Thursday, December 1 2022

news, local news, Goulburn, Darrell Weekes, Wakefield Park

The recent mayoral election for Goulburn Mulwaree Council is in the news and the future of Wakefield Park is up in the air. Both of these ‘hot topics’ will come under scrutiny at the Goulburn Chamber of Commerce meeting next month. Speaker Darrell Weekes said new mayor Peter Walker and council chief executive Warwick Bennett were invited to the online event at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday February 9. READ MORE: Bob Kirk questions choice of councilors for Goulburn Mulwaree mayor Goulburn’s Wakefield Park speaks in Canberra about options Goulburn’s Wakefield Park is pursuing legal challenge to development proposal They will address members on plans and priorities for the coming year. New councillor, chamber member Steve Ruddell, will also speak, along with Goulburn Performing Arts director Raina Savage. Mr Weekes said that while the meeting was mainly to learn more about the council’s business plans, he expected many questions about the recent mayoral election. Cr Walker ousted the mayor of the past five years, Bob Kirk, in a close five-to-four vote. Cr Kirk has since said he was “insulted” by the outcome, not only personally but also to the community which “sent very clear judgment on the issue of leadership via the electoral process”. Cr Kirk topped the poll with 4,000 votes and maintained that he had in no way “erased his notebook”. He told the Post that councilors appeared to have decided their vote ahead of the Jan. 11 meeting. ALSO READ: ‘It has to be in the regions’: Climate should be at center of Hume debate Mr Weekes said the chamber was apolitical and had no opinion on who should be mayor. “(But) it’s been a hot topic of discussion and it’s fair to say, a surprise to some people,” he said. “The committee was surprised by the outcome, but we support the mayor. This is a democratic process. We are here to support businesses and lobby for their interests.” He expected many questions about this and about Wakefield Park. Braidwood Road Racecourse has become a key election issue for the council, with community members quizzing candidates on their stance. The facility’s development application to build new infrastructure and expand its range of offerings was approved in July. But the operators, Benalla Auto Group, later launched proceedings in the New South Wales Land and Environmental Court, objecting to noise conditions which they say would render the track unviable. This is scheduled for March 8-10. Management has also since threatened to transfer the operation to Canberra. ALSO READ: The results are in: Satisfactory results for Goulburn High School students Mr Weekes said members were very concerned, given the significant economic fallout from Wakefield for Goulburn and his district. “I don’t think any of the council candidates understood the Wakefield Park problem,” he told the Post. “…I haven’t heard anything substantial from any candidate about their support or otherwise for this and what they were going to do. I know some were shot directly at it and as far as I have could see, no one clearly articulated where they were standing.” However, several newly elected councilors, including Steve Ruddell and Jason Shepherd, said they voted for Cr Walker as mayor in part because they wanted to reconsider the case before it went to court. Andrew Banfield also supported Wakefield’s prosecution and voted for Cr Walker. Mr Weekes said members of the Retired Police Officers Association were also concerned about his future and had approached the House. ALSO READ: ‘No vision or care’: Conservationist laments Rocky Hill clearing and wetland issues Additionally, House members want the rail trail from Goulburn to Crookwell to continue, given the economic opportunities. The council is still trying to secure government funding and support for the 56km route. Late last year it was unsuccessful in an application for a $7 million grant to build better regions, but secured other funding and, along with Upper Lachlan Shire, allocated its own money to the project. “We can’t wait to see it move forward,” said Weekes. “It will be a huge boost for the economy. We just need to take the emotion out of it and talk about the practical applications.” The House regularly invites the mayor of the day to brief members on issues. Mr Weekes said the organization wanted strong relationships and communication with the board, but he felt some of those had been lost in recent years. The February meeting will be streamed live on the Chamber’s Facebook page. Did you know the Goulburn Post now offers news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up to date with all the local news: subscribe below.

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