FAIR SHAKE: Councillor Cameron Gow was among those who voted for a standard approach to open spaces in the Southern Downs.
FAIR SHAKE: Councillor Cameron Gow was among those who voted for a standard approach to open spaces in the Southern Downs. Dane Lillingstone

Council levels the playing field in service provision

SOUTHERN Downs councillors are aiming to narrow the divide between Stanthorpe and Warwick by bringing service levels into line across the region.

Following discussion of the field maintenance for Stanthorpe Sporting Association, councillors yesterday approved criteria for a more "equitable” provision of mowing services in parks and along footpaths.

Mayor Tracy Dobie said in the past six months, the council had reviewed the open spaces it maintained.

"The review highlighted that over the years there has been a gradual creep in the mowing that is done along footpaths and in parks right around the region, over and above what the generally agreed locations and levels were,” Cr Dobie said.

"Now, council has a guideline that clearly defines the areas that will be mowed, based on four zonings in the Southern Downs Planning Scheme, and sets out the extent of the mowing that will be done.

"The new criteria establishes fair and equitable value-for-money service levels that are consistent for communities across the region.”

Under the new criteria, the council will provide footpath mowing to a width of 4m and only where the planning scheme defines the adjoining area as rural or rural residential, under environmental conservation or as a community facility.

Mowing will only occur in parks classed under hierarchy one and two, which in Stanthorpe includes the CBD and piazza, Sullivan and Sheahan Ovals and the kids' space at Kilpa Street Park.

Councillor for community, towns and villages Sheryl Windle welcomed the changes, which she said created a more level playing field.

"Council acknowledges the approach to mowing of footpath areas hasn't always been the same in all locations and communities,” Cr Windle said.

"The new criteria is a great step forward in bringing services into line as fair and equitable across the region.

"The changes mean there is no longer uncertainty about which footpaths get mowed and why some don't.

"It creates a consistent approach that can be applied across the board in a way that provides transparency, with the guidelines available for public scrutiny.”

With reviews already in progress by council staff, councillor Cameron Gow said it was crucial other services were equitable.

"As far as sporting fields are concerned, people around the region are watching,” Cr Gow said.

"Many staff will be aware of other imbalances, such as support to museums and historical societies and mobile libraries.

"The message is clear that as we carry a massive debt, we need to re-evaluate our service provision to be more efficient and equitable.”