We’re continuing our series of interviews with current Lithgow councillors about their vision for Lithgow, their background and why they stood for the role. Next up is Ray Thompson.
Councillor Ray Thompson’s career has run the gamut of all the work that Lithgow has to offer.
From being a toolmaker, to union official, to running restaurants and hotels, Ray has done it all.
Cr Thompson lives out at Marrangaroo with his partner, Ann, and has three adult children.
He’s been on council for eight years, and stood for a position after Ann spent nine years as a councillor.
Cr Thompson said he became interested in running for council when the idea to open a low-security jail in Lithgow was floated.
“I didn’t want people on day-release roaming around the town, and a lot of the police at the time that I had reasonably good friendships with… [they] advised me it wasn’t good for the town,” Cr Thompson said.
Working across a number of different industries over the years, Cr Thompson said he has no trouble with striking up a conversation or listening to all sides of a debate.
“I voted for contract cleaners and I think that was a mistake now… I can be beaten quite easily in a debate and not hold grudges.”
Lithgow is in need of an Economic Development Officer with some “real flair and go” to save it from potential amalgamation, Cr Thompson said.
“I think if you’ve got enough infrastructure and facilities to lure people to live here… you need things like an aquatic centre or a dog track, you need things people can enjoy.
“Families need somewhere in this day and age where they can have a bit of recreation.”
Cr Thompson said council needs to invest in things like getting Zig Zag Railway running again to capture an increasing amount of weekend visitors who are visiting the central west.
“Once upon a time once you at least got to Mount Victoria you’d see no traffic whatsoever, so now people are going that little bit further.”
For residential development, Cr Thompson said he believed suburbs like Bowenfels were almost built out, and it was time to start looking towards Wallerawang and Marrangaroo.
“Marrangaroo, Rydal, those sorts of places… A bit like Bathurst with Eglinton, Raglan and Kelso, they’re starting to become little cities of their own just branching out at Bathurst.
“I don’t think two minutes in a car from here to Wallerawang or here to the Rydal turnoff is anything much.
“Once you get out towards that area… I can see eventually, maybe even in my lifetime, that Lithgow and Meadow Flat will be all hooked up.”