All systems go as council changes course
TURNING the Queen Mary around was often used as a metaphor to describe the enormity of a task.
At 81,000 tons and 310 metres in length, the Queen Mary was one of the most powerful ships built, dwarfing the Titanic at 52,000 tons and 268 metres.
Due to the size and displacement of 206,712 cubic metres or water, manoeuvring the ship was a precise and monumental task against massive hydrodynamic forces.
What is the relevance you may ask?
The ship is a metaphor that well describes local government; the complexity of bureaucracies and the interdependence of systems and what is required before change becomes apparent.Read more
Just as passengers on board were oblivious to four sets of turbines supported by 24 boilers powering the ship and were not aware as they travelled more than 18km that a direction change was occurring, so it is with changes occurring in the shire which may not be readily apparent, yet are occurring with vigour.
So, are we changing direction? Absolutely. Considerable work is occurring to instil high standards of efficiency, transparency and governance in line with new standards being released.
Core to efficient operations is the database, in effect the turbines of the shire.
A new system to replace an outdated product has occurred; however, it is not as simple as installing MYOB or replacing a hard drive.
The migration of all data across to the new system is laborious and will require 18 months during which the two systems both operate. They are two systems which don’t quite mesh and require manual adjustments and from which delays and output issues occur.
It’s a new system the staff need to become familiar with.
Information, like the boilers, drives the turbines of government and comes from many sources but its delivery needs to be concise and easy to understand to be effective.
Information is now more concise and descriptive. Agendas have changed, councillors are regularly informed and a strong focus is placed upon the community being well informed and encouraged to participate.
The resumption of using The Toodyay Herald ensured information was locally and readily available for those not utilising social media.
A new approach is about to be trialled to ensure policies reflect and support community expectations and includes community opinion at the concept stage. The review of all policies and delegations is occurring.
There is a strong focus on a streamlined organisation that meets the needs of the community and their capacity to pay.
A no-nonsense approach and regular self examination of council and administration, with actions to address shortcomings is occurring. The Audit Committee has doubled its meetings to provide oversight during this transition period of systems, large projects and organisational review.
The audit scope has widened to include the best practice approaches of the Office of the Auditor General and the Department of Local Government, yet none of these changes are apparent to most in the community.
A great investment of time and energy is required before its apparent change has occurred.
Our biggest project, the recreation centre is progressing well with usage increasing and club user agreements with Clublinks nearly finalised.
The decision to allow early access (under advice), was to allow Clublinks time to organise, train staff and to provide community access to the pool.
Risk was managed through agreement to council’s essential terms, a Letter of Intent and extensive insurance by both parties.
The contract is now signed and all that remains is for the community to make full use of this magnificent facility.
So ends a year of significant challenges and solid achievements. I wish you all a wonderful break and the very best for 2021.
Please be patient. It’s all on track.