Public art and council’s consultation with its community are two topics regularly igniting passions of the Bega Valley community.
This week, they combined forces.
Fairfax Media began looking into reports we’d received of a tender being announced for a memorial to the Lucas brothers.
Many in the area would know the story of all nine Lucas brothers from Brogo signing up and serving in World War 2.
Their living descendants are still rightly and fiercely proud of Dudley, Cecil, Jack, Basil, Bill, Ron, Rufus, Henry Jr and Lance.
We sincerely doubt anyone in the Valley would begrudge the decision to erect a memorial to servicemen in the district acknowledging the Lucas family story.
However, what is likely to create a stir is that expressions of interest have already been called for – and, we hear, responded to – before the council even makes the idea public.
Advertisements for “e-tenders” (requests for proposals, rather than tenders we’re told) were placed in the Bega, Merimbula and Eden papers beginning April 5, with a closing date of May 11.
It was brought to our attention that a question on notice was raised at council mid-2015 regarding the idea, but a full report is yet to return to any public arena such as council meetings or media releases.
Coincidentally, more than a week after booking in the classified ads, the council did put out a media release late Thursday spruiking the “Brothers in Arms” project – then on Friday morning withdrew it “to triple check details”.
We are grateful to the council for allowing us access to the “request for proposal” documents for the memorial project, which we can reveal has a proposed budget of $25,000.
It’s proposed to be funded privately and through grants, rather than ratepayers’ funds, but surely that also is best made clear to the community ahead of time.
The council’s brief invites artists to “recognise and respond to the unique story [of the Lucas brothers], while acknowledging the loss and contribution made by so many others”.
It is proposed to be installed by Armistice Day – November 11, 2016.
The council is likely on to a winner here with the “Brothers in Arms” memorial.
So why doesn’t it come out on the front foot and promote it as such?
Why are we again left to ask questions over the lack of community consultation?
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