Trentham ups the ante

Trenthamites unite: Trentham Community Forum Inc. secretary Ian MacBean, Trentham Recreation Reserve Committee of Management secretary/treasurer Georgie Patterson, Trentham Community Forum Inc. president Edward Weislitzer, Trentham Facilities Review Committee chair Andy Roberston and Trentham Business and Tourism Group secretary Helen Macdonald are calling on the Minister for Local Government to step in to address discrimination against Trentham and its community by Hepburn Shire Council.A group of Trentham residents representing nine community organisations is calling on the state government to step in to adjudicate Trentham’s longstanding ‘rate equity’ dispute with Hepburn Council.

The group has written to Minister for Local Government, Natalie Hutchins, calling for an independent review to examine the council’s neglect of Trentham over the past 20 years.

Spokesperson Ian MacBean said the group was frustrated by the council’s continuing lack of serious action to address the demonstrated inequality Trentham suffered relative to other towns in Hepburn Shire.

“We have been asking for a fair go for years and we’re tired of being fobbed off with interminable working groups, more consultations and feasibility studies,” Mr MacBean said.

“We first raised the need for council to provide core community facilities similar to those in other towns in 2009.”

A ‘Fair Go for Trentham’ petition with more than 600 signatures was presented to council in early 2014.

“All we’ve seen is even more facilities being built in the other towns,” Mr MacBean said.

“What’s been especially frustrating is that council has never denied, or tried to refute, our claims – but they certainly won’t admit it.

“We understand that Trentham and Coliban Ward contribute more than 20 per cent of the shire’s total rate income, but analysis over many years show that we are getting less than five per cent of council’s discretionary project spend.

“Trentham needs an independent review to sort this injustice out once and for all.”

The group’s message has been heard loud and clear by local ward councillor and newly elected mayor Sebastian Klein, who ran on the platform of equity and made it clear in the run up to the mayoral vote that that would be his priority as mayor.

“It clearly signifies a deeply held view and experience from Trentham residents and I hope that it results in some really positive outcomes, things like systems that actually make it clear how council will acquit our responsibilities to each of the communities in the shire,” Cr Klein said.

Cr Klein said that for the first time since he had been on council, councillors who live in each of the wards had been elected.

“So there’s a great diversity of geographical representation as well as a range of skills and perspectives.

“I think that in each of their communities they’ve got a mind to provision of services to all of our residents and citizens,” he said.

* The Minister’s office had not responded to our questions at the time of going to press.

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