Media Releases


Implications of Easing COVID-19 Restrictions

15 May 2020

While COVID-19 restrictions are progressively being eased under the WA Government’s COVID-19 roadmap it is important to realize that there are still a significant number of restrictions in place for Shire facilities.

“There are a number of steps we must go through in order to comply with the State Government requirements before reopening facilities” said John Nicholas, Shire President.

Sport and recreation facilities are allowed to re-open subject to:

  • Compliance with the conditions outlined in the COVID Safety Guidelines for Sport and Recreation venues/facilities
  • Completion of a COVID Safety Plan
  • Implementation of the necessary safety requirements
  • Display of a COVID Safety Plan Certificate in a prominent location visible to patrons

The purpose of the COVID Safety Plan is to help ensure that facilities actively mitigate the risks of COVID-19 in line with the best available health advice.   The requirements for the safe operation of sport and recreation premises are:

  • maintain a strict limit of a minimum of 4 square metres per person
  • ensure a maximum of 20 people per venue (subject to specific guidance on multipurpose venues)
  • maintain hygiene and frequent cleaning
  • maintain attendance records for the purposes of contact tracing
  • close communal showers and change rooms - toilets may remain open
  • only non-contact training and non-contact sport
  • manage entry and exit points to ensure social distancing
  • minimise shared equipment and disinfect equipment between use
  • only open if supervised/staff available to conduct regular cleaning and enforce distancing

For our community facilities this means that the 24 hour gym and leisure centre will remain closed due to the fact that the gym does not allow for compliance with the “minimal shared equipment” and “non-contact sport” requirements. 

We hope that future easing of restrictions will allow for the gym and leisure centre to reopen soon.  For now these facilities will remain closed.

As a ‘recreation’ facility, the Library is permitted to reopen next week subject to the development of a Library COVID Safety Plan. It is intended that the library will reopen on Tuesday 19 May at 10am.  This will be in accordance with all relevant mandates and restrictions including:

  • Recording contact details of all customers (attendance records)
  • Only allowing 20 people at a time (excluding staff) to access the library
  • Maintaining (and enforcing) existing 1.5m social distancing
  • Continued quarantine of items (24 hours) on return before reissue

The Library opening hours will be 10am to 5pm on Monday to Friday.  The Thursday evening and Saturday morning opening periods will not resume at this point in time.

It is a requirement for any business or facility to maintain attendance records of patrons when reopening. This will assist Public Health with contact tracing in the event of a positive COVID-19 case in the facility.  Staff in the library and any other Shire facility which reopens will request customer names and contact details to meet this requirement. Your details will not be used for any purposes other than contact tracing.

We will assess if the Visitor Centre and public halls can reopen next week with the required COVID Safety Plans and if so, the timeline for the reopening of those facilities will be determined.

For more information contact Shire CEO Tim Clynch on 0428-611-376


Key Outcomes from Special Meeting of Council held 6 April 2020 - COVID-19 Community Response Plan

7 April 2020

On Monday night 6 April 2020 the Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes Council held a special meeting to acknowledge the economic and social impacts that the COVID19 virus is having on the local community.

Shire President, Cr John Nicholas stated “the purpose of the meeting was to identify measures where we can reduce financial burden our residents, while still continuing to stimulate the local economy”.

At the meeting, a Community Response Plan - including a 2020-21 budget framework – was adopted.  Key measures and outcomes of the Plan included:

  • 0% rate increase for the new financial year.
  • 0% increase on fees and charges for the 2020-2021 financial year.
  • Flexible rate payment plans for the 2020-21 financial year
  • Removal of administration fees for payment plans entered into up until 31 December 2020
  • Reduction in penalty interest charges for late payment of 2020-21 rates from 11% to 5.5% subject to a suitable payment plan being agreed
  • Removal of administration fees for the 4 rate instalment option
  • 50% reduction in interest charges for the 4 rate instalment option – 5.5% to 2.75%
  • Waiver of all penalty interest for late payment of current rates from 1 April to 30 June 2020

“We will also refrain from actively pursuing unpaid rates that are not on the instalment option or a payment plan until 31 December 2020.  This does not mean that these debts will be written off, but it does mean that people will have more time, and I hope less stress, around making their payments” said Cr Nicholas.

