last night’s council meeting
Last night’s council meeting was light on in terms of decisions to be made. We had a recognition of the 150th anniversary of the City of Sandhurst, and then got into the substance of the meeting. We debated one planning item, an allied health centre in Lily St, for which I voted to approve. You read that right – one planning item. In my view, we should be debating and voting on at least 4 per meeting, on average. As I said last night:
As Bendigo grows numerically – elected officials, not council staff, should have appropriate control over what types of housing, hotels, commercial buildings etc get the nod. Why? Because these decisions fundamentally shape what kind of city we will become. I understand the need for a delegated panel to decide on straightforward applications, but the pendulum has swung too far. Residents, if nothing else, expect councillors to be able to make decisions on planning applications.
The only other real topic of note was the CCTV policy, which aims to govern our CCTV network in the CBD (draft version here). Along with Cr Williams, I voted against this policy – not because I don’t think we need a policy but because this one is not strong enough.
Report to the community – July 2021
As we meet and report on events and issues, I am very conscious that the current Covid-19 lockdown is having a huge impact on our whole community – businesses of many kinds, school-children, families, sporting clubs of all kinds, and important large events that have had to be cancelled. Although difficult, it is also heartening to see how people are supporting others where they can. I am sure we all have seen examples of this behaviour. One heartening example concerned the caterer for the Australian Sheep and Wool show, which had to be cancelled. Faced with a huge amount of food that would go to waste, the Bendigo community had by Saturday, bought up all their meals. Fantastic stuff.
- Refugee Week lunch in the new Bendigo Beehive building. Thanks to Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services, and the Neighbourhood Collective, for organising this excellent event
- Spoke at a panel on faith and work at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, in Flora Hill
- Facilitated a road safety meeting regarding Creeth St in Long Gully with Regional Roads Victoria and City staff – I thank those local residents who came and contributed.
- NAIDOC week civic reception – it was great to see our First Nations people’s pride for their country and culture.
- Visited several local manufacturing businesses: impressed by their enthusiasm for their work and for our city. These included Fleetwood in Long Gully, who manufacture modular buildings, and Australia Turnable Company in Kangaroo Flat.
I just want to briefly point to the development of the Council Plan, which will guide our decision making and priorities over the next new few years. Councillors have been working on this for the last couple of months, assisted by council staff. It is a large and comprehensive document, and is informed by community input, especially the Deliberative Panel, where residents met over a weekend to thrash out an agreed vision and values for our city. As a resident, if you feel you have an important priority for our community, please get in touch so it can be reflected in the final council plan.
Posted on June 30, 2021
Hello all! Thanks for all your comments back to me after sending my last report, both my email and on social media. I always appreciate feedback, whether positive or critical.
This last month has been light on when it comes to planning decisions, however that has not meant that council has not been working hard. We have released our draft policy on reducing harm from gambling, and finalised the 2021-2022 budget.
A few highlights from the budget: there is a $2m Covid support package for businesses and tourism, an extra youth worker to connect with school communities, beginning the renewal of the old Municipal Baths, and over $50m of capital works.
Budget Wins for Whipstick
Here are just a few of the items which are in the gun for the Whipstick Ward:
- Walking/Cycling Trail management plan for the path that goes from Bendigo Stadium to Bendigo Showgrounds
- Heritage Conservation plan for Victoria Hill
- Works on Eaglehawk Town Hall
- Works for Truscott Dog Park
- Strengthening and widening the Howard St bridge at Epsom
- Design of Elmore Community Hub
If you want to see a fuller list of items, the finance team at the City has done a great job of mapping most of the capital works in the budget so you can see where things will be happening.
Thanks again for all those who contact me with both positive ideas for Bendigo, and problems that need fixing.
Cr Dave Fagg
P.S: I will be away in the 2nd week of the holidays for some time with family, so please call 03 5434 6000 for any council matters during that time.
P.P.S: The featured image on this post shows the community deliberative panel which came up with our City’s new vision.
[Email continues after photos]
What have I been up to recently?
