First Ipswich City Council meeting of 2020. Picture: Cordell Richardson
First Ipswich City Council meeting of 2020. Picture: Cordell Richardson

Should Ipswich councillors get back in the office?

OPINION

THE YEAR 2021 is off and running, and after a two-week break, so am I.

It feels like the news has shifted up a gear since I took time off from the end of January, when a good few people were still in holiday mode.

After getting back to work on Monday I fielded a few calls from readers wanting us to up the anti with Ipswich City Council in relation to a number of matters that are concerning residents at the moment.

One of the key issues that has been brought to my attention at the fact that without divisional officers, residents are finding it difficult to get in contact with their local councillor.

This view has been reiterated by MPs from the state and federal level who have been fielding inquiries and complaints directed at Ipswich City Council.

While it is normal for residents to approach state and federal members with council matters, it appears as though the number of cases being taken to at least some MPs has increased out of sheer frustration with the council process.

Here at the QT, one thing we are hearing regularly from some residents is that they are having trouble getting onto the right person at the council when they have an issue.

This isn't to cast a net over all our current councillors, but the people of Ipswich voted for them in the hope of seeing improvement in the way this city is run.

Without local divisional offices, it looks as though many residents are feeling left out.

On the face of it, there is a strong argument to increase local councillor engagement with the community through the reintroduction of councillor offices.

Previously we have been told the removal of offices was a cost-saving measure, but I believe serious thought needs to go into the value that these points of contact in the community could have.

It has been nearly 12 months since the new council was voted in. The honeymoon period is over and now it is time to see some real improvement in this area.

Expect the Queensland Times to keep you up to date on Ipswich City Council's plans for the year ahead.

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Here is this week's Friday Top Five Ipswich stories

 

1. Inland Rail misery

The Queensland Times has been following this story since about 2007, and we appear to be no closer to seeing an actual railway being built now than we were back then.

 

 

 

Peak Crossing residents Jim and Maureen Barrow, and others scattered along the proposed interstate rail route, have been living in a state of uncertainty for more than a decade as plans for the freight corridor chop and change.

If you had a dollar for all the meetings that have been held about the inland rail you'd be able to resume all the properties along the corridor from Calvert to Kagaru.

 

2. New hospital ward

 

 

 

This week we reported construction was underway on a new 26-bed ward at Ipswich Hospital.

The $25 million project will create 26 new beds and an improved outpatient area at the public facility, as well as refurbish levels six and seven of Tower Block.

CPM Advisory and Project Management has been appointed by West Moreton Health as the superintendent and superintendent's representative to oversee the administration of the

construction contract by Brisbane firm Paynters.

CPM director James Long was also behind the Limestone 88 redevelopment of the former technical college, which is now home to the Pumpyard Bar and Brewery and Dovetails Restaurant.

 

3. Residents air pothole problems

Rates, roads and rubbish is the famous line that comes out whenever people talk about what they want from the local council.

This week, we looked at what is just a few of our least favourite local roads.

Ipswich City Council says it is monitoring complaints via the call centre for areas of concern when it comes to potholes, while also continuing its regular inspection and maintenance program.

This is perhaps another area where easier access to individual local councillors could improve the communication between the community and Ipswich City Council.

Local councillors should be the voice for their communities if the message isn't getting through from the call centres.

 

4. Jets bid joins forces with city tilt

 

Nick Livermore from Brisbane Bombers and Steve Johnson from Ipswich Jets have joined forces to bid for the NRL’s 17th licence. Picture: Richard Walker
Nick Livermore from Brisbane Bombers and Steve Johnson from Ipswich Jets have joined forces to bid for the NRL’s 17th licence. Picture: Richard Walker

 

In some of the most interesting news on the quest for Ipswich to get its own NRL team, we recently reported on the West Brisbane Jets' bid.

A merger between Ipswich Jets and Brisbane Bombers now seems the most logical way forward as we hope to secure the 17th NRL licence for the 2023 season.

Nothing good comes easy, and Ipswich's brains trust has been battling away for more than a decade on this project now.

There is no doubt in my mind that Ipswich is deserving of a shot at the NRL, not just for the fact that it is a city in the midst of massive growth, but also because it is one of the spiritual homes of rugby league.

Legends of the game have been born and raised here, and no doubt future legends will come, especially if they have an easier pathway to the elite competition.

 

5. Marijuana facility location remains top secret

It was the exciting news we couldn't quite divulge all the details on.

A new medicinal marijuana growing facility is set to sprout in a nondescript area in the Scenic Rim region officially, but realistically not very far from Ipswich.

Hydroganics was granted major project status by the Federal Government at the end of 2019 for a multistage $333 million facility to be built in south east Queensland.

 

The site of Hydroganics' $333 million medical cannabis facility in the Scenic Rim Region.
The site of Hydroganics' $333 million medical cannabis facility in the Scenic Rim Region.

 

The company is latching on to what is set to become a huge industry, worth an estimated $1.2 billion over the next decade.