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City of Whittlesea passes council, financial plans

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THE City of Whittlesea has adopted its two strategic plans – the council plan 2021-25 and the long-term financial plan 2021-2031 – following community consultation.

The plans, which build on and re-endorse the long-term community vision – Whittlesea 2040: A place for all – were adopted at a special October council meeting.

The community plan incorporates various other council plans including the municipal public health and wellbeing plan, disability action plan and pandemic recovery plan into the one overarching document.

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Council also adopted its community plan’s action plan for 2021-2022.

Chair administrator Lydia Wilson said the plans would help guide council’s efforts over the coming years.

“The council plan and long-term financial plan set the strategic direction for how council will invest its time, efforts and spending and the action plan provides the detail for the first year,” she said.

“We’ve set an ambitious program of work to deliver on our Whittlesea 2040 goals.”

Highlights of the plan include a focus on public safety, festivals, events, social connection and sports facilities as well as new and upgraded parks and playgrounds, transport improvements, clean streets and road safety.

Council will work on making the City of Whittlesea a smart choice for business growth, innovation and investment, enabling opportunities for local work and education.

There will also be an emphasis on waste management, biodiversity and increasing the number of trees.

Council continue to improve customer service and how it engages with the community and delivers efficient and effective services.

The financial plan 2021-2031 shows how council will fund projects and others over the next 10 years.

“Our overarching approach is to strike the right balance between spending on projects and services for the community and managing our financial reserves long-term to achieve our Whittlesea 2040 vision,” Ms Wilson said.

Council will continue to advocate to both the state and federal governments on behalf of the community for funding that will support key projects integral to the ongoing development of the municipality over the next decade.

Ms Wilson said it was important to ensure strategic documents were reflective of community’s priorities.

“We embarked on a large community consultation program over the course of this year to make we were in alignment with our community,” she said.

More than 1300 people joined the conversation online and at face-to-face events during February and March to give council a clear understanding of the community’s priorities, and more than 5000 pieces of feedback were considered in the development of the plan

As a result of the feedback, council made some changes to the original draft community plan.

Changes included strengthening the arts and cultural initiatives and adding carers and gender diverse communities as key target populations.

“We also had 26 people join our participatory budgeting workshops to develop recommendations for the $2m community recovery fund,” Ms Wilson said.

Key initiatives of the community plan 2021-2025 include:

Coordinate recovery efforts across the municipality including COVID-19 safe messaging and mass vaccinations, and a grants program to support community service organisations as well as emergency relief;

Establish a gathering place to increase connections to culture, heritage, land and healing for Aboriginal people;

Increase the quality, access, safety and amount of public open space in the municipality, including additional dog parks and a local park improvement program;

Design and upgrade streetscapes and shopping precincts to make it easier to move about, celebrate local culture, heritage and character, and connect people to the natural environment;

As part of COVID recovery, deliver a ‘support local’ campaign and incentive program to support the community and local businesses

Work with the State Government and key stakeholders to progress planning for key employment precincts such as Epping central, the Beveridge Intermodal Freight Terminal, Melbourne Food Innovation and Export Hub and the Vearings Road employment precinct;

Deliver key actions from the Rethinking Waste Plan, including introducing residential glass recycling, extending food and garden waste services, protecting the environment from litter and increasing sustainable procurement;

Deliver on our Greening Whittlesea Strategy including increasing tree canopy along main road residential streets and in conservation reserves, park and major facilities;

Improve customer service through investing in technology, systems and council staff and make it easier for the community to interact with council;

Maintain strong communications with the community to promote access to services including multilingual, accessible for all and mobile friendly communication and website.

People can view the final community plan 2021-25 and 2021-22 action plan and long-term financial plan 2021-2031 on council’s website.

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