From the Mayor’s desk | Eye on Dubbo

Cooperation: Sadly, we got it terribly wrong with the Victoria Park Number 1 Oval upgrades. On the surface a $7.1 million grant is a huge win. Photo: PAIGE WILLIAMS
Cooperation: Sadly, we got it terribly wrong with the Victoria Park Number 1 Oval upgrades. On the surface a $7.1 million grant is a huge win. Photo: PAIGE WILLIAMS

Eye on Dubbo

These days democracy doesn’t mean you elect officials who then become the “be all and end all” of all decision making.

Democracy is about elected officials gathering expert, non-biased advice and making sure decisions that are being made have had widespread consultation.

I am a big believer that the majority of Dubbo region residents are on Team Dubbo’s side and genuinely want to see our area be the best it can be.

Dubbo people have a reputation for cooperation and wanting a growing Dubbo with a thriving community.

It’s for this reason that when our elected officials and senior public servants need to make a major decision, public consultation usually ensures the decision made is accepted by the community.

That the community is confident any changes made as a result of the decision are both technically and objectively correct.

Sadly, we got it terribly wrong with the Victoria Park Number 1 Oval upgrades. 

On the surface a $7.1 million grant from the state government is a huge win. 

The plan is to enable a larger playing field that will attract bigger and better cricket and rugby events.

But there’s a problem. 

The plan also means that the cycle track needs to be moved elsewhere.  Seems simple - but the simplicity of the project is not so.

Turns out that the cycle track around Victoria Park Number 1 Oval is one of the oldest in Australia. 

It’s been the training ground to not only the world renowned international gold medal champion Bob Spears but has produced champions too numerous to name. 

Added to that members of the cycle club will testify that the track is one of the very few that has a reputation for having a perfect surface.

The cycle club didn’t have an opportunity for consultation on this latest decision. 

They discovered the big changes on the front page of the Daily Liberal.  Rightfully, the club is angry. 

Even I, possibly the non-sportiest person on the planet, am concerned about ripping up part of my town’s delicate history.

The latest decision was made during the period of Administration where Council had no elected officials. 

No recent public consultation is what has caused this huge ruckus.

As Mayor, my attitude is that we need to engage the Dubbo Cycle Club with frank, open and honest discussion and seek their views on what should happen. 

The members of the club are not stupid. 

They understand that times change and society moves on. 

But, they are also cognisant that the region needs a world class flat track cycling facility that appropriately reflects the rich history of the sport in Dubbo. 

Like me, they have a deep concern for preserving our city’s history.

I have asked the cycle club to write me a list of all the things that would make cycling better in our community. 

I’ve asked them to think big and what new infrastructure is needed to get even more kids excited and involved in their sport. 

The list is being formulated right now and hopefully with the right amount of good will from Council and the State Government we will be able to accommodate the Dubbo Cycle Club’s grand vision for the City’s future in cycling.

The lesson we need to learn from this affair is senior government officials and politicians are not the source of all knowledge and community sentiment. 

It’s the job of elected officials to engage the community in discussion to reach consensus.

It’s for this reason that as the new Mayor of Dubbo Regional Council I pledge to work closely with all the sporting stakeholders of Number 1 Oval and to the best of my ability get everyone on the same team - Team Dubbo.

Ben Shields