Green tick for new city budget

City of Newcastle will invest $32 million into sustainable waste measures and deliver major infrastructure projects, cultural facilities and workforce development under a new budget adopted by Council tonight.

Delivering a $12 million surplus, the $297 million City budget features a strong focus on environmental outcomes via a $12.35 million organics recycling facility that will divert thousands of tonnes of waste from landfill and save ratepayers an estimated $5.5m in state levies over the next six years.

The 2019-20 budget also sees the City ‘balancing the books’ by not relying on reserve funds for any services or works projects, as adequate revenue is generated.

“The adoption of tonight’s budget formalises a sustainable financial blueprint for the next 12 months and beyond,” the Lord Mayor said.

“It offers significant investment in major sustainability projects, while still delivering essential projects and services that the community expects from local government.

“Forty per cent of our $81 million works budget is committed to environmental initiatives, including new waste facilities, improvements to recreational parks and continued coastal revitalisation.

“Our budget includes a $32 million investment in the expansion of the Summerhill Waste Management Centre, including the organics facility and a $6 million resource recovery centre which allow the City to generate new income from the sale of organic and other recycled materials.”

Other highlights of the newly adopted budget include:

  • $21.6 million investment in City parks and recreation,
  • $14.8 million on cultural facilities ($2.3 million on Newcastle Art Gallery, $2.3 million on Newcastle Museum, $8 million on Civic Theatre)
  • $13.8 million on road infrastructures projects; and
  • $10 million in library services and upgrades
  • $5 million towards replacing outdated fleet
  • $2.5 million on graduate apprentice and trainee recruitment.
  • $2 million on Smart City projects
  • $1.5 million towards improving development application processing

The Lord Mayor said the 2019-20 budget was a strong indicator of the City’s sound financial position.

“Financial sustainability is one of the foundations of good government and this budget will guide our revenue and expenditure balance over the next 12 months to help maintain our strong financial position,” Cr Nelmes said.

“The income and spending outlined in this budget will allow us to deliver the many essential services expected of the city as well as helping to deliver improvements to many areas of business.

“Delivering a surplus that equates to 3.9 per cent of our forecast income of $309 million ensures that we have the required financial flexibility to address unforeseen events, such as natural disasters.

Twenty-four submissions were made on 32 different matters in the draft 2019-20 Our Budget and draft 2019-20 Fees and Charges Register.

Aggravated armed robbery – Stockton

A man has been injured during an aggravated armed robbery in Stockton overnight.

About 11.30pm (Wednesday 26 June 2019), two men entered a licenced premises on Fullerton Street, Stockton, armed with what’s believed to be a rifle and a tomahawk.

The two men threatened patrons and staff, during which a 40-year-old man received a small laceration to the face.

One of the men demanded cash from a staff member before the pair fled the scene in a vehicle.

A car was later found well alight at Pitt Street Reserve, Stockton.

Officers from Newcastle City Police District arrived and established two crime scenes.

The 40-year-old man was treated at the scene by NSW Ambulance paramedics; no one else was injured.

Police are now appealing for anyone with information or anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity in the area at that time to come forward.

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.

City to seek clarification about offshore sand extraction

City of Newcastle will seek clarification on the NSW Government’s position on offshore sand extraction for nourishment and replenishment of Stockton Beach, following a successful Lord Mayoral Minute at last night’s Council meeting.

The minute cited advice from the UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory (WRL), commissioned by the NSW Government’s Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), identifying offshore sand extraction as one of the only viable methods for large-scale beach nourishment along the open coast.

Stockton-damage-inside-release-(1).jpg
City of Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said that despite the expert advice, the NSW Government’s position remained unclear.

“A recent NSW Government-sponsored report identifies offshore sand extraction as possibly the only method to renourish Stockton Beach, however it remains unclear whether the NSW Government will support the use of this mechanism as a part of City of Newcastle’s Coastal Management Program,” Councillor Nelmes said.

“I want to thank the Stockton Community Liaison Group and the Newcastle Coastal Planning Working Group for the work they have done to date to address coastal erosion at Stockton.

