Welcome to 2021!

Tony Penna

I am sure for many it is certainly welcome. While I am hopeful 2021 will be a better year, I am still filled with many reservations.

The future is still looking so uncertain, albeit promising thus far. I don’t know about you, but once COVID started, 2020 seemed to have zipped by.

While we were all locked up and restricted, it feels only like yesterday that restrictions began with the cancellation of the Grand Prix.

Next month will be 12 months. You may recall in my December column that after the approval for the 42-storey building at the Boyd Park, we received a commitment from council for dialogue with our residents about the future of Southbank and the opportunities to be exploited and developed.

Our committee has been working hard to make this happen and with the personal commitment of the Lord Mayor, it seems this is likely to happen sometime in March.

We think we have sourced a venue, in Southbank, which will be able to comfortably accommodate between around 150 to 200 people in a COVID-safe environment.

I will certainly keep you informed of the details in my March column. This will NOT be an opportunity to beat-up the council about any failures of the past within Southbank, and we know there are many, but about the looking to the future.

There will be nothing achieved if the focus is on highlighting the failures of the council in the past, I am confident the council is certainly aware of the things they could have done better and maybe the opportunities that might have been lost.

There will be very little achieved dwelling on the past, but valuable time lost to focus and plan for the future.

I have specially requested the CEO and directors of the critical portfolios, such as capital works, city design, etc, instead of councillors, with the exception of the Lord Mayor and the planning councillors, for obvious reasons.

The reason for this is that unbeknown to many, councillors are not the decision-makers in council, but it is the executive from the CEO down.

Yes, of course councillors can influence the priorities and the process/outcomes, but predominately council is run by its executive and, in my opinion, these are the very people we need to get onside to commit to Southbank.

I suspect the top three issues of discussion will be, but not in any order of importance, open space (preferably green open space), Southbank Boulevard and City Rd upgrades.

Our committee is also preparing for a “community day” sometime later this year, possibly around October.

As you will recall, we were planning our inaugural community day in March last year, however COVID put a stop to that.

If anyone in our community has any suggestions for our community day or would like to assist us with the planning,

I encourage you to reach out to us. Our annual general meeting (AGM) will be mid this year.

Once again, we will be looking for people to join our committee of volunteers.

If you would like to know more about what we do, maybe attend a few committee meetings in time for nominating at the AGM, please make contact as you would be most welcome.

Finally, if you would like to support Southbank Residents’ Association (SRA) through membership, then this can be done via our website, southbankresidents.org.au.

Without membership our lobbying reach is very little. Our members are what give us a voice •  

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