Chains criticised

RECOGNISED: Keith den Houting, left, Cr Lorraine Learmonth, current mayor, Cr Brian Gibson, Mrs Pat Jane, Max Fehring and Jenny Kelly at the recent at the recent revealing of Gannawarra Shire Council's mayoral chains.

RECOGNISED: Keith den Houting, left, Cr Lorraine Learmonth, current mayor, Cr Brian Gibson, Mrs Pat Jane, Max Fehring and Jenny Kelly at the recent at the recent revealing of Gannawarra Shire Council's mayoral chains.

GANNAWARRA Shire Council's decision to honour its past, present and future mayors has received criticism from a former municipal candidate.

Cohuna resident, Andrew Gibbs – who ran for one of the two Yarran Ward positions at the 2016 council elections – has described council's decision to purchase a set of mayoral chains as an "ego trip" in a letter to the editor.

Officially unveiled at council's last meeting of 2017, the piece recognises the contribution of the municipality's nine mayors since democratically-elected representatives first served in 1997 - Olly Jane OAM, Jenny Kelly, Don Harris, Lui Basile, Keith den Houting, Max Fehring, Neville Goulding and Lorraine Learmonth and current mayor, Cr Brian Gibson.

The chains - which also recognise the three municipalities that amalgamated to form Gannawarra Shire; the Borough of Kerang, Shire of Cohuna and Shire of Kerang – will also honour future mayors elected by their peers.

The unveiling of the chains – sourced from Melbourne company, George H. Lilley Regalia for less than $6500 – received praise from both the former mayors and family members of those who held the role previously.

However, Mr Gibbs believes the decision to purchase the item shows council is "out of touch" with the community.

"For five years running, Leitchville and Cohuna have been asking for money for their progress associations to invest in decent Christmas decorations to help encourage spending with our local retail stores, who are significant ratepayers," he wrote in the letter that appears on page four of today's publication.

"Every time we hear the same line, 'there's no money in the budget.'" 

Council factored in the purchase of the chains in its 2017/18 budget, with extensive research undertaken to ensure the piece met councillors' expectations and was within the budgeted figure.

"Due to the specialist nature of the work, there were limited suppliers available to provide quotes, however quotes were sourced both within the local regional area and further afield for consideration," Cr Gibson said. 

"In our current climate the use and function of the mayoral robes was increasingly becoming impractical, cumbersome and an expensive process to maintain. The decision to retire the mayoral robes and purchase mayoral chains was made by the current council. 

"Mayoral chains are a more contemporary practice and also provide a historical record to the past and the mayors that have served the municipality since the shire was amalgamated in 1995."

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