Meeting with Trains NSW
Dungog District Chamber of Commerce President, Jenny Lewis, Allen Shrimpton and I met with Brad Dixon and Robert Blanch from Trains NSW to discuss the possible reinstatement of the 1.45pm train to Dungog and the 3.30pm train from Dungog, which were changed back in 2013.
The loss of these services has had a negative effect on businesses in town. Many day-trippers would catch the morning train to Dungog, go for a walk or do some sight-seeing, have lunch and a shop, then catch the 3.00pm train home. The Eastlakes Walking Club was recently in town and explained to Deputy Mayor, Digby Rayward, and I how much they missed this service. They still came up for the walk but had no time to spend their hard-earned in our town.
This service was also important to those who have appointments in Maitland and Newcastle and need to get home to pick up their children from school, or to utilise the school bus service in and out of Dungog town. Fellowship groups that also visited Dungog regularly, such as the Maitland chapter of ‘Cuppa and a Chat’, which provided company to those who feel isolated and alone, were also affected by this timetable change.
We also discussed the need for an upgrade to Paterson train station to allow for accessibility.
Meeting with Michael Johnsen
General Manager (GM), Coralie Nichols, and I had a meeting with Michael Johnsen. Michael had requested the meeting after he received a letter from us advising of the proposed special rates variation and the financial assistance and road reclassification we require from both State and Federal Governments to assist with our infrastructure issues (primarily roads and timber bridges).
According to the 20 Year Vision for Regional NSW, recently released by the NSW Government, there is a realisation that each region of NSW is unique and decision-making should be tailored, not one-size-fits-all. We are calling on the State Government to look at the unique situation that Dungog is in and help us tailor a solution to fit us.
We also asked Michael to support us in our quest to convince the NSW State Government that spending $14-$17 million on the Brig O’ Johnson Bridge in Clarence Town is not a good use of tax-payers’ money – this spend will not see any improvement in the bridge capacity, it will only reinstate a one-way heritage listed bridge with no pedestrian access. A second bridge would still be required, if the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage allowed this to occur, and a further $11 million would be required for the second bridge requiring Council to take out a $5.5M loan to match a grant from the NSW State Government. So, the overall spend would be in the vicinity of $25 - $28M. It would be ideal if RMS would go back to the drawing board on the Brig O’ Johnson Bridge, with a fit-for-purpose financially responsible solution to service the residents of our Shire’s largest growth area. Michael agreed to support us in our endeavours.
Dowling St Upgrade
There has been some misinformation doing the rounds regarding the upgrade to Dowling St, so I asked Executive Manager of Infrastructure and Assets for an update. Steve says:
Council is currently in the final phases of preparing the concept designs for the Dowling Street reconstruction between Mary and Mackay Streets. These concept designs will be provided to Councillors prior to a Public Exhibition period.
Negotiations with utility providers are currently being completed with relocation of these assets scheduled to be undertaken in late 2018. Actual road construction activities are then scheduled to commence in early 2019.
If you require any further information, please contact Council on 4995 7777. We love answering questions and providing information on all things Council.