Take a walk down Bridge Street, Uralla, and you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know Kevin Ward.
The Uralla Shire Council councillor resigned from his position this week, facing issues with his health.
“I’ve been there 14 years and it’s been a ride,” he said.
“I’ve learned a few things and seen a bit of water go under the bridge.
“It’s a very kind and caring community Uralla, people take care of their neighbours and that’s struck me over the years – everyone is interested in the welfare of the community and there’s no shortage of people interested in trying to improve the town.”
There will have to be a serious discussion as to where our council will go in the next five to ten years.Kevin Ward
Mr Ward’s resignation triggered a byelection that will see residents in Ward A head back to the polls to find a replacement within the next three months.
Mayor for a year and a councillor for 13, Mr Ward has been heavily involved in the town’s sporting community.
But, he is concerned about the future of small councils like Uralla.
“I think there needs to be a rethink on how they’re funded because small councils don’t have the scale and capacity to gear up for financial challenges,” he said.
“I think there might have been a change in attitude from the Office of Local Government and I’m not entirely optimistic about the future of small councils – it needs to be renamed ‘the Office of Regional Government’.
“There will have to be a serious discussion as to where our council will go in the next five to ten years.”
Uralla Shire Council narrowly escaped a forced merger under the state government’s Fit for the Future initiative, and residents now face a potential 54 per cent special rate variation to keep the council viable.
Mr Ward encourages anyone who is passionate to raise their hand for the job.
“Put your name in there and talk to people, get a good grounding for what makes the community the place it is,” he said.
“We won’t change the world in a little council like Uralla but what we can do is advance the community in everyone’s favour.
“It’s not about pitting people or projects against each other but it’s about moving in one direction and taking people with you.”