Forum puts spotlight on Bellarine Ward

Questions from the floor.

By Justin Flynn

Bellarine Ward candidates spoke at a forum and answered questions from Ocean Grovers last night.
The forum, which 12 of the 13 candidates attended, was held at Ocean Grove Bowling Club. Art Sims was the only candidate absent.
Forum facilitator Phil Emery said there were “around 100 to 120” people present.
The two-hour forum enabled candidates for the upcoming council elections to put forward their visions to voters. Voters will choose three candidates to fill the Bellarine Ward allocation of councillors.
“They were pleased to see so many of the candidates had turned up and they were also pleased that there was a forum taking place,” Mr Emery told the Voice.
“There was nothing contentious between the candidates – they seemed to realise that they need to work co-operatively as a threesome if elected.
“They’re all community-minded people to bother to come along to a forum and they were very respectful – so too were the candidates.”
Each candidate was give five minutes to introduce themselves and then answer three questions: what are the major challenges facing these coastal towns and communities represented here tonight?; what are the major challenges facing the Bellarine; and how do you envisage a three-councillor collaborative approach might work?; and how will you develop a consistent communication pathway and processes with all the Bellarine communities you will serve?
Mr Emery said hot topics were: community libraries, climate change, roads and housing developments.
“There was concern about growth corridors and a lack of infrastructure outside the developments themselves,” he said.
“There were concerns about climate change effects on the coastline and on agriculture and libraries came up a couple of times as did rail links and a few of the really busy roads, like the Barwon Heads to Geelong road.”
Drysdale traffic congestion and the state of Grubb Rd were also raised.
Mr Emery said the forum was a success.
“We put some thought into the structure behind it,” he said.
“We’d run forums before and put some thought into them so everything was clear.
“Candidates were asked about challenges across the Bellarine and some were very detailed and had done a lot of homework while others hit one key issue.”