To me the derogatory remarks going around with Newcastle City Council being described as a basket case is far from the truth. I attended as a private individual the afternoon session of the Merger Public Inquiry held at the Marina Function Centre (above the Fish Co-op) at Carrington on Thursday 4th February. The first speaker was the Interim Chief Executive Officer of Newcastle City Council, Mr Frank Cordingley. The PowerPoint presentation he made is now publicly available on the Newcastle City Council website HERE
It demonstrated that Newcastle Council has made substantial progress over the last couple of years in both recording a surplus (8th largest in the State for 2015) and addressing their infrastructure backlog. I’d be really interested to see a comparative graph made including Port Stephens Council.
So, next time you hear someone bag Newcastle Council as a financial basket case, please correct them! It is extremely disappointing that our local newspaper has not seen fit to include this into any of the reports on the merger.
In contrast to Horizons inquiry that morning, neither the afternoon nor evening session at Newcastle attracted much public interest. I would estimate that the majority of the afternoon session attendees of around 35 people were Council officers and/or Councillors from both Councils and media. Six people were registered to speak at the afternoon session and others were invited at the conclusion. Most speakers there perceived a merger with Lake Macquarie as more sensible, if there was to be a merger. I understand that the evening session only attracted 17 people.
It would seem that the organizers of these public inquiries did not really read what local people might be thinking when setting the times and venues. The additional hearing has been set for Shoal Bay Country Club for the evening on Wednesday 25 February. Why they didn’t put this one in the west I just don’t know!
I asked Mr Reynolds at the Newcastle session to please invite the CEO of Newcastle City Council to open any additional session with the same PowerPoint Presentation I saw. It would be small recompense for the derogatory remarks being bandied about in Port Stephens.
The 47 speakers from Horizons will not be able to have another go so there will need to be some fresh speakers at Shoal Bay.
Everyone should still put in a submission by 26th February, regardless of whether you attended or signed a petition. This time it is not enough to depend on organizations such as TRRA to be the only voice. Links and information are all on the PSC website – www.portstephens.nsw.gov.au
Newcastle Herald was the only media source which has covered the afternoon session at Newcastle and included reference to the presentation by the Newcastle City Council CEO HERE
Other Media reports not published by the Examiner
Compiled for TRRA Website by Margaret Wilkinson