Reflecting on anniversary of merger: Councillor John Walker’s column

As Hilltops Council this week welcomes Edwina Marks as general manager it is timely to reflect on our first 12 months as a merged council. 

There is an old saying "farming looks mighty easy when your plough is a pencil and you are a thousand kilometres from the wheat field.” 

An appropriate reflection on the first anniversary of the merging of Young, Harden and Boorowa councils into Hilltops Council. 

Good or bad I see the political decisions made without understanding the practical application have us still preparing the seed bed of that field. 

To that end I commend outgoing acting general manager David Aber for holding together this process and systematically putting things in place to assure stability into the future with his practical experience. 

All residents should be pleased with the efforts of council staff in assuring the merger is successful and can be satisfied with the overall result.  We still have some way to go on that journey.

It was satisfying for me to be part of the Integrated Water Cycle Management Project Reference Group and to sit around the table with other levels of government analysing data to plan the future needs for replacement, growth and funding programs. 

The classic example of course is the upgrade of the Boorowa water supply system which is already struggling to meet demand and not quite capable of supporting future growth.

Several infrastructure audits have been carried out to determine the base we have to build on within the whole of Hilltops, to meet the needs of not only the replacement of ageing facilities, but also for renewal and expansion for potential growth. 

Throughout Hilltops Council area, infrastructure is in all levels of age and condition - roads, buildings, water and sewer systems, and garbage facilities range from new to no longer meeting current legislative requirements. 

Road and bridge infrastructure is also at all age levels from new to over 100 years old. 

The ever increasing demands on vehicle movements and load capacity means that there is a need for critical upgrades in some areas. 

Residents should be satisfied to know that professional engineering and planning analysis is underway in coordination between all levels of government.

You may be aware that safety weight or speed restrictions have already been imposed on some bridges and we are currently assessing the work that needs to be undertaken to bring this into our planning processes and budgets.

I would also like to reflect on our local heritage which to me is equally significant. As Chair of Hilltops Council's 355 Young Town Committee I am pleased to acknowledge the Young Town Band as one of the longest continual playing bands in Australia and part of our history.

You can see listed on the memorial gates to Carrington Park the names of band members who served their country during World War 1.

Even more significant is the fact that The Town Band was in existence during the reading of the riot act of the 1860's and it is the same attitude from dedicated volunteers that allows us to share in the same enjoyment of community inspired music today.

I would like to encourage musicians of all levels and age groups throughout Hilltops to join the band.

Similarly, other community events throughout Hilltops may like to share the services of the Young Town Band.

To this end, I can be contacted via my contact details on Councils website if you would like any further information. May we all continue to grow on the foundations of this proud heritage.

Councillor John Walker