Residents assured of a “Fair Go” Clarification of the consultation process for Draft Community Heritage Study
To allay unnecessary concerns among community members, I wish to make an important clarification in relation to a statement provided by Dennis McManus, published under the heading “Good News Regarding Local Heritage” in the July 2023 Berrima Historical Society monthly newsletter.
The statement does not accurately represent the current status of the Draft Community Heritage Study nor the role of the ‘Heritage Officer’, and Council’s process of consultation with affected residents and the wider community.
I am advised by Council’s General Manager that Council’s Planner, referred to as the ‘Heritage Officer’ within the article, had a minimal role in the preparation of the community-based work, beyond assisting the community members in their work.
It would have been a conflict of interest under Council’s Code of Conduct for them to work with the heritage volunteers. The Council Officer merely assisted the Community Project Group with putting their work into a model-based format for their initial community-based consultation.
At the current stage of the consultation process, Council’s professional officers are not authorised to pre-judge outcomes. To do so would devalue the work required to assess both the hard work of the volunteers (of which Mr McManus is one) and the initial consultation.
The Berrima Historical Society President notes that the information published in the newsletter ‘is provided by Society and Local Planning Panel member Dennis McManus on the submission of their Wingecarribee Heritage Study 2021/23…’
Mr McManus is a citizen member of the WSC Local Planning Panel and as such is bound by Council’s Code of Conduct and is not authorised to issue statements or to be a spokesperson for Council.
The Draft Community Heritage Study is yet another legacy matter that I have inherited as Administrator of Wingecarribee Shire Council. Local heritage can be a very contentious and emotive matter however residents can be assured of a fair go for all.
The process will be as follows, and NOT as set out in the six steps outlined by Mr McManus’ statement:
Once Council’s professional officer reviews all submissions received during the community consultation period for the Draft Community Heritage Study, a report will be prepared for a Peer Review carried out by an independent heritage consultant. To give the community confidence in the Peer Review process, I have asked the General Manager to ensure that no Council Officer involved in the current consultations has any part in it.
A submission will then be made to the Local Planning Panel and ultimately Council.
It is only at this time that a formal, Council endorsed, Heritage Study would be presented for consultation.
While I appreciate the time invested by many volunteers, it needs to be made very clear to all that the Draft Community Heritage Study that is presently authorised for consultation has been prepared by heritage volunteers, some of whom have qualifications and interest in heritage.
For weekly updates and opportunities to participate in decision-making, Join Council’s Your Shire e-news community and follow us on socials.