THE first task on the agenda for Muswellbrook Shire Council’s newly-selected Community Panel was “learning about council”.
Convened for a day-long meeting at council’s Administration Centre last Saturday, the panel was introduced to the operation, guidelines and procedures of a Community Panel and an overview of the broad range of council’s services, financial management and governance.
Presentations from senior council staff included areas such as finance, utilities, roads and infrastructure, property and recreation, sustainability and community services.
The Community Panel , consisting of 27 residents randomly selected after August’s Customer Satisfaction Survey and representing a broad demographic, has been formed in line with the 2016/17 Community Engagement Strategy and applies the logic of a criminal jury - where citizens are asked to “weigh up the evidence, discuss it as a group and return with a recommendation”.
“It was very informative,” panel member Tania Dart said.
“I was impressed by the number of things council is doing, which I didn’t know about.
“It was also interesting to learn what is under council’s control and what is not, where the buck stops.”
Fellow panel member Pete Carmichael chimed in, too.
“I was amazed by the information presented about the sewerage and water treatment plant,” he said.
“The panel was constructive and I found that the open forum was a great way of generating ideas.
“I appreciated the openness, which council showed in receiving the community panel members’ feedback.
“I am looking forward to the next one.”
The Community Panel will reconvene on Saturday, November 18, when the topics for discussion will include economic development, the Future Fund, Muswellbrook Marketplace, LEP, town centre masterplans and regional projects.
Observers are welcome to attend but are not able to take part in any discussions.