The past month or so has been a busy time for your Chamber.
The fact that you can still speak to local business owners about their fantastic experience with the second Bello Winter Music event some 4 weeks later, is testament to the huge impact it had on all across our businesses and the broader community. I caught up with Mark Troy and Liz Jeremy just last week and both couldn’t get the smile off their faces when reflecting on the positive vibe that our town enjoyed over that weekend.
Although much of what the Chamber team did to assist in the success of the event was very much behind the scenes, the Chamber received a very warm and thankful letter from Glen Wright, the founder and promotor of BWM, and his team commending us for the work and effort we put in to assist the overall success. Glen has a debrief with Council in a few weeks and then they will start their early planning for 2018….keep it coming!!
Just after the euphoria of Bello Winter we had the Federal election. The Chamber held its ‘regular’ event of meet the candidates with a great turnout from those standing, with all present except unfortunately sitting member (and eventual winner) Luke Hartsuyker. Notwithstanding his absence (for which he apologised explaining our event clashed with another commitment), we had over 140 locals cram into St Margaret’s Hall for a “Q&A” style event. It was a great turnout – including a number of our younger generation from Bellingen Eye (who got some 1:1 time with Rob Oakeshott after the event…thanks Rob) – with lively questioning and debate. Again thanks to members of the Chamber and interested locals for helping with the logistics behind this important event.
A few weeks ago we had another very interesting event with the leading Real Estate Agents and Council’s Senior Planning Officer and senior management meet to discuss all things about real estate across Bello. With about 45 people attending and lots of questions from the floor, it was a spirited but engaging discussion covering the full breadth of issues….affordable housing, cost of land development, access to land for development, secondary dwellings, st he poor state of the main road streetscape, the CBD Masterplan, and the role and actions of Council to name just a few. Pleasing one key complaint from lawyers and agents concerning Council’s speed of producing s149 certificates (needed to progress any market listing) has already resulted in improvements in turnaround time by Council. Clearly from the breadth of issues discussed, the commitment from Liz and her team to look at many of the issues raised and the positive feedback from attendees, this event will have a follow up in the new year.
One matter that has been of particular concern to local businesses for some time is Council’s procurement policy and in partcular its provisions concerning supporting (well to be more precise, not supporting) local businesses and capabilities. Council put its existing policy out for comment and the Chamber submitted a detailed (and critical) submission both on the process of consultation and the content of the policy. Our submission can be found on our website if you are interested (it was also circulated by email last month).
Pleasingly we have now received a letter from Liz Jeremy advising that Council adopted a resolution that in light of our submission, Council defer consideration of the policy and enter into discussions with stakeholders\ the Chamber. This is great outcome, but it does come with some downside as the existing inadequate and irrational policy continues until a new (and hopefully) much improved policy is brought back to Council for consideration….with no timeline and the pending Council elections, I would expect this to run into 2017! Anyway we will ‘keep on keeping on’ as with Council being such a dominant procurer of services in our town (much more so than what you would find in the cities), this is important for our local business people.
That is a great segue into my last matter and that is to advise all of our next event: Meet the Candidates standing for election in the Bellingen Shire in a ‘Q&A’ style event.
So please place this in your diaries:
Date: 1 September 2016
Place: St Margaret’s Hall, Oak St Bellingen
Time: 445pm for 5pm start, finishing at 730pm
Entry: Free for members, $5 for non members (it is open to all businesses and people in our broader community)
So as I said at the start, lots been on and lots happening by your Chamber team….happy trading & looking forward to seeing you and your friends on Sept 1
Bruce Levy (Lily Pily Country House)
President, Bellingen Chamber of Commerce