Valley Watchdog Returns to Active Service

We’re Back!

After a three-year holiday Valley Watchdog is back and ready to serve by keeping an eye on various happenings around our community including all three levels of government.

Local Press Fails Us

The impetus to return is driven by the failure of the local Murdoch rag to keep us fully-informed on local affairs. Examiner? Nonsense. It is just a megaphone for Richmond Valley Council propaganda and ‘feel good’ stuff. There’s precious little ‘public interest’ journalism any more as there was in the early days of the Rivertown Times and later on in The Richmond River Sun.

Rates Slug Again

So, what’s news? Well we’ve learned that Richmond Valley Council is up to its usual tricks of  wanting to impose a further Special Rate Variation above the level set by the State government of 1.5%. It wants to do this every year until 2026 and probably right out to 2030. It wants us to pay for everything without State or Federal help.

By any measure the proposed rate hike is unfair on poorer communities. Make no mistake Richmond Valley Council is one of the poorest local government areas with many kinds of social disadvantage. Ratepayers and residents don’t deserve  the ‘user pays’ approach to government funding driven by the State government particularly given the size of the local government area which has lots of roads and State agencies which use them.  Why are we picking up the tab for them.

Evans Head Punished With Much Higher Average Rates

The proposed rates structure is particularly onerous if you live at Evans Head where the rates burden is the greatest across the whole local government area.  Council has a long history of punishing the folks at Evans Head because of its opposition to amalgamation many years ago.  It dresses up its rates structure as being a unified or uniform rates structure across the whole area but because rates are based on property values and properties are more expensive at Evans Head we get to pay much much higher rates.

Council:  Mouthpiece For The State Government

The sad thing is council is not speaking up for ratepayers. It is just a mouthpiece for the State government, nothing more, which is run by the big end of town.   Local government is, after all, just a branch of the State government and has no genuine autonomy.  Gladys barks and we roll over!

To get a handle on this connection take a look at the NSW state government’s Integrated Planning and Reporting Guidelines which council uses to direct it in what it does. The Guidelines clearly stated that Council “…must give due regard to the State Plan and other relevant state and regional plans” Notice the word “must”, not “should” or “maybe”!  Council states quite clearly that it uses these Guidelines to deliver its plans for the future and has an obligation to do so.  So much for independence!  So the message we get from council is: ‘We want you, the ratepayers, to have your say, but ultimately we answer to the State government.

Loss of FAGS Grants

The State government wants to look to be the ‘good guys’ in all of this but it has set the agenda for the big rise in rates by cutting back/suspending Federal Assistance Grants (FAGS) and demands local governments increase rates to cover the loss. They’re forcing the issue by starving us of funds. They are making big savings by doing this but VWD has the view that the savings will be used at the next election for pork barrelling particularly for marginal seats, at our expense.  You will be paying for their election campaign.

So say NO to any proposal for an ‘above peg’ Special Rate Increase.

Council Has Poor Management Track Record: Get Your Own House in Order

Richmond Valley Council has a poor track record when it comes to managing ratepayer funds.  It has wasted millions on failed projects, failed to bring projects to completion, and had major cost blowouts on big projects.  And guess who the bunnies are who get to pay the price – the poor bloody ratepayers!

In the view of VWD, Council needs to tidy up its own mess and  live within its means.  It shouldn’t be coming to us all the time for extra funds.  Enough is enough.

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Crap Town Entrance Signs Come to Evans Head

Evans Head has just become the lucky recipient, at ratepayers expense of course, of two new crappy entrance signs.

Wow, now isn’t that impressive.  Just like the monolith straight out of 2001, A Space Odyssey.

Now doesn’t that wonderful monolith given your standard visitor to Evans Head a warm and fuzzy feel about the place.  Wow, what welcoming signs. Dirty concrete and faded triangles.

VWD couldn’t help but overhear a tourist extolling the virtues of the new signs: “As soon as I saw the sign I knew I was at home.  The faded triangles reached out to me in no ordinary way.  I was moved deep down inside just like I was the last time I had the runs….and we’re not talking cricket here!”

“Look Mum, an upside down set of fading triangles which were ‘stone washed’, or was that stoned before they were mounted!  The letters hang over the side.  How good is that!  How post modern in the way it deconstructs the essence of Evans Head”.

People will flock to Evans Head to see the signs.  We could even have a ‘festival of the sign’ to recognise this world class, best practice, benchmarked extravaganza of visual nothingness.

Close inspection shows the signs aren’t made of of dirty concrete.  No, they’re made of some type of plastic made to look like dirty concrete. How good is that!  Ain’t the aesthetics grand!  Plastic parading as stone. Facade parading as substance.

And of course this delightful sign followed extensive consultation with the community.  Yep, we all wanted faded colour triangles.    There were all kinds of meetings to nut out the best way to represent Evans Head and this was what the community came up with: Crap!

A new marketing tool perhaps for the local pub.  What better way to get people to go to the pub.  The signs are enough to drive people to drink they are just so bad.

It’s clear the faded triangles give us the narrative.   Feel the spirit of Evans Head and its rich history from World War II, Fishing, Sport, Aboriginal History and Culture and Natural History.  By looking at the faded triangles we are immediately moved to imagery befitting that history.  Yes we are, we really are.

For god’s sake Richmond Valley, stop wasting our money on crap. Stop wasting our 39% rates increase on what will soon be tip material.  Check the plastic side panels up close and you’ll notice there is already bubble.

And check the lettering and the way it has been set up.  Where is the attention to detail and why weren’t the blue pencil marks removed after mounting?

What VWD would like to know is whose brilliant idea was this and why wasn’t the community consulted?  What was wrong with the old parrot?

As a strategy to rebrand Richmond Valley the signs are a great success.  VWD gets the message. Council is trying to get across the image that Council is plastic and doesn’t give a stuff about the environment notwithstanding the fact that the signs are solar driven. All appearance, no substance.  Just fading away…………….!

And where did the population, now “pop” number of 3,000 come from.  Exactly 3,000.  Not one person more or less.  Yes, exactly 3,000 even though that’s not right.

And whatever happened to the village atmosphere the community has been saying for many years it wants to preserve?  How do these awful signs tell that story?  Looks like Sanctuary Cove or Las Vegas has come to Evans Head.

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