Message from the Mayor: 22 September 2023

Published on 22 September 2023

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

Last week I spoke about the Clarence Town Bridge and urged members of the community to make contact with the Federal Member Dr. Gillespie's office to pursue funding for the bridge. Well, during the week, Dr. Gillespie returned my telephone call and advised discussions with Minister King about three weeks ago and that she had advised him that the original $8.8 million was secure, but that the Federal Government would not provide funding for the additional $4.86 million required to commence further work on the bridge.

We've been unable to get confirmation of this today, but on the assumption that what I was told in that telephone conversation is in fact correct, we are attempting to make arrangements for meetings with the State Minister Jenny Aitchison to pursue the necessary $4.86 million.

It's apparent that will have to come from the State Government, despite Minister King apparently suggesting that Council could fund it. Well, that is unfortunately not possible. That would be almost 50% of Council's annual own-source revenue. So it has to come from grant funds from one form of government and it appears that the only possible source now is the New South Wales Government. So anyway we'll keep pursuing it and keep informing you as information comes to hand.

During the week Council had its September Ordinary Meeting, and perhaps the most notable item on the business page was the Development Application to which consent was granted for significant works at the Settlers Arms Tavern in Dungog that will see a new building built adjacent to the existing building, providing some 18 rooms for accommodation and parking beneath the building and a revamp of the interior of the existing building which will provide conference facilities which is a new provision for the town of Dungog and will be most welcome.

The week also saw the New South Wales Government hand down its budget. Unfortunately, there wasn't much in the budget of benefit for Dungog Shire. Funding for the Fire and Rescue new fire station in Dungog was reaffirmed. That was funding that was, I think, originally announced two years or more ago and there's been a land swap with Council, and Fire and Rescue now have title to land on Common Road where they propose to build the new facility and they have drawn up plans which are available for that facility. So hopefully with the confirmation of the funding, that development will proceed in the very near future.

Also in the budget was an announcement, which was made in fact prior to the budget, of $700 million being made available for regional roads throughout New South Wales. It would appear, although Council has received no formal advice with respect to this issue, that Council might receive about $1.8 million which is an extension of a program that previously existed for heavy patching works. So $1.8 million doesn't go very far with road construction or heavy patching, but it's certainly a help and it will be used when it becomes available on the worst sections of regional roads throughout the Shire.

Those who travel around may have noticed very little activity from the pothole patching machines in the last couple of weeks. Regrettably, both machines have been out of action due to a problem with the emulsion that was supplied by the company that makes and supplies emulsion to not just Dungog Council but numerous councils throughout the state. The emulsion was contaminated or otherwise unsuitable. This has led to both machines having to be cleaned entirely and the storage tank having to be cleaned out. These are works that are being undertaken by the contractor, the contractor that supplies the emulsion and they're taking responsibility for the product. But unfortunately that's led to the machines being out of action and possibly being out of action during the coming week as well. In the meantime, alternative means are being used to carry out some works however product to carry out those works is in very very short supply. As I said the impacts on numerous councils and all of those councils have been seeking alternative products as well and that's resulting in a shortage of supply. However Council will continue to do what it can as quickly as it can.

I think before closing, I should make mention of the fires that are burning in the Shire, both at Monkerai and at the top of the Allyn River. Those fires have resulted in some road closures. The Allyn River Road is closed beyond Salisbury Gap Road and Salisbury Road is open only to local traffic from the intersection of Chichester Damn Road, and Salisbury Gap Road is of course closed.

On the other side of the Shire, Monkerai Road is closed until further notice with the fire there still being attempted to be controlled.

As a result of the firefighting efforts or in conjunction with them, the RFS have established a refueling base at the Dungog Showground for the helicopters that have been used in attempt to combat those fires. So hopefully, there may be a change in the weather that may offer some assistance but in any event, I urge everybody to offer any assistance to the RFS personnel and certainly look out for them as they travel throughout the Shire to tend these and other fires.

And with that until next week good luck and goodbye.




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