COMMENT

Letter | Why criticise the hard work of those behind the Grotto?

FEATURE: Oberon Council's Christmas Grotto featured local pine trees, Christmas decorations and free photos with Santa.
FEATURE: Oberon Council's Christmas Grotto featured local pine trees, Christmas decorations and free photos with Santa.

FIRSTLY, let me state that I am writing this letter of my own volition and its content may not necessarily reflect the views of Oberon Council.

I was disturbed to receive an email last week purportedly written and signed by Oberon Shire Residents and Ratepayers Association president Mr Draheim. This email was purportedly written on behalf of the association members expressing disappointment at the standard of the Christmas Grotto Event held before Christmas 2019.

In part, the email stated: "I am rather disappointed about how poorly this (the event) was executed and hearing some of the reasonings and excuses did not impress me at all."

The email also referred to the lack of skillset by the community services committee members and volunteers to stage such an event.

"Making things and events happen requires a skillset of an event manager, seems the committee fell well short of this skill set. What can council put in place for next Christmas to improve on obvious short comings?" the email said.

Throughout the email, Mr Draheim writes in the first person using the words "I" and "me". I wonder whether the content of the email was endorsed by a meeting of the association or is it Mr Draheim's personal opinion? I have read the association's Terms of Reference and, in my view, several of the aims have been breached already by the content and tone of Mr Draheim's email.

The Christmas Grotto was a community services committee initiative. A working party was formed from within that committee to work on the project. This was a small group of three community service staff who worked outside of their normal working hours, and a group of hardworking community volunteers including the Oberon Men's Shed, who delivered an event requested in part by the very people who now see fit to denigrate their effort.

Council allocated a budget of $10,000 from the Town Improvement Fund to support the project, which was delivered $700 over budget. This $700 will be funded from council's project budget. To clarify for Mr Draheim, within the budget was a $500 in-kind contribution to cover the wages of the works depot staff who, within their normal working hours, assisted with things the working party could not accomplish, such as the erection of the decorations in the vicinity of the Grotto. A full reconciliation of the event and budget is contained in the community services department report to be presented at the February council meeting.

I find the comments made within the association correspondence are disrespectful to those who worked hard for the benefit of the community and would like to publicly reiterate to these volunteers and staff members that council has received nothing but positive comments about the event. I am certain that the community very much appreciate your effort.

A very positive debrief of the event took place identifying what worked and what did not in the first year. There was discussion on how the event can be bigger and better. Mr Draheim's email was tabled as part of that debrief. If any community member would like a copy of the email in question, it is now a public document and a copy can be provided.

Kathy Sajowitz