For my entire journalistic career I have watched Port Hedland suffer from the sidelines as a result of poor planning and government turmoil. It is all I have known of the town — that and the genuine pride and love so many long-term residents have for the place. First there were the flashy Royalties for Regions projects — expensive facilities such as the Wanangkura Stadium were built with little thought as to how to fund their upkeep long-term. Those ritzy Spoilbank and West End apartments spruiked by the former Liberal-National government which never had a hope in hell of getting up. The Spoilbank Marina, re-jigged and re-worked so many times, is finally under way. Whether it lives up to the hype, well, we keep our fingers crossed. When Karratha was declared a City in 2014, ex-Pilbara MLA Brendon Grylls said Hedland would receive the same honour by the end of that year. The Pilbara Cities vision, whereby Karratha and Hedland would each be home to 50,000 people by 2035, was always a dream. Barring a miracle, it will not happen. Then there was the mayor Camilo Blanco era — he defends his record fiercely and has every right to do so, but the behaviour of the council under his reign threw the Town Port Hedland into disrepute, and the town has suffered ever since. As Peter Carter said on Saturday night, if you can’t get along with your council, you may as well give up. And while all this has been going on, the North West’s other key towns have thrived. I know you hate to hear this, but Karratha, where I lived for five years, has taken Hedland’s mantle as the Pilbara’s main centre. The huge spend on infrastructure, services and town beautification has turned it into one of Australia’s best modern cities. Broome is undergoing the same transformation. Town Beach and Chinatown look immaculate now, and Cable Beach is next. The common denominator in Karratha and Broome’s success is local government. Karratha’s has been stable for a long time, and it shows. Broome has been in the same boat for the last four years and, unsurprisingly, the people like that, and on Saturday voted to maintain the status quo. This stability leads to competence and a common goal, and that enables local governments to pitch clear, well- thought-out plans to State and Federal governments and industry for funding. With Mr Carter re-elected and with a council under his wing which we are confident can work together, Port Hedland can now follow the path beaten by its neighbours. So, Port Hedland, it’s time to believe.