In seeking ways to actively support the local business community Councillors decided to:

  • Refund the 2019-20 alfresco dining fees AND food premises registration/surveillance fees from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020
  • Waive the 2020-21 alfresco dining fees AND food premises registration/surveillance fees
  • Waive the Visitor Centre administration fee for cancelled bookings
  • Discount Visitor Centre membership by 50% for the 2020-21 financial year
  • Waive fees for extension of planning approvals and building permits to 30 June 2021
  • Refund unused fees/charges for sporting clubs where activities cannot proceed

“These measures are not going to solve every problem we face as a community, however they are a starting point to help us move forward, knowing that even once the immediate health care issue abates we will face a longer economic and community recovery period” continued Cr Nicholas.

Other key outcomes of the meeting included:

Development of a Hardship Policy aimed to enable fair, equitable, consistent and dignified support to ratepayers suffering hardship while treating all members of the community with respect and understanding in these difficult and potentially upsetting times.

  • Extending Leisure Centre membership periods for the same period of time the facility is closed
  • Refunding 50% of temporary caravan park licence fees – when linked to events – where those events were cancelled
  • Shire grant funded community events to have access to their grant funding for expenditure incurred even if the event was cancelled

Cr Barbara Johnson, Deputy Shire President stated “it is encouraging to see that state government agencies are reviewing changes to regulatory tender thresholds to allow local governments to progress appropriate and identified capital projects swiftly.  This is an important part of local economic stimulus.

We have also considered, and endorsed changes to relevant Council Policy that will allow the CEO to assess applications for holiday accommodation to be utilised for semi-permanent residential accommodation.  These types of adjustments and changes give local accommodation providers a greater degree of flexibility in how to use their facilities.

The estimated cost of these initiatives is approximately $322,000 with commensurate savings in operational expenditure to be identified in Council’s 2020-21 budget.  At the same time Council is investigating the possibility of bringing forward capital projects that drive economic stimulus, job creation and community benefit with the funding of such projects to be determined in its 2020-21 budget.

We are consistently looking for ways in which to ease the burden COVID19 has placed on our community”.

 


Uncertainty for Bridgetown-Greenbushes as State proposes incentives for Collie jobs

4 February 2020

The Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes is aware of ongoing discussions and associated media coverage indicating the Western Australia Government intends to commercially support measures to incentivise employment opportunities from Talison Lithium’s Greenbushes mine expansion for residents of the neighbouring Shire of Collie, ahead of local opportunities for residents of Bridgetown-Greenbushes despite the mining operation being on the doorstep of the Greenbushes townsite.

Of the 500 additional, full-time equivalent employment opportunities the expansion of operations at the Greenbushes mine is forecast to create, the Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes anticipated approximately 350 of these positions would provide residential, community-based employment. As such, these jobs represent a significant development opportunity through the provision of a much-needed boost to the local population as well as all of the associated flow-through benefits from corresponding economic activity, which had been planned for over the past 12 - 18 months.

However, the Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes has significant concerns around a proposed strategy by the State Government to influence Talison Lithium and incentivise Collie residents to capitalise on these employment opportunities via a Government offer to commercially underwrite a commuter bus service for Collie residents to-and-from the Greenbushes mine.

Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes President John Nicholas said the Council would continue to engage with relevant Cabinet Ministers to seek support for its strategic initiatives and ambitious development plans as well as to seek clarity on the Government’s position in regard to preferential treatment of Collie residents over Bridgetown-Greenbushes locals for jobs at the lithium mine that bears the town of Greenbushes name.   

