Message from the Mayor: 15 December 2023

Published on 15 December 2023

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

This week the General Manager and I met with the Minister for Regional Roads and Infrastructure, Jenny Aitchison. The main purposes of the meeting were funding for the Clarence Town Bridge and chasing up the Betterment Funding which includes the replacement of the Suspension Bridge in Gresford, upgrades to the culverts in Hook Street in Dungog, and work on the numerous river crossings throughout the shire.

The good news out of that meeting is that the Betterment Funding appears to be on track and we should get confirmation of that $9.7 million in the very near future. The not-so-good news is Clarence Town  Bridge, where the Federal Government, whilst confirming their funding, are insisting that the State Government match their funding on an equal basis. This is a change to the previous arrangements between the State and Federal Government, where previously it was an 80/20 split. This is causing some issues at the moment and that bridge regrettably is caught up in that dispute as a result of the change of federal government and the change of policy. But in any event, the meeting was positive and we're ever hopeful that we'll be able to find a way around the problems that exist at the moment.

The Master Plan for the redevelopment of the area in Hooke Street, which includes the site of the former bus depot is now out on public exhibition. And I encourage people to look at the plan and put in your submissions to Council. The ultimate plan will be informed by your comments, as well as the efforts of the consultants and the views of Council. So go to the website or go to the Council, have a look at the plan, and put in your comments as soon as you can.

During the week I had the pleasure of unveiling an artwork in the Dungog Library, an artwork which had been donated by Reconciliation Dungog. I encourage people to visit the Library and have a look at the artwork, which is located near the door and you get a great view of it as you're exiting the library. So I encourage you to do that and we're grateful to Reconciliation Dungog for their generous gift and to the Artist who was present.  It’s obviously a considerable effort she's put into creating the work.

The Christmas/New Year trading hours of Council and its various offices and outdoor staff are up on my website and on Facebook. Apart from Friday the 15th December, when all the facilities will be closed from midday, the other major changes are

  • The Administration Centre and the Library will close on the 22nd of December at 12 noon and then reopen on the 2nd of January.
  • The Works Depot will close on the 21st of December at 4.30pm and will reopen on the 2nd January.
  • The Waste Management Facility will close Christmas Day and New Year's Day and otherwise be operating its normal operation hours.
  • The Visitor Information Centre in Dungog will be closed from noon on the 22nd December and reopen on the 27th December, and then be closed on New Year's Day.

The after-hours contact details are on Council's website and if there's a need, please call the after hours number for any issues relating to roads, bridges or other infrastructure.

The roadworks and bridge works continue across the shire and we will continue into next week and it's hoped that during next week, we'll see the intersection of Duke St and Grey St in Clarence Town have its asphalt coat applied and those works well then be finished. Durham Rd in Gresford unfortunately will not be finished before Christmas, and it will be subject to traffic management controls over the Christmas period. That's regrettable and we apologise for any inconvenience but unfortunately, there were delays as a result of unforeseen drainage works and the like.

The works on Glen Martins Rd have completed and on Gresford Rd, south of Fishers Hill Rd, the sealing and the guardrail on those works should be finalised this coming week. The works on Bennett Park parking area are now finished and the parking area is open for use by the public.

This year, apart from those works I've just spoken about, has seen in excess of $5 million spent on the rehabilitation of roads throughout the shire and almost $6 million on replacement of bridges. The bridge works and the roadworks of course, will continue into next year. With works planned to take up virtually the whole of the year, works that spread right throughout the shire. So there'll be significant activity continuing again next year just as it has this year. The Bridgeworks will conclude in about April of 2024 and that will see the 23 timber bridges throughout the Shire replaced.

The year has seen the extensions to the Library open and the Gresford Sporting Complex opening to the public. The Administration Centre has seen the Planners deal with 250-odd Development Applications throughout the year, which is a significant volume of work for the limited resources that we have in that area. And those Development Applications totaled $56 million, so there was a significant amount of development being carried out throughout the shire throughout the year that’s coming to an end.

Christmas Day sees the annual Christmas lunch that's held or sponsored by the Dungog Shire Community Centre. It’s held at the Dungog Primary School in Dungog each year. It's free, but if you would like to go, it's necessary for you to register in advance for catering purposes. To register you can do it on Eventbrite, and access that through the Dungog Shire Community Centre’s Facebook page. Or alternatively, you can phone the Centre on 4992 1133 between 9am - 1pm weekdays.

So if you find yourself on your own on Christmas Day, and you'd like to join others for lunch between 11.30am and 1.30pm at the Primary School in Dungog, then please make contact with the Community Centre and let them know you'd like to come.

So with those comments, I wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And I hope it's everything you're expecting, and we look forward to another fruitful year in 2024.

Goodbye and good luck.

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