Lock future on the agenda

Cameron and Melanie Glover, Anne Siviour, and Sally Zacher were among those interested who attended the forum.
Cameron and Melanie Glover, Anne Siviour, and Sally Zacher were among those interested who attended the forum.

The future of Lock was discussed at a public meeting at the school last month, with about 60 locals discussing ways of managing declining population and loss of businesses in the community.

Lock local and Elliston district mayor Malcolm Hancock said recent departures from the town including the closure of the local supermarket had prompted discussions about the way forward for the town.

He said the meeting was a positive one overall with locals showing a strong interest in helping initiatives to boost town morale.

"The bottom line is that the town is talking," he said.

Mr Hancock said he believed there was a real opportunity in Lock to run a successful business, citing the success of the recently reopened Lock Hotel.

"We're in the middle of everywhere," he said.

"It's just a matter of getting the right people in the right place with the right passion."

He said the Elliston District Council had committed $13,000 towards engaging town planner Ben Birdseye to work on a community master plan for the town to increase tourism and capitalise on the benefits of the new T-Ports grain storage facility.

"The elected members were really one-minded to try to give Lock a bit of a boost," he said.

Ideas already proposed for the master plan include walking trails and a streetscape program.

Lock Area School principal Tony Tree said the school was mainly a "platform" to organise a discussion about the wider community because it was able to get the word out through communication channels with parents.

He said the meeting included a "very general" discussion around how the school was working to provide quality education with fewer students.

Mr Tree said the emphasis was on tailoring education to the individuals with initiatives including open access pathways and school-based apprenticeships.

"We're more student directed," he said.

Mr Tree said the school was also collaborating with the Cleve Area School.

"We're sharing teachers with Cleve... it provides kids with subject choices they wouldn't have otherwise."

He said the ongoing viability of the school was connected to the wider issue of population numbers across the community.

Mr Hancock said concerns about the population in Lock were mostly related to the loss of younger families, while there were still retirees happy to move to town.

"There's hardly an empty house in Lock... it's just not the influx of young people."

He said it was not the first time Lock had faced concerns about reduced population but the town had "bounced back" before and could again.