Bellingen takes national title

BELLINGEN Shire Council is the national winner of the 2011 Heart Foundation Healthy Community Award for councils in its category.

It is both the state and national winner in the category of councils with a population of 15,000 people or less, beating four other councils.

Bellingen Mayor Mark Troy was presented with $2000 and $5000 cash prizes for the state and national win and a commemorative trophy and a framed photograph of the Urunga boardwalk at the Local Government Association of NSW annual conference opening ceremony in Nowra on Sunday.

At today's council meeting, Cr Troy told his fellow councillors he had been surprised and delighted by the award and the money would be put to good use in promotion of healthy lifestyles.

Councillors voted to congratulate staff members for their initiative and contribution to the achievement.

The 19-year-old Heart Foundation Awards recognise local government initiatives that have contributed to improving heart health in Australian communities.

Bellingen's entry in the awards showcased three different initiatives.

The Bellingen Shire Development Control Plan introduces new policy directions aimed at improving the built environment, including its ability to promote incidental exercise and healthy lifestyle choices.

New developer contribution plans provide the opportunity to include integrated design of shared pedestrian and cycle parks to connect key destinations in shire townships.

Thirdly, the council has a multi-faceted Safe and Well program for all staff, which covers programs to encourage staff to take part in health and safety activities.

Heart disease is still the number one killer of Australian men and women.