MidCoast Council listens to community concerns in Hawks Nest meeting

(L-R) MidCoast Mayor Clare Pontin, Councillors Katheryn Stinson and Jeremy Miller, Director of Liveable Communities Paul DeSzell, Councillor Paul Sandilands, General Manager Adrian Pannucio, Director of Infrastructure and Engineering Services Robert Scott, and Director of Corporate Services Steve Embry.

MULTIPLE issues aired during a thorough Community Conversations event held by MidCoast Council at Hawks Nest Community Hall on Tuesday, 21 November.

The occasion was packed in with presentations from Council Directors and input from Mayor Clare Pontin and elected Councillors, with locals from across the Myall Coast region taking their chance to raise concerns and ask questions.

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Beginning with the state of Council’s finances, Director of Corporate Services Steve Embry pointed out that, although there is a “financial sustainability challenge, we have $5 billion of assets to consider, and a very large road network is part of that”.

The integral, and critical, value of grant-funding was clearly acknowledged.

“Grants were around 40 percent of revenue last year.”

Director of Infrastructure and Engineering Services, Robert Scott, highlighted the drain of catching up on decades of maintenance shortfalls.

“The maintenance budget is being stretched over an ever-widening array of maintenance problems, Council is barely playing catch-up on deterioration,” Mr Scott said.

“Repainting of the railings on the Singing Bridge is not a current proposal, however, Council is looking at a pedestrian refuge on the Tea Gardens end, to facilitate a one-way footpath situation for mobility scooters.”

Paul DeSzell, Director of Liveable Communities, covered many topics, clarifying Council’s position on recent highly-contentious topics including the Myall River dredge and the offshore wind turbines concept.

“The Corrie Channel is the official navigation channel according to the State Government, it will be dredged to maintain access, but the Eastern (Natural) Channel has only ever been dredged to resupply the Winda Woppa stockpile,” Mr DeSzell explained.

“Council is greatly supportive of renewable energy, but currently has no formal position on wind farms, and will consider all facts before establishing a position.”

Some locals contended the historical accuracy of certain statements, but Council’s focus appears fixed on the present and relatively recent past.

Many more issues were raised, including the Tea Gardens Pool, parking along Winda Woppa, domestic animals on beaches, and the iconic pelicans perched atop the Singing Bridge’s lights.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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