Martin Duke urges community to get involved with new council
OUTGOING Surf Coast Shire councillor Martin Duke says the community should and must take an active interest in what the new council does over the next four years.
Mr Duke, who was unsuccessful in holding his seat in the Torquay Ward at last month’s council election, is encouraging the public to fully engage with the shire’s policy to consult with the community about any major decisions before they are adopted.
“We have that community consultation there, which is going to be a lot more now than it ever was. We have done that in the past, and we certainly did it very well, but it’s now required by the new Local Government Act.” he said.
“So the community needs to be involved, they need to find out what’s going on. If there’s something in the paper about consultation, jump on board, be part of that consultation; don’t come back later and complain that you didn’t know about it.
“We need you to be part of it, we need the community to come along, as I will do – not as a councillor now, but as Martin Duke, a Surf Coast resident.”
He also said people should attend council meetings (subject to coronavirus restrictions) or watch the livestream on the shire’s website.
“We’re one of the councils that has probably has less people at a meeting compared to a lot of the other councils.
“If you’ve got a concern, talk to your councillors, make an effort, just give them a call. They’re all there, they’re all good people.”
Mr Duke also had some advice for the new councillors. He said they would first have to codify their future ambitions through the Council Plan – a process that could take between three and six months.
“What does each individual town need? What does the whole Surf Coast need?
“There’s always training when you come in as a new councillor, so over the next four weeks, all the councillors will go through a lot of training; two days a week, sometimes three days a week.”
He said his biggest challenge on a personal level as a councillor was getting his head around the budget.
“It takes a while to be able to understand that, to understand where the money’s going and what it’s doing. The budget is probably the hardest thing to understand first off, but once you start learning from the gurus in there – the officers, who are fantastic – you find it’s not so hard.”