6 November 2019
Last week’s announcement that the Two More Trains for Singleton campaign had indeed achieved what the name called for put a big tick on Singleton’s Advocacy Agenda.
Council has whole-heartedly supported the community’s push for increased passenger train services between Singleton and Newcastle, and Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole’s welcome news that two additional services will start from 5 January 2020 was the result of a long 10 years of meetings, petitions and letters.
As well as delivering another two hours in Sydney and Newcastle for commuters seven days a week – and making public transport a more viable option for those who were previously forced into their cars – I hope that we can take this announcement as an indication the Government is taking all of the issues raised in our Agenda under serious consideration.
With two elections in quick succession early this year, I spent a lot of time highlighting what we need from all levels of government to meet the needs of our local government now and into the future, both personally and through 40 formal letters sent to the members of the new cabinets. As a result, we continued our positive relationship with the Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her Government.
The General Manager and I also met with the new NSW Labor and Opposition Leader Jodi McKay in August, and she already had a copy of our Agenda before we even set foot in her office.
Significant progress is being made on other items on our Agenda, with Council extending the maintenance contract with Roads and Maritime Services to look after the New England Highway road corridor through Singleton to create welcoming gateways to the township.
Council has also held productive meetings with the Deputy Premier John Barilaro about reforms to the Resources for Regions program.
As the biggest contributor of mining royalties in NSW, Council’s position is that a reliable sum of funds should be allocated according to the level of mining impact. Mr Barilaro, to his credit, took the time to meet with us personally after another disappointing outcome from our latest Resources for Regions application with a personal commitment that a review would be undertaken. He also delivered on his promise for an alternative funding source to deliver our $8.5 million Roads Upgrade program.
But of course, there are still a number of important issues on our list, not least the Singleton bypass of the New England Highway which has been the subject of regular updates by the Roads and Maritime Authority. And, we hope, to be the subject of another Government announcement, like the one we saw from Mr Toole, soon.