It is not every day an eight-year-old gets a one-on-one with the Mayor, but when young Warwick resident Ella Winfield received a surprise visit from Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie, she was all smiles.

Ella caught the attention of the Council after penning a hand-written letter to “Mayor Dobie” in June. Opting for blue stationery adorned with stars and rainbows for her official Council correspondence, Ella thoughtfully outlined a proposal for a “special park with mini roads, road signs, crossings and traffic lights”. “I think this will be very good for Warwick children to learn road rules at an early age riding their bikes or scooters at this park,” Ella wrote. “I also think it will be lots of fun and will help children in the future when they learn to drive a car.”

Ella proposed Warwick’s Australiana Park for the new project because “it has lots of space”. The Mayor took Ella’s idea to Council’s General Meeting in June and Council is now considering the feasibility of developing road safety parks in not only Warwick but in towns across the Southern Downs. In a response to Ella, Cr Dobie wrote “Councillors resolved that Council would investigate the creation of ‘Learn to Ride a Bicycle Safely’ areas across the region, where children can learn to ride a bike or scooter. The next step is that Council staff will investigate where these parks might be constructed… how they will be constructed and how much they will cost. After this investigation, a report will be sent to Councillors, and then consideration will be given to allocating funding to construct the ‘Learn to Ride a Bicycle Safely’ areas.”

Following her letter, earlier this month the Mayor surprised Ella with a visit at Australiana Park to discuss Ella’s ideas for the project. “Ella had put forward a wonderful suggestion. Young people are brimming with ideas and it’s important they have a voice on the issues that matter to them,” said Cr Dobie. “If Council is able to go ahead with the project, Ella can say ‘that was my idea’, and Warwick might just have a budding young Councillor or Mayor on its hands!”

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