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Maintaining heritage is the key to future, residents say

Bob Richardson believes Hall can progress without compromising its heritage.

''We have a slogan: Manage the progress - the world is going to change, there is nothing we can do about that - and maintain the heritage.''

He said some people were opposed to every new house going up in the village and resisted change, while a moderate group, which he belonged to, realised there was no way of avoiding change.

''You can't stand still, the world will run straight over the top of you,'' he said.

Opposed to the former NSW Government's privatisation agenda, Mr Richardson left Sydney in 2000 and moved to Hall with his wife Helen White, who comes from Canberra.

They discovered a progress association which punched well above its weight and have been immersed in community events ever since.

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He described himself as a feisty union-type who found it easy to become involved in a group with a progressive agenda.

He joined campaigns to save the Hall Primary School and form an alliance with Tharwa to oppose school closures in the villages, started a community emergency response group after the ACT 2003 firestorm and established a men's shed.

His previous occupations included printing, farming and training in occupational health and safety. He coordinates a newsletter, Rural Fringe, and helped form Hall Collectors, who collect farm machinery and restore military vehicles. Members include mechanics who have businesses in Hall and who work closely with the Australian War Memorial.

Mr Richardson said the Hall markets were a feature of the village.

''We have people come here to the monthly markets, which are becoming huge,'' he said.

''There must have been 5000 to 6000 people here on the [recent] weekend and everybody you talk to, they say, 'We just love coming out here','' Mr Richardson said.

He described the village as a bolt-hole for Canberra.

''Our problem is, we don't get much help with infrastructure, we do a lot of it ourselves.''

The upside was becoming organised and bonding among local people. Some of the older managers in Territory and Municipal Services were helping the locals to maintain the village.

''But there is a limit to it, because you need money. Tree planting is very big here, all through the drought we planted hundreds of trees and watered them,'' he said.

Local people and those in the wider Canberra community wanted Hall to retain its village status, for the benefit of everyone.