Central Coast Mayor, Lisa Matthews, is set to embark on a tour of the region, looking at “the good, the bad and the ugly” of the Central Coast, accompanied by top council staff members.
Since being elected to the top job on September 23, Clr Matthews said that she had focused on getting to know every part of the region.
“I haven’t been across the whole of the LGA yet and I am aware that my knowledge of things to the north of the region is sound, since that is where I have spent most of my time on Council,” she said.
“Since my knowledge of projects in the south of the region is not as thorough, I intend to start in those areas on what you could call a travelling road show.
“I have asked each Director of Council to provide five opportunities to go on location to see the good things Council has done or is doing.
“There seems to be a lot of negativity around Council and I want to let residents know about the good work we are doing in communities.”
The move is in keeping with Clr’s Matthews’ announcement on election that community engagement would be high on her list of priorities.
“My style is that I’m an engager,” she said.
“I believe in taking the community with me so I am looking at working with all of the community.
“I’m looking at engaging all the councillors.”
The second phase of her tour would focus on “things we could do better”, she said.
“I am meeting with the CEO every week to keep updated on exactly what is happening all over the region,” she said.
Clr Matthews said another of her priorities would be a major push on infrastructure throughout the region, with gaining funding from her State and Federal colleagues high on the agenda, money which she said hadn’t been forthcoming enough since the regional Council was formed following the amalgamation of Gosford and Wyong Councils.
Clr Matthews comes to the position with a wealth of experience.
She was a Councillor on the former Wyong Council, elected in 2008, and appointed Deputy Mayor in 2011.
Prior to becoming a Councillor, she worked for Council as a community development worker.
She has been Chair of the Status of Women Advisory Group for eight years and is a member of the traffic committee, consultative committee, sports committee and grants committee.
She works as a community liaison officer with the Department of Education where she provides programs that promote lifelong learning and tools to empower young people.
Clr Matthews said she intended to “run a steady ship”.
“Becoming Mayor isn’t about me, it’s about the opportunity to be the leader of the team,” she said.
She said that although the new Council started on “shaky ground” following amalgamation, she felt that it had come together well and achieved some positives under the leadership of former Mayor, Jane Smith.
Although she was elected on a Labor ticket, Clr Matthews said she was frustrated when people made assumptions about the influence of party politics on Council decisions.
“We certainly don’t deal on party lines,” she said.
“We deal with what’s come in to Council and we make decisions on what’s come in, what’s happened and what information we get from staff and we make our decisions on that.
“Party lines don’t happen in Council and shouldn’t happen in Council.”
Clr Matthews said Council has a robust operational plan in place for the next 12 months and her goal was to keep working towards delivering that.
“Priority areas that residents have told us should be our focus include improving our water and sewer networks, roads, the environment, community facilities and open space and recreation, and these areas will feature heavily in our plans as we strive to create a sustainable and connected Central Coast community that we can all be proud of,” she said.
Central Coast Council mayoral election and press conference, Sep 23
Interview, Oct 29
Central Coast Mayor, Lisa Matthews
Reporters: Terry Collins and Merilyn Vale