Dungog Council to vote on its future - again

Merger issue not over yet

Dungog Shire councillors are set to re-visit the controversial merger issue at the next ordinary council meeting on Tuesday, May 16.

At an extraordinary meeting on May 1 the council narrowly voted against a merger with Port Stephens Council. 

In a lengthy report, the Council’s General Manager, Craig Deasey, had recommended that the councillors accept the invitation from Port Stephens Council to voluntarily merge, pending State Government funding for the new entity.

Instead councillors voted to investigate further a range of options including merging with Maitland Council, a boundary realignment and remaining stand alone – with the findings to be put to the public in a poll at the next council elections.

However Cr Glenn Wall, who moved the original motion to merge which was defeated 5-4,  lodged a rescission motion after the meeting, meaning the issue will go back to the council’s ordinary meeting on May 16 for debate.

The rescission motion was also signed by Mayor Harold Johnston and Cr Stephen Farrow.

Councillors were notified the day after the meeting that Deputy Mayor Tony McKenzie, who voted against the motion to merge, had resigned.

This means eight councilors will now vote on the issue.

In yet another twist in this long-running saga, Cr Neville Bale’s attendance at the May 16 meeting is in some doubt as he has a long-standing commitment elsewhere in the lead-up to the vote.

While at least one councillor wanted the rescission motion postponed so Cr Bale could attend, it is understood Cr Bale still has every intention of attending the meeting.

Around 200 people attended last week’s meeting which Mr Deasey said took the council by surprise.

He confirmed the next council meeting would be held in the James Theatre, in Brown Street, at 6pm and that a sound system would be provided so the public could hear the debate.

The rescission motion is expected to be dealt with prior to the regular council officer reports.