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Residents must continue to push council evolution

13 Aug 2013

Editorial Comment by Sean Rogasch

The changing of the guard for the Southbank Residents Group represents a very important stage in Southbank’s residential history.

As reported on page 7, both its president and vice-president are standing down at the AGM in October.

The group has more support and more relevance than ever before.

It is essential for all residents of Southbank that this group continues its important work and equally important that it finds the right people to move forward.

The City of Melbourne (CoM) is in the midst of a transformation itself and residents of Southbank and the rest of the municipality have been the big winners.

Traditionally, the City of Melbourne has had a very small number of residents within its boundaries. With the advent of vertical communities in Southbank, Docklands and the CBD, the council now finds itself with just over 100,000 residents.

While there has been some lag time, where the council needed to get onboard, it is now apparent that CoM is doing its job as an advocate for the residents of the municipality. The previous council came under fire from Southbank residents on this front, particularly in its decision-making surrounding the Queensbridge Tower development.

With a new council line-up and a new proposal for the site, the council now has the opportunity to make good of the positive vibes residents are feeling for it.

The Southbank Residents Group, under outgoing president Michael Smolders, has been tireless in creating these open dialogues to encourage better relationships between council and the State Government.

In the past month the SRG has been given every indication from councillors that they are on its side.

This important work must be continued. If it’s not, all the hard work of the last couple of years by the SRG would have been in vain.

The suburb is at a unique and important juncture.

While the City of Melbourne has always had residents, they had been confined to the northern side of the city, allowing the council to promote the central and southern ends for business and tourism. The council was acting as an advocate for Melbourne and its marketability.

It has begun to, and must continue to, grow into just as strong an advocate for the people living within these parts of Melbourne.

For this to be guaranteed, the residents themselves need to ensure they are putting their issues forward in a coherent matter and the best way to do that is by using SRG as the vehicle.

On a personal level Southbank Local News would like to acknowledge and congratulate both Michael Smolders and Barry Janes on their work at the helm of the SRG, and wish them well into the future.

You can read Michael’s column on page 15.

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