“I share the concerns raised by our local Nationals Member for Warren-Blackwood Terry Redman in a statement last week in response to questions from local residents around what appears to be a politically motivated move to prioritise jobs for Collie, despite more than $20 million in grants already being made available for future employment opportunities in that town as part of its transition away from dependency on coal mining and associated industries,” Mr Nicholas said.  

Collie has also been the focus of other Government support including the Collie Futures Fund, designed to drive economic diversity and create jobs in the region on the back of the announced retirement of the coal-fired Muja Power Station’s two C units from October 2022. While an important initiative to ensure the Shire of Collie continues to be a sustainable population centre, the Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes has its own regional development challenges.

“Despite many people picturing our Shire as a leafy green grove in the State’s South-West, food producers in the region have been heavily impacted by the prevailing dry and hot conditions faced by many primary producers around Australia. This has been recognised by the Federal Government, which has provided funding to the Shire via the Drought Communities Programme to help deliver much needed improvements to local infrastructure and amenities to boost regional tourism,” Mr Nicholas said.

“Despite the Commonwealth’s recognition of these issues, the State Government remains non-committal in backing the Shire’s proactive Regional Growth Strategy designed to drive town population, generate economic growth and provide new employment opportunities, maximising the stimulus from Greenbushes mine expansion.”

The strategy includes projects such as the development of a light industrial area near the Greenbushes lithium mine to provide secure employment in peripheral industries as well as training opportunities for locals in skills that have both national and international applications decades into the future.

“It would be a severe blow to the only town in the South-West to be granted Historic Town Status by the National Trust, if the State Government follows-through on its plan to support Collie locals over those more logically placed to fill these newly created jobs in Bridgetown-Greenbushes, and in doing so annul the anticipated opportunity for the Shire to enjoy a better, brighter future for its existing and future residents,” he said.


Drought Funding Announced for Bridgetown-Greenbushes

4 February 2020

On 28 January 2020, the  Shire received a call from Rick Wilson to advise that the Australian Government announced that it would provide funding under the Drought Communities Program (DCP) to a further 52 Councils experiencing hardship due
to drought.

The Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes is one of the eligible councils who will be provided up to $1 million.

This funding aligns in a timely fashion with Council’s Growth Strategy which is aimed at supporting regional economic development via significant projects including the Blackwood River Foreshore, Bridgetown Youth Precinct and Bridgetown Town Hall Revitalization projects.  These projects are all at, or near, ‘project ready’ stage.  Shire staff will liaise with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science to ensure this funding opportunity is maximised.

Importantly, this investment by the Federal Government in our community provides an ideal opportunity for Council to continue to lobby the State Government and leverage state investment in our communities to align with the Talison mine expansion.  In particular the development of a light industrial area in Greenbushes, upgrades to the Greenbushes Sportsground Precinct and upgrades to parking and pedestrian access in the Greenbushes shopping precinct are all projects identified in the Growth Strategy that improve liveability for residents to support the preference for a residential work force to support the mine expansion.

John Nicholas
Shire President


40km/hr Speed Limit – Hampton Street

“Today I attended a launch by The Hon. Michelle Roberts Minister for Police and Road Safety to announce the reduction of speed through Bridgetown and three other towns along South West Highway. The 40km/hr trial will commence at the end of January and run through to May 2020.

“I believe this is a great beginning to improve the road safety for all residents in Bridgetown and must be seen as the catalyst to having the speed limit reduced to 40km/hr on a permanent basis. Community members and the Shire have been working with respective agencies to have the reduction introduced for many years without success, but and now with the support of the Member for Collie, Mick Murray, and the Minister for Police and Road Safety, Michelle Roberts, a trial will be implemented between January and May 2020. During the trial a representative group will meet to assess the benefits of the trial with the clear aim of having it permanently introduced.

“If you have any comments on this initiative please send them to the Shire office so they may be collected as part of the trial analysis.”

 

John Nicholas JP

Shire President

21 January 2020