Mayoral Update

Mobile Office
I was joined by C Ward’s Cr Kate Murphy at my mobile office at Paterson last week. Several people braved the wet weather and managed to find my RV at Tucker Park (who would have thought there would have been another RV parked there?). Various subjects were raised, including seeking the special rates variation, suggestions and comments relating to the impending upgrade to Tucker Park and the Maitland Rd works and some drainage issues. I was advised that a Saturday morning may be a better time to conduct my mobile office in Paterson. I will incorporate that into my September schedule, which I’ll announce in next week’s update.

Today (Monday) I’ll be at Clarence Town School of Arts and then outside of Bandon Grove School of Arts, and next Monday I’ll be at Gresford School of Arts from 9am to midday and outside Vacy School of Arts from 1pm to 3pm. Please come along and share your issues, thoughts and ideas.

Meeting with Education Department Director
General Manager, Coralie Nichols, and I met with Director, Educational Leader Hunter Network, John Millburn; the Principal of Dungog High School, Janene McIntosh and the Principal of Dungog Public School, Kylie Pennell. We spoke about ways Council can engage with the students, the ways the schools can better become involved in the Dungog Community, and how we can build up the sense of place and pride in Dungog Shire in these school-aged citizens.

John challenged me to find ways to engage youth and this reminded me that I’ve dropped the ball on the youth engagement forum that I talked about earlier this year. I met Tim Norris later that week to discuss progress on this idea. Tim has had regular meetings with several of his peers who are interested in being involved in this. It has come to a bit of a standstill lately, due to their other priorities, but we promised each other to push this along, with willing support from Kylie and Janene.

The GM and I also attended a NAIDOC week assembly at Dungog Public School. I can’t praise this event enough. Pupils, teachers, parents and other guests were entertained and educated by several performances of traditional dance and the telling of Dreamtime stories imagined by the students. Cheers and screams went up from the pupils when the young performers invited several of their teachers to perform a traditional dance with them. What a wonderful way to engage these students and further their experience of Aboriginal culture.

Hunter Joint Organisation (JO)
The GM and I attended the second Hunter JO Board Meeting last week. Just some background on the functions of the Hunter JO, and JOs in general. JOs are new local government entities with legal powers to support councils to work together for better rural and regional outcomes. They are an important initiative to build stronger councils and improve service delivery and infrastructure across rural and regional communities. JOs will enhance the way local and state governments will work together to plan and deliver important regional infrastructure and investment.

For more information on the Hunter JO, to view the Hunter JO Strategic Plan 2018-2021, or to access agendas and minutes, please see: http://strategicservicesaustralia.com.au/joint-organisation/.        

One of the major functions of the Hunter JO is advocacy on behalf of its member councils seeking better regional outcomes. So I spoke to the issue of unrateable land, asking the JO to advocate on our behalf and on behalf of other affected councils. I received overwhelming support on this matter, including from those councils unaffected by this issue, although most of the councils in the Hunter are affected by unrateable land in one respect out another. This will now go to the next meeting of the JO to be ratified as a decision of the JO to advocate on behalf of its member councils.

Community Owned Renewable Energy (CORE)
I attended a talk organised as part of Science Week, by the Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub and Sustaining the Williams Valley. We heard from experts in the field and practitioners of CORE initiatives. There is a very willing group of community members who are interested in pursuing a project in CORE and who will next meet on Saturday, 25 August to discuss how to forward the project. For further information, please contact Anne Boyden on 0411 035 532.

Accolades for Dungog Boomerang Bags
And while we’re on the subject of sustainable solutions, congratulations to all at Dungog Boomerang Bags, for their Highly Commended in the Hunter Business Chamber Award’s Excellence in Sustainability.

This Week
In this week’s Strategic Workshop, Councillors and Senior Staff will be discussing a portfolio-type arrangement for Councillors so that we can most effectively step up our lobbying efforts to State Government in the lead up to the March 2019 election.  

Executive Manager Infrastructure and Assets, Steve Hitchens, will join the GM and I in meeting with some of the Regional Infrastructure NSW Coordinator, Ken Gillespie’s team to work through the best approach on funding applications for our top priorities in the infrastructure backlog. The Coordinator’s role is to find ways to deliver infrastructure programs in regional NSW and he has a direct line to the Premier and Deputy Premier.

The next Ordinary Meeting of Council will be held at 6pm, this Wednesday (15 August) at the Council Chambers. I’m pleased to say that the numbers in the gallery are building. It’s great to see so many community members take an interest in their Council.

Port Stephens Hunter Local Area Command is holding a community meeting at Clarence Town School of Arts this Thursday (16 August). This is your chance meet your local police and let the powers that be know how important it is that a police presence is maintained across the Shire.

Special Rates Variation (SRV)
There is still time to have your say regarding the SRV. An information sheet and survey were posted out recently with your rates notice. Please check it out and post back your thoughts. There are boxes you can tick indicating your support or opposition to the proposed rates rise. If you are not in support of the proposed rates rise please let us know what services you think we can do without. This feedback is important.

There is also a space to provide us with other ideas about how to deal with our infrastructure backlog. We incorporated this into the survey at the behest of a community member who was at one of our SRV presentations. I tell you this to let you know that we are very willing to hear your ideas and most definitely want your feedback.

I have been contacted by a resident who couldn’t access the rates calculator on Council’s website due to an incompatibility issue with her computer. If you can’t access the calculator, Dungog Library has computers that you can utilise, or pop into the Council office and the staff can help you out.

 

Regards Tracy Norman

Dungog Shire Mayor

13 August 2018