WITH council mergers dead and now half-buried, we caught up with some of the street coordinators who’d volunteered to run Vincent’s campaign to not split.
Eighteen months ago they joined more than 1000 locals opposed to the northern half of Vincent being shipped off to Stirling and the south going to Perth. Geoff Cooper, Joel Birch and Geraldine Box signed up as street coordinators to spread the word, take petitions, lobby the pollies and hand out signs and posters for houses and businesses to put up. Volunteer efforts partly meant Vincent’s merger preparation costs were around $90,000, a tenth of nearby councils.
Joel Birch, who teaches teachers, says he got on board because he used to live in Stirling and when he moved to Vincent he liked its community atmosphere.
He says in other areas he lived in “you only ever heard from council at rates and bulk rubbish collection time” but after he moved to Vincent, “I actually met councillors!”. He volunteered because “it was better than complaining with my friends later when it had happened”.
Mr Cooper, who once trained as a mediaevalist before working in acadaemia, says after such a long struggle with so many twists and turns, it was “strangely anti-climactic” when the premier ran up the white flag.
“What started off as a protest of losing my local council became more than that, it became about Barnett’s arrogance versus people power.”
Ms Box says she got involved “because I lived here for over 30 years and I saw Vincent when it was a part of the City of Perth.
“When we became Vincent, I realised what a good local government could be and how residents should be involved in local government.”
A bike rider and long-time civilian-member of the council’s transport advisory group, she says she’ll stay involved, “always, whether it’s positive or negative I’m very happy to be involved with council, community groups and consultation. If you’re not you can’t complain.”
Mayor John Carey says the first proposal to split Vincent was defeated because of the loud voice of the community opposing it, with two rallies having big turnouts. He reckons if the second plan to merge with Perth had ever been tried at the polls it would’ve received a walloping too.
Nail in the Colin
A SPECIAL council meeting was due to run Thursday February 19 to put a formal end to Vincent’s merger process. Mayor John Carey says a motion will be put to council to formally state its position to remain as a stand-alone council rather than merging with Perth. He says reform will continue in his council, but it won’t involve shifting borders: It’ll keep plugging away to tighten up some historically sloppy governance processes and improve accountability.
by DAVID BELL