To Cluster Or Not To Cluster

On Thursday evening representatives of the various village associations from within Blayney Shire were invited to attend a meeting to discuss Council's proposal for a Development Coordinator Program. The proposal seeks to guard against the loss of local autonomy in the face of the Blayney/Orange/Cabonne Council merger by implementing four 'village clusters'. Each of these clusters will be allocated $25,000 per annum over four years to employ a development coordinator whose job will be to source external grant funding, coordinate and promote local events and represent the association in its dealings with Council.

The program is the 'brainchild' of General Manager Rebecca Ryan who spoke about her experience with the Warrumbungle's Shire where she successfully implemented such a scheme. Councillor David Sommerville, who also attended the meeting, believes that this concept has the potential to strengthen local communities in the face of council mergers which will move the administrative focus further away. Whilst the reaction from village representatives was one of tentative support there were also a number of concerns raised with regard to the degree of authority these clusters would have in choosing and dismissing a co-ordinator. There were also concerns over the possible loss of autonomy of individual village associations by setting up a cluster association. There is still much to be discussed and council would like feedback within the next couple of weeks. By August they would like to begin work setting up the new incorporated bodies

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