Twenty years after he first sat on the Uralla Shire Council, and more than 50 years after his father was the shire’s mayor, Richard Croft is seeking to serve the community as a councillor again.
And if there is one burning issue that has driven his bid for Council, it’s that Uralla must remain independent and continue to fight against the threat of amalgamation.
Mr Croft was a vocal opponent of the recent state government and Armidale Dumaresq Shire Council challenges, and his campaign platform for Saturday’s election is based around preparing Uralla for the future.
“We need a functional council,” he said.
“We need a council where there is not too much dispute between councillors for a start.
“We need financial stability, that is very very important.
“And the council has to be efficient.”
Mr Croft said Uralla must continue to look at its sustainability.
“The government keeps talking about sustainability; well sustainability, financial stability and efficiency all go together,” he said.
“If you haven't got financial stability and efficiency, then you haven’t got sustainability.”
The threat to Council’s independence is likely to return during the next term of government and Mr Croft thinks councillors will need to be prepared.
“Council needs to be as determined as the people want us to be, and that's very determined,” he said.
“I think we came close to being amalgamated because some of the councillors were a bit wishy-washy.
“We had good leadership and the community got behind that leadership.
“But I thought it was a bit odd that some of the councillors … didn't realise how precarious things were.”
Mr Croft has a background in agriculture and business, and for him, supporting business development is key to Uralla moving forward.
“Council must facilitate growth by supporting business,” he said.
“If a bloke comes in the door and says I want to build a motel, [council should say] ‘ok pal, sit down with the councillors and tell us what you want to do’.”
He also believes Uralla needs to capitalise on its position on the highway between Sydney and Brisbane and must give people a reason to stay the night.
“If you have a nice place for people to stop, they will do it," he said.
“We’re talking about somewhere where people can stop and spend a day or two just relaxing."
Polling day is this Saturday, September 10 and Mr Croft says “people should vote for me because I will make sure that we keep this council.”
“And I will do that with ... financial stability, efficiency and community leadership.”
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