WEDNESDAY night was the night Councillor Alex Christian really found his feet in the chamber.
Cr Christian was the standout performer at last September’s Bathurst Regional Council elections, running a brilliant grassroots campaign to become the only ungrouped candidate to win a spot on council.
That the serving police officer did it from a starting position of being a virtual unknown made the achievement more remarkable.
Since then, however, he has received mixed reports on his performance as a councillor. Some have found him too brash and confident, and he has sometimes struggled to make a serious point without descending into cliches and soundbites.
But on Wednesday night Cr Christian found his own voice and impressed the public – and, hopefully, his colleagues – with his compelling support of plans to finally build a roundabout at the intersection of Mitre, Suttor and Lambert streets.
Cr Christian had made the intersection one of his key policy platforms during last September’s election campaign and he has never wavered from that position.
On Wednesday he urged his colleagues to support a recommendation to call for tenders for the project, but also cleared up some of the areas of contention.
First, he explained that the high price tag for the roundabout – $1.7 million so far and likely more – should not be seen as a reason to reject it, because most of that money would fund services upgrades beneath the road, upgrades that would be needed whether a roundabout went ahead or not.
The road will need to be dug up at some stage. Much better to knock over two jobs at once when that happens.
He rebuffed suggestions that a lack of blackspot funding meant the intersection was not a danger by explaining that reporting guidelines had changed and that driver confusion was the reason there were not more serious crashes in the area.
He rejected concerns about roundabouts speeding up traffic by explaining they make intersections more efficient and he outlined why he believed refuge islands on all four approaches to the roundabout would be safer than pedestrian crossings.
It was perhaps a little disappointing that he again finished with his “ditherers, not deliverers” soundbite, but by then his case had been made. Cr Christian is not everyone’s cup of tea, but Wednesday’s performance was certainly one to remember.