Biripi Way session – open letter to council

MidCoast Council's community information session at the proposed new headquarters, the former Masters building on Biripi Way, Taree South on November 22.
MidCoast Council's community information session at the proposed new headquarters, the former Masters building on Biripi Way, Taree South on November 22.

Open letter to MidCoast Council GM 

I attended the Biripi Way session on November 22 at no one's behest but only in response to MidCoast Council's invitation to the public.

I appreciate the senior council staff comment about the session saying,

"The meeting was good. We almost had two hours of questions. Lots of input from the community. Everyone asked questions respectfully."

I know that a lot of the queries were on the fiscal angle but I hope that a record of the two non fiscal queries I raised will be made by the council.  These are:

I queried council staff on the comparisons made in justifying the office centralisation proposal. The comparisons were with City of Newcastle, Shell Harbour and Geelong as good examples of councils which had effected office centralisation. 

I pointed out that the areas of these three were about 187 square kilometres, 147 sq km and 1200 sq km respectively. In contrast, our local government area is 10,053 sq km. 

This challenges the comparison especially if council workers and the public need to travel to a central location (for services or meeting attendances) from an area 58 times larger than the City of Newcastle, 68 times larger than Shell Harbour and 8.3 times larger than Geelong local government areas. 

I recall senior council staff acknowledgement of this point.

I asked whether the council might consider postponing its late February 2019 decision until the passing of the State election. 

Given that Labor has promised a plebiscite on the forced mergers, it would not be prudent to approve of something that may need to be dismantled at some cost if a plebiscite were to inform a demerger. 

Council staff said this was a matter for the elected councillors to consider.

Nawal Maharaj

Harrington