18 April 2024

New council members share goals for Cook Shire growth and prosperity

| Lyndon Keane
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Cook Shire Mayor Robyn Holmes (centre), Deputy Mayor Marilyn Morris (third from left) and councillors Melinda Parker, Gavin Dear, Ross Logan, Sarah Martin and Justin Coventry took their seats in the council chamber after taking their declarations of office on 9 April. Photo: Supplied.

With all seven elected members now sworn in, the betterment and growth of the Cook Shire through a range of priorities and initiatives have been flagged by those in the council chamber.

After Mayor Robyn Holmes was sworn in on 2 April, returning councillors Marilyn Morris and Ross Logan took their declarations of office alongside newcomers Gavin Dear, Sarah Martin, Justin Coventry, and Melinda Parker on 9 April, prior to the first official meeting of the new council.

Councillor Morris was voted in as Deputy Mayor, and Cape York Weekly asked all seven elected members what their individual and collective goals between now and the end of the financial year, and over the next 12 months were.

READ ALSO Hospital, ag precinct still big-ticket priorities as new-look Cook Shire Council gets down to business

Mayor Holmes said she felt “very optimistic” about the start of the council’s four-year term.

“Your Councillors are all committed, passionate and eager to be brought up to speed on the things that matter most in our communities,” she said.

“All councillors will be involved in what is felt to be a high-priority issue for not only Cook Shire, but also the whole of Australia – the housing crisis.

“Councillors will continue to champion this issue by working with state and federal agencies to look at innovative solutions to boost new and affordable housing development in our region.”

Mayor Holmes has also committed to continue advocacy for big-ticket infrastructure projects, including the Cooktown hospital upgrade, and the development of the Lakeland agricultural precinct.

Deputy Mayor Morris said her personal goal for the coming year was to help deliver a dementia-friendly local government area.

“My personal goals for the next 12 months as a councillor are to advocate for a dementia-friendly shire, with focus on accessibility and inclusiveness in businesses and council-owned buildings throughout our communities,” she said.

“I would like to continue to advance higher education opportunities, through the Country Universities Centre Cape York, and traineeships through council and other local businesses.”

“All councillors will be involved in what is felt to be a high-priority issue for not only Cook Shire, but also the whole of Australia – the housing crisis.” – Cook Shire Council Mayor Robyn Holmes

Cr Martin said she was focused on familiarising herself with the role of the council, and connecting with the aspirations of business operators, residents and community groups.

“Within my first year, I’d like to progress the work previous councillors have started on facilities for the Alan Wilson Oval at Lakeland, and revisit the Passport to the Cape concept as both a tourism marketing and educational tool, and a revenue-raiser to help offset the costs of managing visitor pressures,” Cr Martin said.

Youth support and the housing crisis were identified as key priorities by Cr Coventry, who said he was also looking to connect directly with the community as a new councillor.

“My current priorities are to support youth engagement, and to address the housing shortage in Cook Shire,” he said.

“I believe the council needs to support our youth though support of community sporting groups and youth organisations.

“Another priority is the current lack of housing in Cook Shire.

“I believe there are opportunities to address this with a focus on providing pathways to help people privately invest … [and] the community will benefit greatly by having more workers living in privately owned or rented homes.”

READ ALSO New Cooktown Hospital appears to be a done deal

Cr Dear has expressed a strong commitment to reviewing local disaster management operations and how improvement can be made with local resourcing and communications during disaster events, while Cr Logan has identified a need to simplify the development process through a review of the council’s planning scheme.

Cr Parker will advocate for the needs of families through improved childcare options for working parents, as well as investigate options for protecting and preserving local history through community-led initiatives.

Cook Shire Council’s new elected members have outlined their individual and collective ambition for the 106,000 square kilometre local government area after being sworn in on 9 April. Photo: Supplied.

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