Local Government president Linda Scott hosts regional forum in Bellingen

LOCAL GOVERNMENT FORUM: Councillors and their senior staff gathered at 
Bellingen's Cedar Bar and Kitchen yesterday
LOCAL GOVERNMENT FORUM: Councillors and their senior staff gathered at Bellingen's Cedar Bar and Kitchen yesterday

It was an opportunity to air regional grievances to someone who might be listening.

Councillors and senior management from six Local Government Areas gathered in Bellingen yesterday (Thursday) at the invitation of Local Government Association President, Linda Scott, as part of regional forums set up by her to better understand the issues that are most pressing outside the cities.

City of Sydney Councillor Linda Scott was elected President of Local Government NSW (LGNSW) in December last year on a platform of inclusiveness.

“Country or city, residents and ratepayers want to have a real say in their neighbourhoods and their day-to-day lives. That's why local democratic representation through councils is so important to them," Cr Scott said.

Bellingen Shire councillors Garry Carter, Desmae Harrison, Dominic King and Jennie Fenton with Linda Scott

Bellingen Shire councillors Garry Carter, Desmae Harrison, Dominic King and Jennie Fenton with Linda Scott

Along with Bellingen Shire, there were also representatives from Nambucca, Coffs City, Kempsey, Clarence and Richmond Valley Councils.

Guest speaker was Bellingen Neighbourhood Centre manager, Kerry Pearce, who talked about affordable housing and the recent forum that sought answers to the problem.

Bellingen Shire Council’s General Manager Liz Jeremy said the presentation was well-received because it was an issue that all the councils were grappling with.

“Everyone was interested … Kerry talked about some of the partnerships and plans that are being put in place here,” Mrs Jeremy said.

“As well as the forum, our own councillors had a chance to talk to Linda on our specific issues.

“Most importantly we talked to her about local government funding and the changes that need to be made to support local communities.

“We also discusses the Pacific Highway handover, funding for infrastructure support, recycling and the effect of the China Sword policy and flying foxes, which is something that touches many of our councils – some embrace them and others don’t.”

We can’t afford to be forgo the opportunity (of being in a JO) for funding on behalf of the community.

Liz Jeremy

Joint Organisations were of course also discussed.

Bellingen has joined the JO with Kempsey and Port Macquarie in the Mid North Coast Joint Organisation, which was the only offer on the table, while Nambucca, Coffs and Clarence remain independent, holding out for a second North Coast JO to be created.

“At this point the NSW Government says it will not establish another JO so until that happens we just get on with the job,” Mrs Jeremy said.

“We have received the $300,000 in funding and are proceeding with a strategic plan to identify the priorities for the region covered by the JO.”