23 Jul 2009

Australia's Randwick City Mayor visits Randwick, Gloucestershire

A busy week - all day Tuesday at the Council spending time with the Planning Department to learn more for the Scrutiny inquiry, a meeting of Greens with the Cabinet Member for the Environment, plus a good evening - a bit too short - in The Star putting together the new Allotments Association - more of that soon and then last night in The Vine Tree to meet the Randwick City Mayor - Bruce Notley-Smith.

Photos: John Hudson with Bruce Notley-Smith in The Vine Tree - first photo - the Randwick City tie, second presenting a photo of one of their beaches and lastly Bruce getting a photo taken earlier in the day after a tour around the District and Ebley Mill.

It was a meal with the Chief Exec David Hagg, his wife, the Chair of the Council Cllr John Hudson, Mayor Bruce, his partner Paul and two others from Australia. A good evening (and good food) with lots of talk about similarities and differences and the links between the two Randwicks....Randwick City in Oz even gave a donation to help set up our Village hall in 1949 - and indeed Bruce has been over a couple of times and the previous evening this week had met many local folk including the Randwick Wap Mayor Alan Tomlinson.

Randwick City Council is one of the largest councils in NSW. It has more than 120,000 residents - so larger than Stroud District - but only 15 councillors - three of which are Greens.

This year Randwick are celebrating 150 years of local government. Randwick was proclaimed a local government area on 22 February 1859. It was the first to be established in NSW after the City of Sydney and became a city in 1990. Before European settlement, there was an extensive Indigenous community living in this area. Visits to Botany Bay by Captain Cook, Captain Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet, and French explorer La Perouse, link Randwick to the earliest days of European exploration and settlement - a book is due out in October of the history. Interestingly Randwick, Glos also has a new history being written at the moment.

The first openly gay Liberal mayor, Bruce Notley-Smith has been a long-time councillor for the East Ward in Randwick. Back in 1985/6, I worked in Sydney for Community Aid Abroad, the Australian Oxfam, and at that time remember giving a talk to the local Randwick CAA group - I remember an audience of about 15 people in an old hall somewhere - many happy memories of those days.

Anyway I understand Notley-Smith has continued to focus on environmental sustainability, which saw the council take out the Keep Australia Beautiful sustainable cities award for NSW and participate in the Cities for Climate Protection. Although he courted controversy when he got rid of the prius in favour of a V8 Holden Caprice (see here). It was great to meet him and hear his enthusiasm for Randwick City - I'm not sure about encouraging air travel between the two but there are some great plans for links with Randwick Village School and one of the 22 (I think 22) schools in Randwick City.

Anyway strangely this evening I am not out to a meeting and have had the chance to catch up on some emails but I'm still a little behind so please bear with me if you are waiting for a response.

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