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Council Column- 5 August 2020- Councillor Rita O’Connor

Aug 5, 2020

Charles Darwin wrote, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

There is no doubt that 2020 has been a most challenging year. Over the last week I have been told that nothing should change in Hilltops because we don’t have a COVID-19 problem. If we are honest, we will realise that many changes have already happened and it is up to us to manage them, be resilient and adapt.

Local government has many challenges. While it is business as usual, the way some business is being done has changed. I would ask each of us to support our local community in whatever way possible.

The format of our big events has had to change. We cannot safely encourage masses of tourists to visit us, therefore much of the format for these events is online. This still gives us the opportunity to support the event and businesses in some way while our region continues to be marketed to a wider audience. Shop local, shop in the Hilltops is more important now than ever. It is also the time to think creatively about how we can ensure our business can survive.

At last Friday night’s Extraordinary Council Meeting the new Operational Plan, Fees and Charges for the next 12 months was approved. We are in for more tough times and some difficult decisions will need to be made. There is no way to gloss over the position we are in; however, with good management the situation should ameliorate. All fees and charges have had the maximum 2.6% rate increase applied. Water and sewer charges across Hilltops and rates harmonisation are areas being worked on.

I urge everyone to be proactive and vigilant about safety. Complacency is our enemy.

Councillor Rita O’Connor