Despite making numerous representations to local State Members, the Minister for Local Government and the Deputy Premier of NSW, Coffs Harbour, Nambucca Shire and Clarence Valley councils have still not received any word on their request to establish a Joint Organisation to help progress a regional partnership.
Joint Organisations (JOs) are voluntary partnerships aimed at benefiting local communities by allowing councils to work together across their boundaries on joint strategies.
Last May, the NSW Government published its list of JOs for the state. The list left out Coffs Harbour City, Nambucca Shire and Clarence Valley councils.
Prior to the declaration, Clarence Valley Council, Coffs Harbour City Council, Bellingen Shire Council and Nambucca Shire Council had requested that they be allowed to form a North Coast JO as they felt that their locations and challenges were very similar with a strong community of interest centred on Coffs Harbour. It was also felt that regional partnership of the four would provide the most beneficial outcomes for their communities.
However, the Mid North Coast JO set up by the NSW Government in May listed Bellingen Shire Council, Kempsey Shire Council and Port Macquarie Hastings Council as its members.
Council subsequently received a letter jointly signed by from the Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Local Government Minister Gabrielle Upton that made clear that, with the exception of the Far West Region, the NSW Government would not have any additional joint organisations in regional NSW.
The three remaining councils – Coffs Harbour, Nambucca Shire and Clarence Valley – were advised in the letter to join the new Mid North Coast JO.
“But none of the remaining councils felt that a single JO made up of six councils covering a huge geographic area and including more than one regional city was the best approach as there would be competing needs and fewer similarities,” said Steve McGrath, Council’s General Manager.
“So Coffs Harbour, Nambucca Shire and Clarence Valley councils all approached their local State Members, and the relevant Ministers, to request that the state NSW Government form a new JO based on these local government areas.
“However, the only response has been letters from the Office for Local Government to individual Councillors at Coffs Harbour City Council urging them to join the existing Mid North Coast JO.”
At last night’s Council Meeting, Councillors noted the lack of progress and agreed to continue seeking a formal response from the NSW Government.