Message from the Mayor: 26 May 2023

Published on 26 May 2023

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

Quite regularly, questions that are asked for Council and me as to what's happening with the replacement of the Brig’O Johnston Bridge at Clarence Town. And the answer is I wish I could tell you. The delay at the moment is being occasioned by the federal government. Since the change of government in May of last year, we've been waiting for confirmation of the funding and the additional $5m that's required to enable the project to proceed. Whilst the funds are managed through Transport for NSW, a large part of the funds are in fact provided by the federal government and we await their confirmation. As I'm sure you're aware, in the budget and before the budget, comments or statements were made by the Federal Parliament that they were setting up a review into capital works programs. They indicated that some projects in this neighbourhood would be excluded. They include the extension of the M1 and the Singleton and Muswellbrook bypasses. Brig’O Johnston Bridge was not mentioned at that time, and that's not surprising because the funding is much less than those other major projects. The attempts via the federal member Dr. Gillespie and directly to the office of the Minister have to date not produced any answer. Arrangements have been made for the General Manager and for me to meet with the Federal Minister for Infrastructure in the regions in June when the General Manager and I will be in Canberra. So hopefully, we'll be in a position to make some positive announcement in the near future, I can indicate that all the planning processes have taken place, the design is done and there is an issue with some very small areas on which there was an Aboriginal land claim on the approaches to the bridge, but Council is in discussions with the Worimi Aboriginal Land Council with respect to those areas, and it's hopeful that we'll shortly be resolved. 

The Gresford murals are taking shape and they're a great credit to the Gresford mural committee and I'm sure if you've travelled through East Gresford in recent times, you will have seen the mural on the side of the butcher shop and another on the end of the sporting complex. The project is continuing and I encourage you to take the drive through East Gresford and have a look at this great project.  

The capital works program is continuing with the carparks at both Bennett Park in Dungog and the sporting complex in Clarence Town being continued to be worked on. The Clarence Town project is almost finished with the sealing about to take place and then the line-marking. The Bennett Park project is a little further behind but work is progressing on that as quickly as possible. Other capital works projects are the top end of Hooke Street towards Common Road, which has I think now been stabilised and is very close to getting its further seal. Park Street in East Gresford, the work there continues and will continue until the project is completed. The proposed works in Durham Road at East Gresford went out to tender and it's hoped that there'll be an appropriate tender awarded in the very near future for those roadworks. The approach to Dungog from Clarence Town, work should start on that stretch of badly potholed road next week, so that will be a significant improvement once that stretch of road is fixed up and the approach to town will then become far more appealing than it is at the moment.  

During the last week, the General Manager and I attended a suicide prevention course in Dungog. Two sessions were run over two days for members of the community. And it was well attended by a cross section of the community particularly from Dungog and Clarence Town, and then there are to be follow up sessions with another organisation who's meeting with the General Manager and I in the next 10 days. So whilst there is significant talk in the community about juvenile suicide, I think the community you can rest assured that the issue is being addressed by saying it's been addressed I don't attempt to suggest that's the panacea to the problem. But it is being addressed and hopefully the more people are aware and aware of possible means of preventing suicide then the better the community will be protected.  

On a brighter note, it's forecast that the first reasonably significant snow of the season on Barrington Tops, will fall Friday night or over the weekend. So I'm sure those that race to the mountains for the first snowfall will be ready in their vehicles on Saturday morning to see what's occurred on Friday night. So I think with that, have a happy and hopefully not too cold week. I'll talk to you again next week. Goodbye and good luck. 

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