“This minute, supported by the City of Newcastle, and the groups currently assisting to develop our coastal management programs, simply seeks clarification about the use of offshore sand extraction for the replenishment of sand at Stockton Beach.

“It is clear from my discussions with both groups that clarity from the NSW Government is urgently needed to move forward with our vital coastal planning and management.”

Ron Boyd, a Stockton-based expert on coastal erosion, and member of the liaison group and the Newcastle Coastal Planning Working Group, said clarification of the supply of marine sand for beach replenishment was a critical component of NSW coastal councils’ response to the Coastal Management Act of 2016.

“The severe sand erosion problem at Stockton can only be remediated by sand replenishment,” Associate Professor Boyd said. There are limited options for sourcing this sand and the marine option may prove to be the most suitable and cost effective.

“I’m aware that there’s an abundance of sand available on the inner shelf off Newcastle for this purpose, as well as a large sand deposit accumulating seaward of Nobbys Beach.

“Many coastal councils would also be considering this option, and in the short window available to draft Coastal Management Programs, it’s critical to identify if this option is available and how to proceed to include it.”

For more information about City of Newcastle’s coastal planning processes, visit our website: http://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/Living/Environment/Coast/Coastal-Planning

A copy of UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory’s ‘Guidelines for Sand Nourishment: Science and Synthesis for NSW can be accessed here: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/-/media/OEH/Corporate-Site/Documents/Water/Coasts/sand-nourishment-guidelines-science-synthesis-nsw.pdf

Green tick for new city budget

City of Newcastle will invest $32 million into sustainable waste measures and deliver major infrastructure projects, cultural facilities and workforce development under a new budget adopted by Council tonight.

Delivering a $12 million surplus, the $297 million City budget features a strong focus on environmental outcomes via a $12.35 million organics recycling facility that will divert thousands of tonnes of waste from landfill and save ratepayers an estimated $5.5m in state levies over the next six years.

The 2019-20 budget also sees the City ‘balancing the books’ by not relying on reserve funds for any services or works projects, as adequate revenue is generated.

“The adoption of tonight’s budget formalises a sustainable financial blueprint for the next 12 months and beyond,” the Lord Mayor said.

“It offers significant investment in major sustainability projects, while still delivering essential projects and services that the community expects from local government.

“Forty per cent of our $81 million works budget is committed to environmental initiatives, including new waste facilities, improvements to recreational parks and continued coastal revitalisation.

“Our budget includes a $32 million investment in the expansion of the Summerhill Waste Management Centre, including the organics facility and a $6 million resource recovery centre which allow the City to generate new income from the sale of organic and other recycled materials.”

Other highlights of the newly adopted budget include:

  • $21.6 million investment in City parks and recreation,
  • $14.8 million on cultural facilities ($2.3 million on Newcastle Art Gallery, $2.3 million on Newcastle Museum, $8 million on Civic Theatre)
  • $13.8 million on road infrastructures projects; and
  • $10 million in library services and upgrades
  • $5 million towards replacing outdated fleet
  • $2.5 million on graduate apprentice and trainee recruitment.
  • $2 million on Smart City projects
  • $1.5 million towards improving development application processing

The Lord Mayor said the 2019-20 budget was a strong indicator of the City’s sound financial position.

“Financial sustainability is one of the foundations of good government and this budget will guide our revenue and expenditure balance over the next 12 months to help maintain our strong financial position,” Cr Nelmes said.

“The income and spending outlined in this budget will allow us to deliver the many essential services expected of the city as well as helping to deliver improvements to many areas of business.

“Delivering a surplus that equates to 3.9 per cent of our forecast income of $309 million ensures that we have the required financial flexibility to address unforeseen events, such as natural disasters.

Twenty-four submissions were made on 32 different matters in the draft 2019-20 Our Budget and draft 2019-20 Fees and Charges Register.

Council Update Tuesday 25 June 2019

Following is a summary of the Ordinary Council Meeting for Tuesday 28 May 2019. NB: it is not a full record of resolutions. 

Lord Mayoral Minutes 

A LMM calling for the development of a Social Infrastructure Strategy – to fund, plan and deliver important social services that will help meet the needs of City of Newcastle’s increasing and diverse population – was supported by Council.

