Councillor profiles - Alex Green Mayor Southern Midlands Council
The Southern Midlands economy has traditionally relied on mining, horticulture and stone fruit. Our sheep are famous for producing superfine wool. Emerging economies around whisky and gin distilling, and tourism based on the district’s rich history of bushrangers, convicts and colonial settlers have supplemented them in recent years.
Rich in living history
I live and work in Campania and while it’s a beautiful part of the world, it’s the people that make it special.
My interest in local issues began when the council began to sell off community assets. After the success of that initial campaign, I was approached by members of the community to stand for council and was elected in 2005 aged 31years. I was elected Deputy Mayor in 2015 and Mayor in the 2018 election.
Living and working in the local area has allowed me to build strong relationships with businesses and community groups throughout the region.
I have a strong interest in history and am excited to be involved in helping to grow the region’s heritage based tourism industry. We have a wealth of historic towns and stories to tell from convict road gangs to early European settlers and the bushrangers who terrorised the countryside, some of which I have written and published.
Clever ways to deliver
One of the key challenges for Council is engagement with the community which needs to be fluid and dynamic. The dominance of social media and technology in our society means that people expect immediacy and that means Council has to find ways to meet that expectation.
We face a similar infrastructure deficit to many councils, and we have to find ways to be clever about our service provision. This is particularly true around the major issue of waste management.
A council our size has minimal bargaining power alone.
Making old new again
Challenges make opportunities for example there is a building in High Street that was having a deleterious impact on the streetscape, dragging the rest of the street down. We applied for some funding and we got together a number of bespoke producers of wonderful products and produce, and now they showcase their work in that space.
The sad decline in some of our smaller communities has led to the withdrawal of some of our services such as the closure of the school at Levendale. The State Government was planning to sell the building but we negotiated to take it over and that school is now being used for residential camps for children at risk or who have difficult home lives. Set out in the countryside, its nice and peaceful, and removed from the harmful environment.
Over 40 of these camps are scheduled for this year. Council maintains the facility and external service providers organise and run the camps.
We’ve taken something that was abandoned and turned it into a facility that adds real value not just to Southern midlands but is available for children of other local government areas.
I feel very pleased with that initiative because ten years ago we probably would never have thought to see a service like that delivered in Southern Midlands.
The best part is helping people and its always disappointing personally when you are unable to find that solution people are looking for.
People come to their council for a range of things that are not Council’s core business for example health services. Provision of health services is a major concern for people. When someone is sent home from hospital with no follow up care because they live in the country; these are the sorts of areas that I’m seeking to intervene on behalf of the community. Its nothing to do with Southern Midlands Council but these are the issues the community wants its local leaders to take up.
Building on our heritage
Heritage is a big part of the story of Southern Midlands. We’ve led the restoration of Callington Mill, a working, Georgian windmill built in 1837. The project was complete in 2010 and is currently being transitioned to a private operator which is exciting. It will form part of a larger development with a whisky distillery as the centrepiece. I think it will be a big stimulus for local growth and a catalyst for future investment.
I would like to see the new aquatic centre promised to the community for decades, come to fruition. Several generations of kids have expected a new facility that will operate all year round. We have an outdoor one now that is on life support, currently only able to be used for a few months of the year. That will be a major capital project commitment for Council to oversee in years to come. I think getting that right is an important thing.