The new line-up of Councillors have hit the ground running. The first Council Meeting of the new term was very smooth and productive and I’m very confident we’re going to be achieving a lot over the next four years.
Their next challenge was the Local Government NSW (LGNSW) conference this week in Woollongong. It’s a very challenging time for local government in general, but the ongoing amalgamations that are mainly affecting Sydney councils are probably the biggest issue. NSW Premier Mike Baird certainly felt the heat when he arrived for his keynote address. There was a very vocal protest outside the venue and also during his speech.
This was proof that tensions continue to run high over the sacking of so many councils and their replacement by administrators – and the resulting lack of local voices in decision-making.
As well as Mike Baird, we heard from Paul Toole, the NSW Minister for Local Government, and also Peter Primrose MLC, Shadow Minister for Local Government.
Keynote speaker Peter McKinlay of McKinlay Douglas Ltd underlined the fact that councils are now expected to deal with so much more than roads, rates and rubbish. But while we’re trying to fulfil community expectations on many diverse levels, we also have to contend with the fact that we’ve effectively lost up to 40% of revenue because of cost-shifting from the State Government.
As well as the speakers, we also tackled matters of policy and got through 52 Notices of Motion from councils across the state. It was quite an introduction to local government for our new Coffs Councillors.
Tour de Coffs
Good luck to all the Tour de Coffs riders who are pushing on from Coffs to Dorrigo via Nymboida and Bellingen and back this weekend to raise money for Dorrigo local Jake Brook who needs ongoing care after being the victim of a king hit in 2010.