A LMM requesting the City write to NSW Government ministers regarding their policy on offshore sand extraction for the purposes of beach replenishment and nourishment – amid ongoing erosion at Stockton Beach – was supported by Council.

Ordinary Business 

Adoption of 2019/20 Our Budget

Council resolved to adopt the 2019-20 Our Budget and 2019-20 Fees and Charges register.

Making of the Rates and Charges for 2019/20

Council resolved to adopt the 2019-20 rates and charges as displayed in full in the final 2019-20 Our Budget.

Interest on Overdue Rates and Charges 2019/20

Council voted to apply the full rate of 7.5 per cent interest a year on overdue rates and charges. Councillors also voted to adopt a 3.09 per cent fixed rate of interest on overdue rates and charges that are deferred against an eligible ratepayer’s estate for 2019/20.

Making of the Rate – Hunter Catchment Contribution and Commission for the year commencing 1 July 2019

Council voted to take a five per cent commission on levies collected from landowners on behalf of Hunter Local Land Services. The levy, known as the Hunter Contribution Catchment rate, is compulsory for relevant properties with a land value greater than $300.

Adoption of the Code of Conduct and its associated procedures

Council endorsed the 2019-20 Code of Conduct for Councillors, staff and volunteers, which was part of NSW Government reforms to consolidate all ethical standards for local government.

Adoption of Compliance and Enforcement Policy

Council endorsed the new Compliance and Enforcement Policy which provides information to all internal and external stakeholders and interested parties about the City’s position on compliance and enforcement matters.

Executive Monthly Performance Report

Council received the Executive Monthly Performance report for May.

Notice of Motions

Phase out of Glyphosate

Councillors supported a NOM to begin phasing out the use of the product Roundup because of its use of Glyphosate and instead to use alternative products where possible.

DA Committee  

2 Parnell Place, Newcastle east – Alterations and Additions to Dwelling 

A Development Application seeking consent for construction of a chimney, indoor garden and internal lift at 2 Parnell Place, Newcastle East, was approved by councillors.

70 and 72 Blue Gum Road, Jesmond – Modification to Multiple Dwelling Housing (42 dwellings) 

An application to change the use of an already-approved development at 70-72 Blue Gum Road, Jesmond, from serviced apartments to dwellings, increase the number of dwellings from 36-42 and modify the development’s dimensions, was supported by councillors.

Statement on lease to male-only tennis club

City of Newcastle has written to Adamstown Rosebud Tennis Club advising that it will not consider renewing a licence to use the courts at Adamstown Park until the Club’s constitution is changed to allow women members.

The City determined late last year that the Tennis Club, as manager of the public courts, had been indirectly discriminating against women under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 NSW by providing its all-male membership with a discounted hiring fee, and refusing to extend the discount to anyone else.

This unfair arrangement, also a breach of the 2018/19 licence agreement, was brought to the City’s attention by one of Newcastle’s top tennis players, Emma Pollock, in a letter to Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, after Emma had been refused membership on account of not being a man.

Earlier this year the Club changed its pricing structure, in response to subsequent approaches by the City, to extend the discount to casual users of the courts.

But its refusal to date to amend its constitution to allow women to become members is considered unacceptable by the City of Newcastle on the basis that the facilities are public assets.

Below: Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Emma Pollock  
LordMayorandEmmaPollock.jpgAccordingly, in a letter to the Club Friday, we wrote:

“It has been brought to the attention of the City of Newcastle that the tennis club’s constitution only allows for male members and precludes female members. This is not acceptable as it does not accord with the values of equity and non-discrimination which CN promotes internally and in the community.

“The purpose of this letter is to notify the tennis club that City of Newcastle will not consider offering a further Facility Licence and Management Agreement commencing on 1 July 2019, or thereafter, unless and until the tennis club amends its constitution to provide women members with the same status, rights and obligations.”

From Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes:

“I have been supporting Emma Pollock to seek a fair resolution. There is no place in our city for this type of discrimination.  We are committed to addressing inequality and creating a caring and inclusive community.  This includes making our city’s assets available for the enjoyment of everyone.”

