City of Playford - a community of assets

By David Bernard*

Sure, the City of Playford manages its assets well, but this is not where our asset management stops.

We have a 10 year program of sealing all rural roads in a priority order, which recognises the importance to the horticultural industry and rural lifestyle.

We have databases which record the existence and condition of all our roads and footpaths. Drains information is following fast.

We know about our buildings - their condition, and how well they comply with legislation - enough to know that we need to put in place a vigorous program of rationalisation and replacement.

Our plant and equipment replacement program is in its third and final year. It was in a sad state upon amalgamation but it was wisely recognised that a functional and reliable fleet was fundamental to good service delivery and staff morale.

Council has committed in the order of $2 million per annum to make this happen.

Other asset owners in the City of Playford no doubt manage their assets just as well. But it is as if every asset exists in isolation. Interest stops at the fence line.

The metropolitan schools asset manager has coloured pins on the asset map which represent schools in the Playford area as do Property Trusts with their shopping centres - all managing their assets proudly, as islands in a community.

The City of Playford has taken asset management a step further than a preoccupation with its own.

We are taking an interest in our community of assets - everyone's assets in the City that work together to form a community. They are all interlinked and interdependent, and together form the community's infrastructure - the means by which a resident can move, shop, go to school and work and borrow a book.

The City of Playford knows that Local Government is pivotal to integrating and connecting the community's assets into a meaningful and complete lifestyle.

The asset management described earlier is internal and 'corporate' to the Council.

The next level, the community strategic level, is what matters to the residents - they assume that internal things are under control.

This level requires knowing about everyone's assets in the community - the housing, the industry, the wineries and olive oil producers, the schools, the State roads, the Darwin/Alice Springs railway, the electricity supply, the mobile phone transmitters, the Central Districts Football Club, the creeks and water re use opportunities, the retail centres and cemeteries, the whole cycle.

The City of Playford sees every Development Application and hears of most ideas and opportunities.

It behoves us to make it all happen - to drive the process so that the various asset initiatives act in harmony and to the benefit of the community.

Back to our assets. Do not underestimate them.

Our roads, libraries, parks and public toilets are the infrastructure that knits the community together.

The following two examples explain the City of Playford vision.

Firstly, our land is the most fundamental asset. The City can obtain no more within its boundaries.

It is important that all asset owners use it to best advantage. And that includes Council. We have 'lazy' land - we all do. It is about turning lazy land into community opportunity - new uses, new services.

It takes focus and hard work, but it is amazing how one can turn lazy land into new community services.

The City of Playford is taking the new Local Government Act seriously in this regard - all 706-parcels of our land are being scrutinised for their worth, value and community benefit. That which qualifies gets classified Community Land, that which under performs is open to change.

Another example of the City's assets initiative is the Regional Centre.

Elizabeth is one of the five proclaimed Regional Centres in metropolitan Adelaide.

Elizabeth is unique in South Australia. It was designed and established in the 1950s as a 'satellite' town - a planner's dream. Adelaide suburbia soon absorbed it.

Nevertheless the characteristics of this planned 'new town' still survive and feature strongly with the City of Playford, which governs it.

The heart of the Elizabeth Regional Centre is the shopping centre - and this has been in sad decline.

However the shopping centre owners, the Gandel Retail Trust and Stockland, are considering a $107 million revamp of the centre.

Next to the shopping centre are Council's theatres, Library, Council Chambers and Customer Service Centre.

Council has been working with the shopping centre owners to develop a strategy for an integrated improvement of both private and public assets in the Centre - a necessary rates rebate has assisted in negotiation.

These examples illustrate the necessary interplay between public and private assets - community assets to produce the best outcomes for the community.

Local Government must embrace this next level of asset management.

* David Bernard is Manager Assets at the City of Playford.