Are we still needed?

THE Alstonville bypass is nearly open, but there is concern the Plateau communities of Alstonville and Wollongbar will lose their voice.
President of the Alstonville and District Citizens and Ratepayers Association, David Robinson, and president of the Wollongbar Progress Association, Adam Easton, both have concerns about the future of the lobby groups now one of the biggest issues facing the community is all but resolved.
Both groups are holding meetings next week in which the members will discuss the possible closure of both associations.
Declining membership of both associations is the issue.
Mr Robinson said while it was important that communities had a “voice”, he asked the question: “If no one uses their voice, is the voice required?”
He cited some of the big issues the Alstonville group battled, including the proposed Third Village which didn’t go ahead, the staffing of the local police station, which was achieved, and the bypass.
Mr Robinson said the association may consider that it’s not needed, and that residents may prefer to lobby on single issues, as the Alstonville Bypass Action Group did successfully.
“In the end, we, as an organisation, need to know that we are needed and there are residents willing to replace us at each AGM, to bring in new ideas and energy,” he said.
“We are looking for Alstonville residents to come along and put their hand up for a position.
“Bring along an issue and work towards resolving that issue. Come with an idea for the town and be part of the development of that idea.
“The organisation needs new interests, otherwise there is little point in keeping the doors open for a few people out of a population of 5000.”
Mr Robinson said the internet has allowed lobby groups to form and communicate more easily, reducing the need for regular meetings.
But he said the association’s website, with a discussion board, receives little traffic.
He also said the C Ward committee gave residents access to councillors, reducing the need to be part of the association.
“All in all, Alstonville residents seem fairly happy, as far as local issues are concerned. This has meant our organisation hasn’t been needed lately,” he said.
Adam Easton, from the Wollongbar Progress Association, said the group’s declining membership also was a cause for concern.
“The current committee is under pressure from other commitments and is struggling to maintain all their family and social commitments as well as maintain a community association with such minimal support,” Mr Easton said.
The Wollongbar association also was involved with the bypass action group.
On top of that, he said the association organises garage sales, dances and other community events to “build social capital”.
The Alstonville ratepayers meet on May 24 at the Alstonville Plateau Bowls and Sports Club, starting at 7pm.
The Wollongbar Progress Association meets on May 25 at the Wollongbar hall, off Simpson Avenue, starting at 7.30pm.


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