Mayoral Column - 28 August 2019

One of the key elements residents nominated in the vision for our area is to be a connected community and that’s been a strong theme for the past couple of weeks in many ways, starting with a meeting with the Opposition Leader in Sydney last week.

Singleton Council is proud of the relationships we have with both sides of politics at all levels, and I was very pleased to take the opportunity to meet with Jodi McKay and Member for Cessnock and Shadow Minister for the Hunter, Clayton Barr MP so early on in Ms McKay’s leadership.

My fellow councillor Godfrey Adamthwaite, the General Manager and I made the trip to Sydney with a full list of topics to discuss, all based on Singleton’s Advocacy Agenda and the issues most pertinent to the people of our local government area. Of particular importance were the construction of the Singleton bypass of the New England Highway, safety issues associated with the New England Highway at Whittingham, our issues with the current administration of the Resources for Regions program and the Two More Trains for Singleton campaign for increased passenger services.

Of course, there has been action by the NSW Government around the Resources for Regions program and increased passenger train services. The Deputy Premier, John Barilaro announced a review of the Resources for Regions program in Singleton in April, and advised on a return visit last month that the outcomes would be announced in the near future.

We also heard earlier this year that the long campaign for more passenger train services between Singleton and Maitland (including stops at Branxton and Greta) had been rewarded, with the announcement of up to three additional return trains to start in early 2020.

Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen MP was the bearer of the good news, saying the matter had been the subject of consideration by Transport for NSW and, thanks to the hard work of many, was becoming a reality.

It’s an outcome I am very keen to see and as the months quickly count down to the new year, I have written to the Minister for Transport Andrew Constance to enquire about the progress of the implementation of the new services and to offer Council’s assistance to encourage local commuters to plan to leave their cars at home.

As Mr Constance well knows, and as we told Ms McKay last week, public transport services – and passenger rail in particular – are vital to improve the livability of our town and villages, and are a tangible demonstration that our community is indeed connected to Maitland, Newcastle and beyond.