Message from the Mayor: 3 March 2023
Published on 03 March 2023
Hello, I'm John Connors, Mayor of Dungog Shire, bringing you this week's mayoral message.
Earlier in the week, we were very fortunate to receive advice that Council had received $9.73 million not just from the state government but from a fund was established by the federal and state government under the Betterment Program. It's a program designed to facilitate Council’s building back infrastructure better than it was. And it flows from the disaster claims that have been made by this Council and other Councils as a result of the rain events over the last 12 months or more.
Previously, funding only allowed you to build like for like, so you had to build back what was there previously. If it was a bridge made of timber, you could build the concrete but you couldn't make it any higher than the previous bridge. This program enables things to be built back better, and Council was fortunate to receive as I said, $9.73 million.
$3.7 million was allocated to replacing the suspension bridge at Gresford, a bridge that has a very, very low weight limit. And the only alternative to get across the river is a river crossing, a river crossing which gets washed away every time there is a significant rain event. And which then incurs costs for Council in having to re-establish that crossing each time, and that was the fundamental basis of the claim had been made. So that $3.7 million dollars will enable a single lane concrete bridge to be built adjacent to the existing suspension bridge and will give all weather access to those on the other side. And critically, it will provide access for emergency service vehicles in all weather. At the moment, they can only get there if they can get through the river. And as one would appreciate, it's in times when the river is flowing significantly, those emergency services could be required.
Also as part of the $9.73 million is money to carry out works in Hooke Street in Dungog between Lord Street and Dowling Street, the area that floods every time there's a significant rain event and lots of times when there's a somewhat insignificant rain event. These works will allow the pavement to be strengthened and to allow for additional drainage to hopefully facilitate the water moving through that area more quickly, thus causing a less damage upstream.
And lastly, the last part of the grant is to enhance 26 causeways throughout the shire, causeways where the approaches to the concrete causeways have to be reconstructed after each rain event. These funds will enable those to be hard surfaced so that they'll withstand the rain events and Council won't be required to spend money constantly replacing, renewing, fixing up the approaches after each event.
So that was very welcome news and we were grateful for the member for Upper Hunter Dave Layzell and the Minister for Regional Roads and Transport Sam Farraway both attending the site of the of the suspension bridge on Wednesday afternoon to make the announcement.
On a very different tone, the week has seen a reoccurrence of appalling behaviour by members of the community towards Council employees. Employees working on roadworks, employees doing traffic control works on roadworks are being abused by some members of the community. And this can’t, of course, be tolerated. The situation has become quite extreme in one instance, where the police had to be called and work on the project had to stop. It's quite unacceptable for members of the community to carry out any form of abuse to Council workers working on various Council jobs.
If members of the community have a grievance about the work that's being done or the way it's been done, then the proper way to express that grievance is to the Council, to the General Manager, or to me, but not to those who are carrying out the work.
We've also had instances where workers and traffic control personnel have had their life put at risk as a result of the way in which people drive through roadworks. There are always speed limits and signage that indicates those speed limits and it's an offence, of course, not to comply with those roadwork speed limits. Not only an offence, it's sheer stupidity, and you put the life of the road workers of the traffic control people at serious risk by stupid, careless driving. And again, I ask the community to respect those that are working and not put them risk just because you want to speed or you want to show how smart you are in a particular circumstance. It's not acceptable and I encourage members of the community not to do it. If they do, Council will have no hesitation in reporting them over to the police, and ask that appropriate action be taken.
On a more pleasant note, further discussions have taken place between Council and those proposing a caravan park in Abelard Street in Dungog. Those discussions have been quite fruitful and whilst there's nothing on site to suggest that anything is progressing in fact there has been a lot of work done behind the scenes to progress the plans, to progress the proposal and it's anticipated that a formal proposal will be put to Council in the not-too-distant future. The proponents will in fact be addressing the Council at its next meeting or next workshop in March, this month. So in about 10 days time, the Council will be given a further update as to what's happening. But one can be assured that the matter is in fact progressing despite the lack of physical evidence on the site.
The annual Gresford Show is on on the 10th and the 11th of March, next week, and the show has had a few hiccups in recent years with COVID and then last year with rain. So, it's normally an event that attracts significant support throughout the shire, and I'm sure this year's event will do justice to those of the past.
And finally, International Women's Day, I wish to acknowledge obviously the contribution of all women, not only to the shire and to all of us, but to society at large. As many of you know the shire is the heart of many, many talented women who have contributed significantly in various ways, in numerous ways over the years and that contribution is hopefully acknowledged throughout the year not just on International Women's Day. But to all those women, thank you for the contribution that you've made.
And with that, that's it for me for another week. So good luck, goodbye talk to you next week.