15 July 2020

With the first half of 2020 now behind us, it’s not unreasonable to hope for a better end to the year given the challenges that we have faced locally, and indeed internationally, with bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.

And things are already looking up.

It was great to hear news of the funding announcement for the memorial cycleway to connect Greta and Branxton, making a long-awaited project soon to become a reality. Congratulations to all involved. 

Then of course we had the welcome announcement from Deputy Premier John Barilario just weeks ago that our calls for reforms to the Resources for Regions program have been answered, and our local government area stands to receive a fixed amount of funding amounting to $4.5 million under Round Seven of the program. Better yet, 30 per cent of the available funds are open for community programs as well as infrastructure projects and Council is already getting to work alongside community organisations to prepare our applications by the 2 September deadline.

Locally, there’s also a lot of work happening to support our residents and businesses through the impacts of bushfires and COVID-19 restrictions, most substantially through Council’s $2 million Community Support Package.

A key component of the package is a rates and charges rebate scheme, which offsets the 2.6 per cent IPART-approved increase of rates, waste and water and sewer fixed charges for 2020/2021. The rebate is open to all residents, farmland and business ratepayers in the Singleton LGA who have been adversely financially affected by COVID-19, ensuring anyone doing it tough will not pay one cent more in rates and charges than the previous year.

What’s more, we’ve made it as simple and easy as possible to apply – and we don’t need to know anything in depth about your financial situation. If you tell us you’ve been adversely financially impacted by COVID-19, you’re eligible. You can download the application form from Council’s website or contact Council’s Customer Service team on 02 6578 7290 for a hard copy. The whole process is completely confidential, and you’ll be notified as soon as possible about the outcome of your application.

There’s also a range of grants programs available to community groups and businesses under our Community Relief + Rebuild Fund and Business Relief + Rebuild Fund in partnership with BHP’s Vital Futures program. Information webinars for businesses will be held on Wednesday 15 July at 8am and Thursday 16 July at 5.30pm. There’s a lot of information to take in, and all the details are available on our website. You can register for the webinars or apply online, or for further advice please contact 02 6578 7290.

You can also help us to record our COVID-19 experience in Branxton and surrounds for the history of the future. The Local History team at Singleton Library is collating the narrative of the COVID-19 experience as it happens – but they need your submissions of photos or momentos of your time in lockdown. It might be a picture of a pizza delivery on the front step, or how you marked Anzac Day: anything that visually captures what COVID-19 was like for us is welcome. To make it even more worthwhile, there are even Spend in Singleton gift cards for the best submissions that reach the Library by 9 August.

On a final note, it’s great to see the Greta-Branxton News back in print to keep our community informed of what’s happening in our local area. We know only too well the value of publications like this one to keep people and communities connected, and I look forward to more local news as we emerge from this pandemic.

Cr Sue Moore
Mayor of Singleton