Carol Oliver: Daylesford, clean up your act

DISGUSTING: With so much trash and cigarette butts, if there was an untidy town award, I think we might win. Picture: Thanaporn Pinpart/Shutterstock
DISGUSTING: With so much trash and cigarette butts, if there was an untidy town award, I think we might win. Picture: Thanaporn Pinpart/Shutterstock

There are many signs of positive activity in Daylesford so I think I’ll start with some that lead to three cheers for the council.

Congratulations to the staff involved in cleaning out the drains and waterways in the Musk area. Fabulous bluestone exposed and water running free. Dirty work done thoroughly.

Then three cheers for the replacement planting on the pedestrian crossing in main street Daylesford. There has also been a slow changeover in several other areas with plants more sensitively selected and in keeping with the town.

As I rarely see business owners wielding a broom, it’s a relief to see clean pavement emerge if only for a minute. Sadly, blowing rubbish or leaves is, as most of us know, limited as it all blows back again.

And then there is the repair of the building on the corner diagonally opposite the post office. Looks fantastic. I’m sure there is much I have missed and I am sorry if that’s the case.

On the other hand… I have taken about 80 photographs of the appalling conditions of buildings in Vincent Street. I have submitted them twice to people in power and have received no visible or active response.

I assume most buildings are rented out and the responsibility lies with building owners. I don’t want to criticise the wrong people, but if there was an untidy town award, I think we might win.

The pillar out the front of the Daylesford shopping centre at Albert and Bridport streets has been open/uncovered for months. I reported missing bricks from a pillar once and that was fixed, but nothing else has been done. 

I don’t know who is responsible for that patch of land outside the shopping centre, but whoever it is doesn’t seem to care about how things look. Then there is the walkway and the side of the adjacent building, with crumbling steps and balustrade. 

Further up that walkway and on the left is the area behind the business sign. Disgusting. Then there’s the front fence of the bank building, and the area in which sits the ATM. Cigarette butts, dogs business and accumulated filth makes me feel like I did when I first visited parts of Thailand 30 years ago.

Look at the down pipes… rusted, broken, unpainted and crooked in that alcove and all along the street. Patchy uneven sidewalks that don’t butt up to buildings is ugly and sometimes dangerous (though the new seats are great ), and overflowing rubbish bins with coffee remains glued down the sides… the list goes on.

It’s not enough to say we/they can’t afford it. Rents are high, so responsibility should be high as well. I think there is the possibility that after a while owners must think that the degradation of their buildings is all part of the atmosphere.

Certainly we don’t want Daylesford to look like an historical toy town. We want it real, but we need it clean.

I think people don’t “see” easily. They might not notice the visual deterioration I can see. It is just home and once you’ve seen a hole or flaking paint a few times it can become just part of the furniture.

Regardless, visitors can often see and certainly feel if a place is rundown. Daylesford currently maintains its fortunes on the back of tourist dollars. It’s the very people who gain an income from our town who seem to be unwilling to refurbish and maintain the streetscape.

If I am wrong, I apologise. What’s to be done? One idea might be to consider a temporary rate reduction for high standard public private decorating/renovating in the main street. And maybe the council can provide avenues for the removal of multiple cars in frontyards.

This ongoing refusal to clean up Vincent Street is particularly infuriating, because most people in Daylesford maintain their domestic housing in ways that enhance the place for locals and for visitors.

Beautiful gardens and architecture, creative renovations and some great garden design. The community pulls its weight. Maybe building owners could do so as well?