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Council wins coveted AR Bluett Award

Bland Shire Council has won the most prestigious prize in New South Wales Local Government – the AR Bluett Memorial Award.

The coveted award was first awarded in 1945 and prior to Wednesday’s announcement at the NSW Local Government Annual Conference had not previously been won by Bland Shire Council.

Breaking a 72 year drought, Council was announced as winner of the rural Councils section.

The Bluett Award recognises the most progressive rural council in the state, based on all Council operations and services.

“The Trustees were very impressed with the progress Bland Shire Council has been able to make in the last few years,” AR Bluett Trust chairman, Graeme Fleming said.

"The Trustees were impressed with Council’s improved financial position and efforts to achieve $1 million in savings as well as the impressive list of projects undertaken in the last few years.”

A decade of careful Council planning culminated in the completion of two major projects in 2016-2017 - the final stage of a stormwater harvesting program which will drought proof Council's investment in parks, gardens and sporting facilities for at least 10 years and the completion  of the $2.4 million West Wyalong Stadium refurbishment.

This project followed major upgrades to Ron Crowe Oval, the Park Street Recreation Ground, West Wyalong Tennis Courts and the construction of a skate park as part of Council's 10 year plan to build new and enhanced sporting infrastructure.

Following significant investment in the years prior, Council adopted a vastly reduced capital works program in 2016-2017 with an emphasis on asset maintenance and renewal.  This tact also helped Council meet or progress closer to meeting the benchmarks set by the State Government under its Fit for the Future Framework by achieving savings of $1 million.

A commitment to innovation and building strong community partnerships helped Council deliver  the first silo mural in New South Wales in Weethalle. Achieved within a Council budget of $10,000, the initiative has attracted unprecedented visitor interest as well as being viewed by well over one million people online.

The award was accepted by Bland Shire Mayor Tony Lord and General Manager, Ray Smith and will display proudly in Council’s Shire Street offices.

Meanwhile, the Bluett Award for City and Regional Councils was presented to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.