Deputy mayor puts gloves on in fight for Port Stephens

IF ANYONE was looking for a metaphor of what Port Stephens is in for in the lead up to a decision on a council merger, councillor Chris Doohan provided it last week.

GLOVES ON: Deputy mayor Chris Doohan says councillors are ready to fight after Port Stephens was "blindsided" by the merger proposal.

GLOVES ON: Deputy mayor Chris Doohan says councillors are ready to fight after Port Stephens was "blindsided" by the merger proposal.

The deputy mayor turned up to an extraordinary meeting on January 19, wearing boxing gloves.

“It’s exactly what it is – a fight,” he said.

“I slammed them on the desk.”

Cr Steve tucker told the Examiner he wondered how Port Stephens Council could be found Fit for the Future by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal only to be told a merger with Newcastle was on the cards.

“Port residents have made a lot of sacrifices over the years [to become financially viable] and we have millions in assets. That will be taken away.”

Most of the concern from councillors surrounded the current financial state of Newcastle City Council and the potential lack of representation of Port Stephens.

“Our finances are in good order, Newcastle’s is a mess,” Cr John Nell said.

It was reported that the planned amalgamations would reduce the number of NSW councils from 152 to 112 and potentially save $85 million across two decades, with much of the savings coming via staffing cuts and “redeployment”. The figure also includes $20 million from the NSW government as part of a funding package to support councils going through a merger.

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