Message from the Mayor: 10 March 2023

Published on 10 March 2023

Hello, I'm John Connors, the mayor of the Dungog Shire, bringing you this week's mayoral message.  

Dungog Council, like all councils in NSW, is required to establish an audit committee. The audit committee is made up of independent members of the community, an independent chairperson and a member of council. The purpose of the audit committee is to overcome difficulties that have arisen not in Dungog, but in other councils throughout NSW over the past years where there's been corruption or inappropriate behaviour on behalf of councillors. We have to establish the committee by the 30 June and expressions of interests that are being sought from interested people, both for the chairperson and for the members of the committee. Details of the requirements and further details of the role are set out on Council’s website. So if you're interested, go to Council's website and have a look at the criteria and the purpose of the committee.  

There have been an extraordinary number of development applications in recent times and particularly development applications that can't be dealt with under delegated authority by the planners, which means they have to come to Council for their determination. This has resulted in the need for there to be an extraordinary council meeting at the end of the month to deal with, I think, seven development applications that are required to be determined by Council. That's in addition to, I think, there's six in the business paper for next Wednesday's Council meeting. And the extraordinary meeting is being held to expedite those determinations and to avoid them having to wait around until the April meeting of Council. So, we're doing all possible to get development applications out as quickly as possible whether they be by a delegated authority, or ultimately determined by Council.  

Today is the start of the Gresford Show, or last night I guess, with the Art Show and today, the judging and the horse events and then it continues tomorrow. So, the weather on this occasion looks as though it's going to be very kind and no rain hopefully and I look forward to Gresford being able to host a very successful event this year.  

The roadworks continue and the capital works continue. Looking at the capital works, the library in Dungog, the landscaping should be carried out or should be commenced in the coming week with the library due to open later in the month. The library as you know is currently closed to facilitate the transfer of the resources back from the Doug Walters Pavilion to the library building. So hopefully by the end of the month, the new premises will be up and operating but there'll be more about that closer to the date.  

The roadworks at Park Street in East Gresford continue and the works on Durham Road, it's hoped that they will go out to tender this week. That will then hopefully see both Park Street and Durham Road in East Gresford brought up to standard within a matter of months.  

The new amenities building at the village green in Clarence Town is almost complete and should be open later in the month, once the paving and the other ancillary works have been completed.  

In Clarence Town, the sealing of the carpark at the sportsground adjacent to the amenities facility should be sealed within the next week or so, which will bring that job to finality. 
And, of course, pothole patching and heavy patching throughout the shire continue on a weekly basis and heavy patching in the coming week is planned to take place on Glendonbrook Road, Gresford Road, Lennoxton Road and Webbers Creek Road, so look out for traffic control on those roads throughout the week. And normal patching of potholes is to be carried out in Gaggins Street, various streets in Paterson, various streets in Dungog, Allyn River Road, Main Creek Road, Monkerai Road and Gresford Road. Work is continuing on the landslip on Bingleburra Road and it's anticipated that that work will be finished before the end of March, if the weather permits and everything goes according to plan.  

Speaking of potholes, you may recall that Council received almost $250,000 just prior to Christmas for pothole patching. That money has been 50% spent, the project is 50% complete and some 15,000 potholes have been filled in that program. Council has also received, as I announced I think a couple of weeks ago, $1.36 million for heavy patching of roads throughout the shire. And that work is 25% complete and you will have seen as you drive around various sections of road that have been cut out and patched up that work will continue. But at the moment as I said it's about 25% complete.  

The work utilising the $25 million Special Purpose Grant is continuing in the works in Park Street, East Gresford and Durham Road, East Gresford and the works back near the intersection of Bingleburra Road and Allyn River Road are all part of that funding. There is a program of works that's been adopted by Council to utilise those funds throughout the shire, and as resources are available, those works will be carried out. They include, ultimately, works on Stroud Hill Road, and Duke and Queen Street in Clarence Town and other roads throughout the shire. It’s hoped that the whilst the program is a five-year program for the $25 million, it's Council's desire to carry out the program as quickly as possible, but that of course is subject to resources. Resources not only to build the roads, but to do the necessary design work prior to any work commencing and some of that work’s been outsourced, but even finding contractors to do the work is becoming extremely difficult and is not happening as quickly as some of us would like.  

The work on the bridges continues, as I think I've said previously, all timber bridges apart from the bridge at Pound’s Crossing, which is a slightly different category, have now either been replaced, are being currently replaced, or under contract for replacement, which is a major achievement. And I think since 2017, the term of the last Council and the current Council, there are 30 bridges throughout the shire that have been replaced, either fully funded by the state government or partially contributed to by Council. That's a very significant effort for a council this size. And, of course, Council’s grateful for the funding that has come from the state government over that period. I think in round numbers since 2017, the term of the last Council in this Council, there's been approximately $100 million that's come from the government and been spent on capital works throughout the shire, either roads, bridges, or other infrastructure. So we have indeed been very fortunate to be able to do those works. 

I know many of you will say “but the roads are still in poor condition”, and that's right. And that will probably always be the case. I mean, we've been playing catch up since 1995 when the roads were handed back to Council by the then Premier, Bob Carr, and we will continue to play catch up, because whilst we're spending the monies that were being given by grants, all of the works we’re now are carrying out will of course require replacement in due course, and how that will be funded, heaven knows, because I'm quite sure that government funding will become extremely difficult in the future with the tightening of state and federal budgets. So, I think the future is not as good as the past but hopefully we can get a lot of roadworks done before the funds dry up, utilising the funds that we've been allocated already.  

So with those thoughts, until next week, goodbye and good luck.

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