Councillor profiles

A regular feature this month featuring two Councillors from South Australia

Mayor Ivan Brooks, Mitcham City Council, South Australia

Q. Can you tell us about your city?

The City of Mitcham, with a population of 61,000, is Adelaide’s oldest metropolitan Council, founded in 1853. It is situated some six kilometres from the City of Adelaide and extends into the beautiful Mitcham Hills. It comprises an area of 71.5 square kilometres. With the Hills Face Zone, which provides a backdrop to all of metropolitan Adelaide, forming part of our Council, this area is protected by stringent planning requirements and comprises mainly wooded areas. It is a unique backdrop because of its close proximity to metropolitan Adelaide.

Residents of Mitcham live in 30 suburbs all of which have their own particular style and community spirit. From the leafy backdrop of the Hills environment, to the foothills homes which share magnificent panoramic views of Adelaide and the plains, the variety and uniqueness of the area are obvious. Our suburbs include some of Adelaide’s most prestigious. The heritage listed garden suburb of Colonel Light Gardens provides an excellent example of 1920s town planning. Historic Belair is a unique suburb surrounded on three sides by parks including South Australia’s oldest park, Belair National Park. Craigburn Farm is a new housing development comprising 1,200 homes. Together our suburbs demonstrate a continuation of the theme that Mitcham is indeed a safe, healthy, tolerant and prosperous community to live in.

Q. How long have you been on Council?

I was first elected in 1995 with the first five years as a Councillor and the last five as Mayor. I first became involved through the proposed Council amalgamation process, and have found the roles of Councillor and Mayor challenging, interesting and rewarding.

Q. What are some of the challenges?

Local Government today continues to struggle with the dilemma of having to maintain its existing infrastructure, at the same time as trying to progress the many projects requested by both Council and the community. Councils are expected to keep rate rises to a minimum, while continuing to maintain and even increase the range of services provided to the community.

Q. What are the important issues?

  • To keep Council up to date with forward thinking.
  • To ensure Mitcham is a safe and environmentally friendly place for our residents to live, work and play.
  • South Australia has a lack of quality water, which we are trying to address in our planning provisions, in terms of both stormwater and collection of water.
  • The need to provide better youth and sporting facilities has been addressed recently with the opening of a community recreational facility, located within one of our State high schools.
  • Mitcham has a high percentage of elderly residents, wishing to stay in their own homes for as long as possible. Council has a commitment to provide the various support services required to help these residents extend their ability to remain independent and self supporting.
  • Council has recently implemented a three bin waste management system, which has proved very popular and beneficial. The amount of waste now going to landfill has decreased substantially. Acceptance of recycling has increased dramatically and people are delighted to have a dedicated green waste bin which means this material now goes to a mulching facility converting it to a water saving saleable product.

Q. What are the key aspects of being a good Councillor?

Being a good listener.

Councillor Jeanette Linn OAM, Walkerville Town Council, South Australia

Q. How long have you been on Council?

This is my first term as an elected member, I was sworn into Council after the May 2003 elections.

Q. Can you tell us about your municipality?

Walkerville Council’s area is small by comparison with other Councils. It has many charming features including large old residences, purpose built units for retired older folk, senior citizens homes, Walkerville Residential Care Centre, a village atmosphere in the shopping area, with one adverse feature – a very busy central Walkerville Terrace – with heavy traffic several times a day and a few dangerous corners for pedestrians to manoeuvre. The River Torrens is on the boundary – a linear park has been developed and is maintained at a high standard by Council and other workers. Many trees have been and continue to be planted. This is a beautiful place for walking and bike riding.

At the weekends, the whole Council area is quiet and serene. Schooling is popular in Walkerville. There are two state primary schools, two private primary schools, a private girl’s college and a kindergarten/ school for the deaf. There is a heritage cemetery which includes some well known South Australians - suffragette Mary Lee, John Fullerton Cleland and Philip Le Cornu. A Committee of Council (mainly voluntary residents) help with the care and restoration of headstones through their fundraising efforts. Council has recently agreed to reopen the cemetery for the internment of ashes with a 99 year lease.

The library, part of the SWAP Library Network has a very warm and friendly focus for many residents, including children. As a keen reader and library borrower, I am pleased to be a Council representative on the SWAP Library Network Committee. The library is attached to the Council office.

Walkerville, Vale Park and Gilbert/Medindie Ward residents are living in a very pleasant spot on this earth!

Q. What are some of the challenges you have faced in Local Government?

The main challenge to a new Councillor is to deal with the language and information overload. I have had the opportunity to attend two live in conferences organised by the Local Government Association of South Australia and the 2004 National Conference – all of which have speeded up my learning curve and I thank Council for this opportunity. Keeping in touch with residents is a challenge, but I am about in the village and Council Office and remain available on the telephone. Involvement in the planning of the new town centre provides a great and exciting challenge.

Q. What are important issues to you?

Safety for residents both at home and on the streets. Traffic control and road safety continues to be a major issue. A traffic study is at present being undertaken as a forerunner to the town centre development. Involvement of younger people in the affairs of Council. Keeping the community involved and informed.

Q. Some of issues facing Council

The issues are the town centre development, parking and traffic issues caused by school needs. Rates – keep as low as possible but maintain current standard of service to ratepayers and residents and maintenance of services in the Town for the increasing ageing population.

Q. What are the key aspects of being a good Councillor?

Listen to electorate – being highly visible in the community. Confer with Mayor and fellow Councillors and Council staff. Give attendance at Council meetings and participation in Council events a high priority. Read the documents and ask questions if necessary – always be informed.

Q. What recent initiative of Walkerville Council has had a significant impact on your community?

The acquisition of Department of Transport Land has allowed Council to move ahead with the great challenge of the development of residential and better amenities for residents and visitors in the Town of Walkerville. At present the village almost goes to bed for the weekend – but it is envisaged that providing a Town Square with access to a pleasant outdoor living atmosphere – with direct access through to Linear Park and the sports areas will bring the Town alive for people of all ages. The challenge is to find the key to maintaining the feeling of the village as we move forward from this, our sesquicentenary year.