Retiring councillors recognised at final Hilltops meeting

Two former mayors are among the four Hilltops Shire Councillors not seeking re-election at the December 4 Hilltops Council elections.

Cr Chris Manchester (former Harden mayor) and Cr John Walker (former Young mayor), along with Cr Rita O'Connor and Cr John Wallace will not appear on the ballot paper when ratepayers go to the polls next week.

The final meeting of the current council was held this week with the contributions of the four councillors officially recognised.

Cr O'Connor lead the praise for Cr Manchester pointing out he had served local government for 34 years between 1987 and 2021.

He served for 16 of those years as mayor of Harden.

Cr John Walker has served as a councillor for two decades, three of those years as mayor of the former Young Shire Council.

Current mayor Brian Ingram said councillors Manchester and Walker had "given basically half a lifetime to local government".

"I commend you both, Cr Manchester in Harden and Cr Walker in Young Shire and for your contribution through Hilltops Council as well," Cr Ingram said.

Cr John Horton recalled "good advice" he received from Cr Manchester.

"When I first became a councillor eight or nine years ago Chris was the mayor of Harden Shire and he impressed one thing on us all and I've never forgot it," Cr Horton said.

Cr Rita O'Connor, John Walker, Chris Manchester and Tony Wallace are not re-standing.

Cr Rita O'Connor, John Walker, Chris Manchester and Tony Wallace are not re-standing.

The advice was" "Once you leave this meeting what happens here stays here, we all go out good friends".

"That was really good advice, have an argument, have a disagreement but when you leave the meeting stay good friends. Thank you for all you taught me Chris," Cr Horton said.

Fellow councillor, Tony Flanery said it had been "always good to engage whether you agree or disagree".

"To John Walker, who I haven't had a lot to do with before Hilltops, he has obviously served an extensive time on council, congratulations for that," Cr Flanery said.

"To Cr Manchester, who spent I think 20 odd years with my father on council and I have spent 12 years on council with, thank you for the time you have spent with me, we have had some disagreements, we've had a lot of agreements, you should always focus on the good not the bad. To give 30 odd years is a feat."

Cr Flanery also recognised the demands placed upon the families of those who devote time to local government service.

"You don't stand for council or public office if your family don't support you. To the families of those who have been here, particularly Chris and John we recognise you for the support you have given," Cr Flanery said.

Mayor Ingram also recognised Cr O'Connor for her service on the inaugural Hilltops Council and Cr Wallace for his service on the previous Young Council and the first ever Hilltops Council.

"Thank you for your service, it hasn't always been a party, it's been a bit of a roller coaster for a lot of people and some things have been said that shouldn't have been," Cr Ingram said.

"Cr Horton, you're right, outside it should all be back to great friends, sometimes that's hard to do.

"I'd like to acknowledge everyone who has been part of the first Hilltops Council, we knew it was going to be tough, we knew it was going to be hard and its met our expectations without any problem in that regard," Cr Ingram said.