Bellingen and Kempsey Shire mayors invite Nambucca to join Joint Organisation

The pressure will be on councillors tomorrow night (Thursday) as Kempsey mayor Liz Campbell and Bellingen’s Dominic King, publicly ask Nambucca Shire Council to join them in the Mid North Coast Joint Organisation (MNCJO).

At this stage Nambucca, along with Coffs City and Clarence Councils, have been holding out against the push to join the JO, which was announced by the NSW Government in May this year.

MNCJO Chair Liz Campbell earlier wrote to the council outlining the key priorities identified to be of importance for the broader (former MIDROC) region.

These include, for starters, infrastructure renewal, renewable energy, community resilience, the ageing population, workforce profile and skills, biodiversity offsetting and opportunities around carbon, contaminated land and koala recovery.

However in his report to the councillors General Manager Michael Coulter lays out a very coherent argument as to why the council should continue to hold out for a second JO in the region.

He writes that if all three council were to join, the JO would stretch from Yamba to Camden Haven, which is not a “manageable geographic area” and has two major regional centres, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie.

It has not been explained how realistically regional centres will put aside their parochial interests when it comes to regional planning and advocacy

Michael Coulter

“Where there is finite funding, it is inevitable there will be disagreement of one is favoured over the other.”

He outlines a number of other disadvantages, including the financial impact on participating councils once the $300,000 seed funding has been exhausted.

He also talks about the risks of not joining, such as the possibility of being sidelined by the NSW Government bureaucracy who want to deal with 13 JOs rather than individual councils.

The recommendation is that:

Mid North Coast Joint Organisation be advised that Council is maintaining its established position of not participating in a joint organisation which does not include the Coffs Harbour local government area for the reason that the Nambucca Valley should not be estranged from its regional centre and community of interest.

The council meeting begins at 5.30pm.

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