Darcy Lound: straight talking new Labor leader on Campbelltown Council

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It’s a little unfortunate that the first meeting of the new Campbelltown Council will take place online tonight.

That’s because it will be very different from the last meeting of the old council.

 A new mayor, George Greiss, will be chairing the meeting, for starters, and there will be six new councillors taking part in their very first meeting.

But it is on the Labor side where – if the meeting was held in person – you’d see some major changes.

There are now five Labor councillors and a new leader, Darcy Lound, following the resignations from the party of the former mayor George Bricevic and Cr Margaret Chivers.

They resigned soon after the January 11 mayoral election, which saw Liberal candidate George Greiss defeat Cr Brticevic for the city’s top job.

But that’s all water under the bridge for Cr Lound, a straight talker who is promising his Labor team will continue to work hard for all of Campbelltown.

Cr Lound, once labelled the mayor of Minto because of his long term connections to that suburb, has told the South West Voice in Macarthur he’s very keen to get stuck in and work for Campbelltown.

“It’s a great honour to be elected the new Labor caucus leader for council,’’ Cr Lound says.

“I’m definitely looking forward to this challenge.’’

He accepts that it’s a new ball game this time around, with just five Labor councillors, compared to eight before the December 4 election.

However, all five Labor councillors were on the previous council, so the team is not lacking for experience.

It includes veteran Meg Oates, who’s been on council since 1987, while Karen Hunt, Rey Manoto and Masood Chowdhury were elected in 2016.

Darcy Lound, who was first elected to council in 2012, is banking on the experience of his team to hold them in good stead.

“I’ve got a really good, experienced team behind me, and that’s going to help us be a force on council,’’ he says.

“We will definitely be trying to make a big contribution, to work in collaboration with all the other councillors on what’s good for Campbelltown and to support what’s good for Campbelltown – that’s the main thing.

“We will maintain our core Labor values to make sure everybody in Campbelltown is given a fair go,’’ says Cr Lound.

“Labor values is about being a voice for the people and driving Campbelltown forward to give everybody an opportunity to enjoy their city.’’

The new Labor leader also has transparency and accountability in his sights for the new term of council.

“We will be working for what’s good for Campbelltown, but we will also be making sure there’s a lot more transparency in this term. I feel this was lacking a little in the last term,’’ he says.

 “We want to keep things accountable, to ensure the best is getting delivered for Campbelltown.’’

He would like to see a boost in infrastructure spending in Campbelltown, especially on roads.

But Cr Lound believes the time has come to stop talking about some issues and just deal with them.

Darcy Lound during Australia Day in 2016, and (top) yesterday in front of the council building in Queen Street.

He mentions the poor state of the city’s main street, and the expensive and time consuming policy called Re-imagine Campbelltown.

Cr Lound says he is sympathetic to the idea of re-forming a main street committee to drive meaningful change on Queen Street after years of ineffective initiatives.

“The most important thing for Queen Street right at this moment is we have to move it along,’’ says Cr Lound.

“Council does need to show a bit more leadership on this to help bring life back to the main street, and I support a main street committee kind of coming back or something like that to drive a revival plan, liaise with council officers, that sort of thing.’’

On Re-imagine Campbelltown, the new Labor leader also wants the focus to switch from talking about it to delivery.

“It cost a lot of money to get to the stage where it is now, which is a template or a guide put together by councillors and directors, with a lot of consultancy work around it as well.

“We’ve spent enough ratepayers money on developing the Re-imagine Campbelltown policy, now I want to see it delivered.

“We did a lot of the developers’ work, I suppose you could say we went on the front foot, but it has come at a substantial cost.’’

But Cr Lound says he wants to see something else to be done right now by council and that’s get out there and start mowing nature strips across town.

As anyone who gets around Campbelltown would know, council has dropped the ball on maintenance of that kind in the past couple of years.

“We want to see our city maintained for our residents and ratepayers, I think there’s a little bit of work to do in that area at the moment.’’

It’s going to be an interesting ride on Campbelltown Council – starting tonight, which will be livestreamed from 6.30pm.

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