Port Stephens Council schedules buses for people to attend merger inquiry

PORT Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie has urged residents to board a bus to the second merger inquiry at Shoal Bay in a show of solidarity.

About 400 people filled first inquiry at Salamander Bay, at the eastern end of the council area. Community leaders called on Mr Reynolds to hold a second inquiry at Raymond Terrace for people in west to attend – a call that fell on deaf ears.

“If the Delegate [Ian Reynolds] won’t bring a public inquiry to people in the western areas of Port Stephens, then we’ll take the people to him,” Cr MacKenzie said.

“This is an important issue for the people of Port Stephens, and the public inquiry is an important part of the process for people to address their views directly to the Delegate who will report back to the state government.

“Yet a significant proportion of our population is being excluded from the opportunity to attend because of the sheer logistics of being able to get there.

Port Stephens Council will provide two free buses for residents in the rural west to attend the public inquiry into the proposed merger between Port Stephens and Newcastle councils on Wednesday, February 24.

Provided people register to jump on the bus the services would cover Seaham and Raymond Terrace, as well as Karuah, Medowie, and Salt Ash to take people to Port Stephens Country Club at Shoal Bay and home again for the event. The buses will only go ahead if there is sufficient interest from the community.

“Whether you agree with the proposal or stand with me to fight it, I encourage everyone to take advantage of the free buses to Shoal Bay on Wednesday, and register to attend the public inquiry,” Cr MacKenzie said.

For more information about the free bus or to reserve your seat, contact the council on 4980 0255, email council@portstephens.nsw.gov.au or visit council’s administration building by 12pm on February 22. Interested people will be contacted on Tuesday February 23 with confirmation for the bus service.

Please note, people who wish to attend the public inquiry must first register at www.councilboundaryreview.nsw.gov.au before 9am on Tuesday, February 23.

Registrations to speak at the public inquiry close at 12pm on Friday, February 19.