Dungog Council is leaving the decision of a merger partner up to the community

Dungog councillor Glenn Wall said if anyone believes Dungog can stand alone has blinkers on.

“We will be a merged entity into the future,” he said.

Cr Wall was speaking at Tuesday night’s council meeting where the public gallery was overflowing with interested residents.

Last week the state government announced it will form 19 new councils across the state through amalgamations.  Newcastle, Port Stephens, Maitland and Dungog are yet to discover their fate.

A state government delegate is investigating a council merger between Dungog and Port Stephens.  The investigation comes after Port Stephens council said it wanted to merge with Dungog instead of proceeding with a proposal to merge with Newcastle council. 

“In making our submission, council has to be mindful not to support a merger with either Maitland or Port Stephens,” Cr Wall said.

“This is the only reasonable and fair way for the general manager to deal with it.

“We are not taking a position, it is up to the community to be very vocal about what they want to see happen.

“This third submission will be dealt with in the same way as the first two, just dealing with the facts.”

Dungog councillor Nancy Knudsen wanted to have a plebiscite to gauge the reactions of shire residents regarding the two proposed mergers currently on the table.

Cr Knudsen was told there was insufficient time to have the plebiscite before the June deadline for submissions.

“Dungog Council, from a professional and unbiased point of view must weigh the advantages of both proposed mergers and give reasons, and take into account the views of all residents, whether their voices be strong or weak. 

“I despair at the procedure which has accompanied this amalgamation process, making it harder for all.

“The detail of attention by councillors which accompanied and followed the original review committee set up to study NSW amalgamations has been impossible to continue because of the faster pace of new proposals, legal challenges and sudden announcements by the minister.

‘This merger will affect our children and their children and is not a temporary measure.

“The council of any merger partner will not be the council in control of administration of the new local government area and the attitude or aptitude of the current council of the proposed merger partner is irrelevant.

“Council must weigh the advantages of both proposed mergers and listen to all residents.”

Cr Linda Bowden said her first preference is to stand alone with appropriate government funding.

“Council needs to listen to and advise the community . . . and councillors have a duty to look at the big picture,” she said.

“I urge citizens to go onto the website and look at the available evidence and make a decision on what they would like to see happen.”

A meeting will also be held with the delegate at Dungog RSL Club from 7 to 10pm on Thursday, June 9.

DUNGOG'S FUTURE: There are two merger proposals on the table for Dungog - one with Port Stephens and the other with Maitland.  Shire residents are urged to have their say.

DUNGOG'S FUTURE: There are two merger proposals on the table for Dungog - one with Port Stephens and the other with Maitland. Shire residents are urged to have their say.

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