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ACC no longer a dirty word: Yarwood

Monday, 7 January 2013
Author: Melissa Mack, Indaily

TWO years after donning the Lord Mayor's robes, Stephen Yarwood's electric enthusiasm shows no sign of wavering.

However, he says he has calmed his effervescent approach as the council moves to take more concrete action on its growing list of ambitious projects.

Yarwood has come a long way since his first press conference - held in early 2011 to announce the city council's support for the Adelaide Oval redevelopment - which was, at best, bumbling and left a lasting impression on the state's press gallery.

But elsewhere, Yarwood has been seen in a different light. His seemingly endless passion for the city and his work ethic have endeared him to many in the square mile, particularly young entrepreneurs and other fledgling business owners.

He has earned respect from the Property Council and others in the development industry who have traditionally been at odds with the council.

Under Yarwood, the council has been less risk-averse and conservative - if it makes some mistakes in the process, the Lord Mayor views that as a positive sign of boldness.

"The Adelaide City Council is really keen to make mistakes and I think that is important because historically this was an organisation that wasn't able to make mistakes," Yarwood told Indaily.

He said the community elected him because it wanted change.

"My election was a marker for the community's mood and expectations, and because they wanted a change of leadership," he said.

"I'm evolving in the job; I'm learning, and also, categorically at this stage, I'm not interested in state or federal politics. I'm not doing this to be popular; I'm not doing this for my own personal career.

"I did this because the alternatives to me were people that I did not want running this city and I care enough that I want to make a positive difference so I'm just giving it a go."

It was serendipitous that Yarwood stepped into his role about a year before the State Government leadership changed, with new Premier Jay Weatherill and deputy John Rau putting the city firmly at the top of the government's agenda.

"I'm proud that ACC is no longer a dirty word and people are talking about Adelaide," Yarwood said.

Under Yarwood, the council has committed $30 million to redevelop Rundle Mall, is beginning work on Victoria Square and, in conjunction with the State Government, has overhauled city planning regulations.

Some of the council's immediate wins have come in the form of programs such as Splash Adelaide, which has made it easier for street vendors to trade and increased outdoor dining.

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