Sunday, March 26, 2023

Allora residents want more from their Council

Recent stories

A Connecting with Council meeting hosted by Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) in Allora last Wednesday provided an opportunity for residents to speak their minds about issues important to them.

Seven of the eight councillors, Mayor Vic Pennisi and a few SDRC officers were in attendance to speak about and listen to issues affecting the town.

Around 30 residents attended the session, with the mid-morning time making it difficult for many to get there.

Overall, there was acknowledgement by SDRC of the issues important to Allora residents and assurances by Council that matters will be looked into and addressed, although there was little in the way of concrete promises or pledges.

Mayor Pennisi said 4 per cent of the 2022-23 SDRC budget was spent on Allora.

Mayor Pennisi gave a reminder that himself and his fellow councillors are available for meetings for both at their offices and out around the Region, including out of office hours.

Those who would like to contact SDRC are encouraged to use the My SDRC app or call 1300 697 372.

Future of hall

For many, the future of the Allora Community Hall was the most important issue to discuss.

Allora has been left without a town hall for a year now, causing regular events to seek alternate venues and preventing the chance to attract new events to town.

A first report into the hall completed last year found the hall had fundamentally failed, which necessitated its indefinite closure.

A second, more detailed structural report has only just been received.

It found pylons in the structure’s roof have moved over the stage and the floor is not level and will require restumping and repatching.

Mayor Pennisi questioned the importance of the hall for the town.

“My understanding is that there’s been very little bookings in a long time,” he said.

To the audience’s disappointment, there is no timeline for the re-opening of the hall at this stage.

Once a cost for the repairs is calculated, it will need to be brought to SDRC as part of its budget process.

SDRC has said previously it is hopeful for state or federal funding to assist with the cost.

There was a sense among the audience that Council’s communication around the status of the hall has been lacklustre and Council’s conduct so far has been unacceptably slow.

The hall is used by a variety of organisations for important annual events and fundraisers, such as a ladies high tea, school trivia nights and Wattles’ awards presentation.

Museum move

The Allora Regional Sports Museum, represented at the meeting by Perry Cronin and Rod Kelly, has been working hard lately to expand the museum into the site currently occupied by the SDRC library.

The library would then be moved to the largely unused senior citizens building.

SDRC is the trustee for the old senior citizens building, however as part of the trust arrangement the building can legally only be used for purposes that support seniors.

SDRC has engaged a solicitor to present it with viable options which come with varying levels of cost and effectiveness.

The matter could potentially be taken to the Attorney General or the Supreme Court.

If possible to do so, there was general agreement between Council and those in attendance that moving the library to the senior citizens building is a good idea.

Town plan

A Council officer indicated SDRC is in the final stages of drafting its planning scheme, which should be open to public submissions in May, June or July.

Audience members mentioned there is very little detail regarding Allora in existing documents and as such will be interested to see what the planning scheme has to say about the potential for growth in Allora.

Once in place, the planning scheme will remain in place for a decade.

Tree maintenance

Councillors were well and truly made aware what a thorn in the side Bunya pine nuts can be, as well as the negative effect unmaintained trees can have.

One audience member went as far as to suggest the bunya pines should be cut down.

CEO Dave Burges said SDRC does not usually encourage the felling of healthy trees, but once Council is made aware of an issue they will do their best to fix it.

Disability access

The lack of availability of ramps and similar aids to enter Herbert Street businesses was voiced as a concern for some.

Council hoped that those with concerns would remain in contact so the best result can be achieved.

Allora Advertiser 8 March 2023

This article appeared in the Allora Advertiser, 8 March 2023.


Sign up to the Australian Rural & Regional News weekly newsletter

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

For all the news from the Allora Advertiser, go to