From Emma Pollock:

“Late last year I became aware that I was unable to become a member of Rosebuds Tennis Association because their club’s constitution only allowed men to join. It was also brought to my attention that club members receive a heavily discounted membership rate that females would never be able to access. As a local tennis player and qualified coach, I am passionate about increasing participation in the sport and ensuring equal opportunities for all players. As such, I was extremely disappointed that this blatant gender inequality still exists in this day and age.

I reached out to the Newcastle City Council who have played an integral role in addressing the issue, communicating with Adamstown Rosebuds Tennis Association and supporting gender equality.

Tennis is a lifelong sport and should be made available to those who want to support and be part of their local club regardless of gender, age and skill level. I hope that bringing this issue to the public’s attention will encourage all sporting clubs across Australia to support fairness and gender equality.”

Aggravated break and enter – Thornton

Police are appealing for information after an aggravated break and enter in the state’s Hunter region overnight.

About 6pm yesterday (Monday 24 June 2019), a 28-year-old man was inside his home on Railway Avenue, Thornton when he heard a noise.

The man, who is legally blind, noticed an unknown man standing in the hallway before the offender pushed him into a wall and fled the scene.

Nothing was taken from the home and the man wasn’t injured.

Officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District attended and established a crime scene.

The man is described as being of Caucasian appearance, about 175cms tall, with a medium build and wearing a black hooded jacket.

Police are now urging anyone with information or who may have noticed anything suspicious in the area around this time to come forward.

Fifth person charged with drug supply offences – Newcastle

A fifth person has been charged as part of an ongoing investigation into drug supply in the Newcastle area.

In February 2019, detectives from Newcastle City Police District established Strike Force Toocooya to investigate the supply of heroin in the Newcastle area.

To date, four people have been charged with more than 400 offences as part of Strike Force Toocooya, they remain before the courts.

Following inquiries by Strike Force detectives, about 9.20am yesterday (Monday 24 June 2019), detectives from Newcastle City Police District attended a home on Gould Road, Eagle Vale where they spoke to a 40-year-old man.

He was arrested and taken to Campbelltown Police Station.

He was charged with supply prohibited drug greater than indictable quantity (x3), supply prohibited drugs on ongoing basis and supply prohibited drugs greater than commercial quantity.

He was granted conditional bail to appear at Liverpool Local Court on Wednesday 21 August 2019.

Police seek assistance to locate missing man – Maitland

Police are renewing their appeal for public assistance to help locate a man who went missing from the Maitland area yesterday.

Michael McGarity, aged 61, was last seen leaving Maitland Hospital about 1.30am yesterday (Monday 24 June 2019).

He has walked out of the hospital and was seen heading towards Telarah.

Police and family hold concerns for his welfare due to medical reasons.

Today, officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District conducted an extensive land search around the Telarah and Maitland areas, with the assistance of the NSW Police Dog Unit, Police Rescue, PolAir and police trail bikes.

Mr McGarity is known to frequent the Newcastle and North Rothbury areas.

He is described as being of Caucasian appearance, about 190cm tall with a thin build, black hair and brown eyes. He has a tattoo on his left lower arm ‘TY’.

He was last seen wearing a black hooded jacket and white T-shirt with grey jeans and navy-blue shoes.

Anyone with information on Michael’s whereabouts is urged to contact their local police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Police investigate fatal house fire – Singleton

Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a fatal house fire at Singleton overnight.

About 3.30am (Wednesday 26 June 2019), officers from Hunter Valley Police District were called to Brittliffe Close, after reports a house was well alight.

Officers from Fire and Rescue NSW attended and extinguished the blaze; however, the house was destroyed.

An 11-year-old boy was located deceased inside the home.

NSW Ambulance paramedics transported a 31-year-old woman, and three young girls to Singleton Hospital.

Two girls, aged five, were pronounced deceased shortly after arrival.

The woman and an eight-year-old girl were transferred to John Hunter Hospital where they remain in a stable condition.

Police and fire investigators will examine the home to identify where and how the fire started.

An investigation has been commenced and a report will be prepared for the information of the Coroner.

Emergency services have praised the efforts of neighbours who came to the family’s aid.