Hines wants return on investment

Cr Hines is asking what has been the return on Council’s funding for the EDU over the past five years.
Cr Hines is asking what has been the return on Council’s funding for the EDU over the past five years. ROB WRIGHT

A COUNCILLOR'S frustration about how Council is charting the city's economic future has turned to bitter disappointment.

Cr Kerry Hines thought she had posed some fairly simple and direct questions about the performance of the council's Economic Development Unit (EDU), but says the responses to them have left her annoyed and asking even more.

"I had previously asked at a council meeting if we had a long term economic development strategy or plan and was horrified to find out that we don't and haven't had one for years," Cr Hines wrote in a question of notice she lodged at the last council meeting.

She also asked what had been the return on Council's funding for the EDU over the past five years.

"I believe we have spent approximately $1m per year in this area over the past five or more years. What has been achieved?" she wrote.

"They are questions that a lot of people in the business and wider community have asked me, and so on behalf of all those people I was trying to establish what plan the EDU was working to, and what results it had achieved," Cr Hines said yesterday.

The Councillors questions and the answers to them are contained in the business papers for this Thursday's Council meeting, along with a commitment to provide a more detailed report in June.

While her questions were straightforward and direct the answers being tabled at Thursday night's meeting are not specific.

"My concern is the business and wider community's lack of faith in the leadership of the economic direction of our city," Cr Hines said.

"I look forward to the detailed response as does the business community.

"Although council has put aside $20,000 for a new economic development plan I believe we need to engage with the many business groups within the community to encourage their input into the economic future of our city."

Cr Hines said while the economic indicators for the city are strong, they are more of a reflection of what the private sector is doing and not as a result of any council strategy.

Council's Director of City Services, Ben Lawson, said the lack of exact detail in his department's response to the questions posed by Cr Hines was actually a reflection of how significant he considered them to be.

"The fact that we have provided an interim response reflects the importance of the issues and the fact that we want to give a full and detailed response," Mr Lawson said.

"I can assure you that response will be forthcoming at the first meeting in June."

But Cr Hines countered that she was disappointed that the answers to her questions weren't readily available.

"I know in my own buisness that you need to be working to a plan and there have got to be KPIs in place," she said.

"Where is the plan for the EDU?

"Where are the KPIs"?

  • What do you think? Are you happy about the council's economic development strategies? Email your thoughts to or vote in the poll on this page.

Topics:  coffs harbour city council economy

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