- Attendance at the Imagine Greater Bendigo deliberative panel
- Resident meetings regarding planning matters
- Attended the School-Industry Roundtable
- Mass to celebrate 200 years of Catholic education in Australia
- Long Gully community meeting
- Recorded an interview with Bike Bendigo on cycling to work.
- Various meetings with community members and leaders
- Public Space Advisory Committee meeting
- Refugee Week Community Lunch
- Attended the Bendigo Secondary Education Wellbeing Network
- Attended Eaglehawk Community House
- Creeth St Road Safety meeting with Regional Roads Victoria.
What’s on the agenda in the next few months?
- Youth work sector conference.
- Listening post at Bendigo Showgrounds: Sunday 18th July, 10-11.30am
- Victoria Hill Conservation Plan will begin work – how do we conserve this amazing site for the coming years?
- Affordable Housing Action Group – how can council take action on the issue of affordable housing?
- Attending a community leadership workshop in Melbourne, hosted by the Municipal Association of Victoria.
- Visiting the Bendigo Regional Archives Centre to get a better understanding of how we can work to preserve our historical artefacts.
Get involved in the community
- North Bendigo Listening Post: this will be held at Bendigo Showgrounds on Sunday 18th July, from 10am – 11.30am during the Sunday market.
- Get along to some of the Youth Week activities put on by the City.
- The draft policy “Reducing Harm from Gambling” is out for public comment. Have your say.
Posted on June 30, 2021
Hello all! I hate to say it, but “Where did the time go?!” Since my swearing-in on November 10 2020 as a fresh-faced new representative, the last 6 months have passed in a flash, especially with the task of producing a budget in a short space of time. So maybe it’s time to take stock, and reflect on my task as a councillor. What have I learnt so far? What are the key challenges?
Firstly, it’s challenging to make time to take a wider view of the issues that face our community, but absolutely necessary. The level of detail that we need to take on at any one time can be overwhelming, and it’s important, but these details can drown out the bigger picture: What kind of community do we want? How to plan for industry, affordable housing, recreation and public space with a 50 year view? I have found it important to block out time in the diary to get a broader vision.
Secondly, there needs to be a balance between pursuing the agendas I took to the election in 2020, and ensuring those agendas are shaped by the views of residents. Sure, people elected me in part because of what my priorities (https://davefagg.com.au/my-priorities/) are, but I also need to listen carefully to what different parts of our community want and need.
Thirdly, the role of a local councillor is changing, but the bread and butter of engaging with residents around everyday issues has not changed. I have really enjoyed the variety of community interaction, whether at events, or providing responses to queries or advocating for a resident when they have a concern. I’d appreciate your thoughts on these and other matters, so please get in touch if you would like to have a chat. Yours Cr Dave Fagg
What have I been up to recently? (See a bit more detail here)
- Listening post at Epsom shopping centre
- Opening of the Shine Bright early years centre at Maiden Gully.
- Book launch at Dudley House of CoGB Covid 19 art project
- Onsite meeting at Victoria Hill historical site to progress conservation plan
- Season launch of Eaglehawk Football Netball Club
- Long Gully community plan working group
- Ironbark Gully Trail Friends working bee
- Play in the Garden, to celebrate National Playgroup Week
What’s on the agenda in the next few weeks?
- Youth work sector conference
- School-Industry Roundtable at La Trobe University
- Connecting young people and industry committee
- Budget submission hearings
- Public Space committee
- Affordable Housing Action Group
- Bendigo Women’s MTB event
Get involved in the community
1. Long Gully community meeting: on Monday May 24, a Long Gully community meeting will be happening. Part of this meeting will be devoted to group discussion of local issues – let me know if you have an idea for this. Details coming soon on my Facebook page, and through council advertising.
2. The draft Budget is out, and budget submissions are due Tuesday 18th May. If you have an idea for a submission, and need some help, please let me know.
3. If your community group would like the opportunity to present to council about your activities and priorities, please get in touch with me.
(NB – featured image is from the Long Gully community meeting in late May, 2021)