Community rant – 295

Inner West’s no longer silent majority

I was so happy to be a part of Norton Street Festa and experience the vibrant community spirit and see the forlorn street buzzing again. It was a joyous community festival that brought residents, businesses and government together to promote and celebrate the unique area we live in.

So I was so sad at the end of the day to see a parking inspector booking a stallholder’s vehicle that was parked on a closed road. I told her the road was closed and that people moving their stock in and out of vehicles had to park nearby to access their stalls. That was why the road was closed. She huffed at me and told me it was her job.

I have supported council amalgamations (and lost many friends) as I thought it would enable operational change. I was part of the working group Leichhardt Council put together that helped create the plan/vision for 2020. It is now almost 2017 and I can see that we are a long way off. I was hoping Mr Pearson and his team, with their corporate rigour and governance skills, could eradicate, or at least improve, lazy workers, lazy revenue raising and stupid compliance rules and thus change the culture of Inner West local government.

It’s a huge task. And the forces opposing Pearson are considerable. The former councils were crippled by politics. Having three well-represented parties led to constant disagreement, slow policy, changing strategies, indecision and a poor allocation of resources.

The sacking of councillors should help expediate reform. Most of us residents and business owners want local government to change and become more efficient. There is strong social capital, goodwill and local economies that can only grow. Most of us are delighted with our amenities: the libraries, community festivals, sport fields and aquatic centres. The sustainability programs are all world class and the council staff that run them are great.

council workers spotted sleeping in their branded truck
Council workers spotted sleeping in their branded truck

Unfortunately, there are some toxic departments that encourage shirking, inefficiency and poor performance. These workers have been able to get away with it for years. Relying on parking revenue and section 96 compulsory donations has fattened up the council coffers, allowing some departments to operate without accountability. This tarnishes the image of the Inner West Council, and undermines all the great work that is done.

Add to that the noisy minority of Save Our Councils, and West CONnex action groups, who have NO role in improving community amenities and are only interested in their own political agendas. I wish they would shut up so Mr Pearson and his team can get on with the job of turning these departments around before the next lot of councillors get in.

Vocal community groups should stop stealing the agenda as, by and large, Mr Pearson and his team are supported by the silent majority. Please get on with the job, Mr Pearson. You are supported.

Name withheld