On October 24, 2023, I attended my first local council meeting at The Hills Shire Council with a simple goal: to support my wife and engage with the community regarding concerns about the council’s plans for The Old Pony Club Site at Fred Caterson Reserve. What transpired was a disheartening revelation of a disconnect between the council and its constituents, particularly in the face of a crucial community issue.

The Issue:
The Hills Shire Council’s collaboration with Eastwood Rugby Club to transform the Old Pony Club site into an Elite Rugby Union Precinct, exclusively for the club’s use, has raised red flags. The lack of community consultation, ecological impact, and the likely exclusivity of the proposed development have prompted a 16,000-strong petition from Friends of Fred Caterson Reserve.

Community Concerns:

  1. Minimal consultation on the Elite Rugby Union Precinct.
  2. Ecological impact on a unique native habitat.
  3. Demand for more open and honest consultation and a different outcome.

Read the full story at Friends of Fred Caterson Reserve.

Council Meeting:
A motion by Councillor Mila Kasby(Greens) for a Public Meeting to address community concerns was voted down, dismissing community concerns, branding them as a “misinformation campaign.”

Watch the council meeting here.

Call to Action:
As a community member deeply connected to the area, I believe our community should have a voice and at least be listened to.

The majority of our councillors voted against our community having a public meeting to discuss this issue despite there being 200 people in the council gallery, and a 16,000 signed e-petition against the development.

I make no comment about the current way business is done in The Hills Shire Council as these are our elected officials, we put them there.

Next Steps:
The upcoming NSW Local Council Elections in September 2024 offer a chance for change. If we desire a council that genuinely represents our needs and aspirations, it’s time to consider independent leadership.

Why Independents?
Drawing inspiration from successful independent leaders like Clover Moore, Alex Greenwich MP, David Pocock, and Zali Steggall, we can envision a council that prioritises community needs and at the very least listens to our concerns, we should at least have a voice.

Your Role:

  1. Stay Informed: Regularly visit Friends of Fred Caterson Reserve and The Hills Shire Council Meeting Minutes page for updates on how our local councillors perform representing our interests.  Pay particular attention to how council supports The Mayoral Minutes.
  2. Spread Awareness: Share this information with friends, family, and neighbours to strengthen our collective voice.
  3. Support Independents: Consider supporting independent candidates in the upcoming local council elections who prioritise community interests.

Envisioning a Better Future:
Imagine a council that considers alternatives, like the New York Style Central Park concept at Moore Park Golf Course, supported by the State Labor Government. Why can’t The Hills Shire Council consider a similar concept at The Old Pony Club site?

There’s an opportunity for a green community space accessible to everyone, not just elite rugby players. If community sporting fields are necessary, let them be for the community, not owned by an Elite Rugby Club. If council persuasion is possible, consider creating a native reserve akin to the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden.  It would provide all the new future residents of The Showground Metro Precinct a truly unique native reserve that would be an icon of Sydney.

Initiating Change:
The path to change lies in the next NSW Local Council Elections. With 4 Independent councillors across the wards, we can influence the direction of our local council positively.

Do you want change to occur? Do you want a local council and mayor that genuinely represent your interests? The power to shape our community’s future is in our hands. Let’s unite for change and work towards a council that truly reflects the wishes of the people. The journey begins with us.

If you are interested in a change you can contact me via my ALLANSICARD.COM