THE crowning of Wangaratta as Victoria’s Tidy Town has been welcomed as a spirit-lifter for the city which saw its council sacked by the Victoran Government last month.
Margaret Pullen, a long-time campaigner for Wangaratta’s environment who chairs its community pride committee, was thrilled to accept the award after months of poor publicity generated by the embattled council.
“This is just wonderful for the community of Wangaratta and the rural city,” Mrs Pullen said.
“From the response I’ve had today people are thrilled because it’s something positive that’s happened; it’s great news, it’s lifted the spirits of people.”
Mrs Pullen admitted she was worried the poor reputation of the council may have influenced judges.
“I was concerned about it and a little apprehensive, but obviously it didn’t have any bearing,” she said.
Administrator Peter Stephenson, who has replaced the elected councillors, did not attend the Tidy Town announcement which was made on Saturday at Wycheproof with Mrs Pullen accepting the award.
“I congratulate the council staff and former councillors for their insight and actions in regard to sustainability,” Mr Stephenson said.
“Council has played its part, by making its operations more sustainable and is striving for a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2016.
“A raft of energy and water-saving measures have been implemented, which include: retro-fitting a number of council buildings with solar panels, the installation of rain water tanks, and planting drought-tolerant gardens,”
Mrs Pullen said the award came after three decades of competing.
“Tidy Towns has been going since 1982 and Wangaratta has never received the Tidy Towns award, so it’s absolutely wonderful,” Mrs Pullen said.
“The past three years we’ve been a finalist and prior to that in 2001 and 2002 we were what they call a Rural Proud finalist.”
Wangaratta now competes against towns from across Australia for the national title and host the Victorian Tidy Town prize night next year.