As I visit communities and events across our municipality, one of the issues that clearly concerns residents is the closure of shop fronts in Swan Hill. This is concerning for me as Mayor too.
We are certainly not alone in this issue. The convenience of online shopping and other changes in shoppers’ behaviour mean that CBD retailers in all towns and cities are under pressure.
In our community, the drought is adding pressure – less money in the farmers’ hip pocket means less money flowing through our entire community.
In tough economic times, all businesses look at their cost structures and some of the Swan Hill shop vacancies might be a direct response to this.
It is important to note that while some businesses have closed their doors, others have relocated from the CBD to different areas of our city. Some are actually moving into CBD shops – yes, leased signs are still going up.
We can complain about this. We can put the blame in any number of places.
But as a community, there is something tangible we can all do to start turning this around. We can take our shopping offline and through the doors of local stores. We have big brand retailers, long-standing local stores, and newer boutique shops too.
Spending your money with these stores means your money stays local – going to employees’ wages and local business owners. You also get on-the-spot after sales service, a friendly face to do business with. And we create a sense of community and pride by supporting each other.
Welcoming a new Councillor
Our Council is back to full capacity this week after the election of Nicole McKay to the Murray Mallee ward. Thank you to the 1500 people from the Murray Mallee ward who sent in their ballot papers and had their say.
Nicole – a midwife and community nurse – will be sworn in as a Councillor at the Ordinary Council Meeting on Tuesday at Swan Hill Town Hall at 4pm. The community is welcome to come along.
Funding coming our way
Swan Hill has been home to three major Federal announcements over the past month – for our new gallery and interpretive centre, our hospital and our bridge.
These are three big ticket projects that Council and community have been advocating for over many years. It is wonderful to see that work start to pay off in a big way, but it’s important to realise that the hard work really starts now.
Final designs are being compiled for the gallery and interpretive centre, while Swan Hill and Murray River Councillors are working together on the best location for a new bridge. The community committee continues to lobby the State to complete the hospital masterplan and fund it too.
As community members I encourage you all to spread the positivity about these projects, talk about them with friends and family, and get involved in any way you can.
Bromley Road next steps
We received an incredible response to our call for public comment on the potential sale of Bromley Road land.
It was great to hear people speak so passionately both for and against the sale – through their written submissions and when we held a Special Council Meeting in Robinvale on Monday. There was also a strong gallery of about 30 people at that meeting – thank you all for coming along.
In total, we received 99 submissions plus a petition calling for the land to be retained and consolidated into Bill McGinty Park.
All these points of view will be considered and a final decision on the potential sale is expected to be made at the Ordinary Council Meeting on 14 May. We hope to host that meeting in Robinvale to allow local community members to be there – more details to come.
Thank you to the Council staff and contractors who got the Perrin Street resurfacing job done so smoothly. And thanks to the community for your patience during the work.
I think you’ll all agree that it has been a big improvement visually and one we expect will last in top condition for many years to come.
A roads focus
We have continued advocating for better roads around Robinvale – directly with the Minister for Roads and by applying for funding.
When Minister for Roads Jaala Pulford and Member for Mildura Ali Cupper visited recently, there were some key projects on the agenda – upgrading Hattah-Robinvale Road, upgrading Robinvale-Sea Lake Road and truck stop facilities at Wemen.
We will continue lobbying for improvements to these state-managed roads.
We are also soon to start work on two already funded road projects – reconstructing a 3.8km section of Annuello Wemen Road, and sealing a 700m section of O’Connor Lane. Both these projects have been funded through the state’s Local Roads to Market projects.