Council comes to decision on new Marlborough signs
Livingstone Shire Council has decided to go ahead with a large town entry sign for Marlborough during another meeting that went for nearly two hours.
The small town 106km north of Rockhampton sits just off the Bruce Highway and is one of the only tiny towns north towards Mackay, and the signs are aimed at getting people to stop there.
They will be funded with part of a $140,000 Works for Queensland Grant, with $40,000 allocated towards welcome signage and $100,000 for placemaking in the town.
But $56,000 already spent on the sheet metal and design would have gone to waste if the council voted to scrap the entry signs.
After failing to reach a conclusion on the Marlborough town entry signs in a previous special meeting on May 4, the councillors held another meeting on Tuesday, May 11.
A $38,000 proposal to have a bull statue next to the sign was scrapped and a $6400 “You’re Wanted” sign was also canned, leaving just the white letters and a pole listing the services, businesses and facilities of Marlborough.
Three recommendations were considered by the council:
- a) Build the white “Marlborough” sign with a smaller sign with an arrow and “1km” written in
- b) Include information signs on the northern and southern entries that detail the town’s facilities
- c) Redirect unused funds to bench seating, solar lighting, and a mural on a toilet block
The first recommendation
Councillor Glenda Mather asked why recommendation a) was the same as was voted down in the previous meeting.
Mayor Andy Ireland said there were now separate recommendations because some councillors may have been comfortable with some elements of the proposal but not others.
“In splitting them now, gives the opportunity to address each of the individual recommendations from last week’s... to analyse those down further and vote on them individually,” Cr Ireland said.
The white “Marlborough” sign will only be shown from the north side, whereas the information signs will be visible from both directions.
Cr Mather said the assumption that most people who wanted to stop were heading towards Yeppoon was “wrong”, and said most visitors were coming from the south.
“I don’t think we’ve done our homework on this,” she said.
She said the council had not explored the possibility of putting the money and resources into an alternative design, using the money already spent.
“I don’t want to lose the money, and I certainly don’t want to lose it back to [the State Government], but we haven’t explored the possibility of having something of this nature, with the money that we’ve already spent,” Cr Mather said.
“Personally, I find the Marlborough lettering, and if you’re looking at a totem pole, it’s not going to work.
“I think it’s hideous, to be quite honest, that’s my opinion.”
Cr Mather said drivers wouldn’t be able to see the content on the information sign while travelling at totem speed.
Councillor Rhodes Watson said if the council was not paying for the bull statue then it would have $6500 to spend on the second sign.
Urban strategist Russell Claus replied saying there would be the capacity for another sign if that money was there.
Councillor Nigel Hutton spoke against the signs, but brought up the case of Miriam Vale and how it had times of good and bad.
“Gladstone Regional Council, in looking at that community, saw in some ways a similar problem to ours as to how to get people to turn off the highway,” Cr Hutton said.
“Their solution was to identify a market for that community and for them, they identified families.
“They invested some $4 million into Alf Larson Park and the outcome is that every time that people from our part of the world, or people from further north, as they’re travelling along, it’s a destination they stop along the way.”
He said there was some merit in the option “C” to invest excess money into the town but didn’t support the signs.
Cr Friend told the meeting the issue she had was the $56,000 that could be wasted and the only reason she was moving the proposal was so that was not taken from the ratepayers, and her stance had not changed since the previous meeting.
Councillor Pat Eastwood said it was difficult to endorse something where the council could lose money and face, and supported the sign going ahead.
“Lessons have to be learnt from this. It’s been a bit of a dog’s breakfast, but we need to make good out of it,” he said.
“We need to make good out of it, and the only way to do that is to go ahead, on this route, and make the best of a bad apple.”
Deputy mayor Adam Belot spoke for the motion and said whether or not someone liked the proposed signage, it would still be distinctive.
“We don’t have $4 million like... Miriam Vale did. We’ve got $140,000,” Cr Belot said.
“Is it going to achieve everything we could possibly hope for the community of Marlborough? No.”
“But it’s a start.”
Recommendation “A” was passed 4-3 with councillors Ireland, Mather and Hutton voting against.
The second recommendation
Councillors then discussed installing the two information signs on both the southern and northern approaches to Marlborough, with a maximum cost of $6400 per sign.
Cr Belot moved to prioritise funds for shade at the park over the signage, with the rest of the funds to go towards the signs.
But this motion was lost with councillors Ireland, Mather, Hutton, and Rhodes Watson voting against.
Cr Belot later reiterated that whether or not people liked the look of the sign, it would be an investment for Marlborough anyway and the town would have better signage than any other town in the shire.
Cr Mather said this process had gone “off the rails” because they didn’t have a price for the shade structures or signs after 10 months.
“This whole debate has been so disappointing to me, personally,” Cr Mather said.
“I’ve never seen such a scramble of ideas being thrown in and mixed and thrown out.
“This should be the simplest thing, if people would just get themselves up to Marlborough and talk to the people.”
Cr Watson said it was “upsetting” that these ideas were being thrown around with no idea about how much they would cost.
“You wouldn’t do it any other way, so why are we doing this now?” he said.
“It’s actually pissing me off, to tell you the truth,” Cr Watson said before getting a language warning from Cr Ireland.
Councillors Eastwood and Hutton both supported the motion and suggested providing some information about the town about 20km outside of Marlborough to prompt drivers to make a choice before reaching town.
Cr Eastwood later said it was really important the sign was endorsed because it was important that people knew the town was there.
Resolution “B” to build the information signs was passed 5-2 with councillors Watson and Mather voting against.
The third recommendation
The proposal to build the park shades was originally in the final recommendation, but was removed because it was already voted down earlier in the meeting.
Cr Hutton said the overall proposal was a “step in the right direction” and would help draw people to the town.
Cr Mather said any unexpended funds should be spent based on the suggestions from the community.
She also expressed her concern of the community getting their hopes up if there was a chance there was not any money left over.
Resolution “C” also passed 5-2 with councillors Watson and Mather voting against.