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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Singleton bypass still top of mayor’s ‘wish list’

Mayor Sue Moore is hoping to gain a commitment from each of the candidates in next month’s by-election for the seat of Upper Hunter to act on 16 issues outlined in the newest version of the Singleton Advocacy Agenda.

And, topping the list is a better design for the Singleton bypass of the New England Highway – namely a full interchange at Putty Road and dual carriageway.

Other vital wishes include a permanently-increased passenger train timetable between Singleton and Newcastle, and upgrades to police and justice facilities in Singleton.

Following the resignation of Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen last month, at least six contenders are vying for the seat so far, including The Nationals’ David Layzell, Singleton businesswoman Sue Gilroy (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party), former Muswellbrook Shire deputy mayor and coal miner Jeff Drayton (NSW Labor), Muswellbrook Shire councillor Steve Reynolds (Independent), Upper Hunter Shire councillor Sue Abbott (Greens) and Singleton businessman Dale McNamara (One Nation).

So, the promises will be flying left, right and centre in the coming weeks.

The third iteration of the Singleton Advocacy Agenda also seeks an expansion of health services, including an infusion room for chemotherapy and an MRI machine for Singleton Hospital, along with more localised mental health services.

Cr Moore said the document was the centrepiece of a strategic approach to Singleton’s partnerships with all sides of politics at state and federal level.

“Obviously we weren’t planning for a by-election, but this is an important opportunity to raise the issues that are imperative to our community and to reinforce the significance of Singleton to the prosperity of NSW,” she stated.

“As we well know, this is a critical time for our community on a range of fronts.

“Economically, we’re planning for an industry-diverse future to ensure the prosperity of our region.

“Environmentally, we’re pondering questions around energy and power generation.

“And politically, we’re working hard to guarantee grant funding programs such as Resources for Regions.

“We’re also actively lobbying for the services and infrastructure that will have a direct impact on the liveability of our residents now, and which will help to attract more people to our area in the years to come – in particular, the bypass of the New England Highway.

“We’re thrilled the project has been funded by the federal and NSW governments, but we want the best possible outcome for the Hunter region as a whole not just today, but for the decades to come.”

Cr Moore said she would write personally to each of the candidates along with the Premier, Deputy Premier, Opposition Leader and other political parties contesting next month’s by-election for their support for the Advocacy Agenda.

“These are the issues our community told us were critical for our LGA, and that would have the greatest impact for our residents, businesses and visitors,” she added.

“I hope these issues will dominate the conversations that will be happening in the Upper Hunter – and that every candidate will be committed to taking action to deliver on these outcomes.

“Whoever is successful in next month’s by-election, I look forward to continuing the prosperous and successful partnership between Singleton Council and our representative in the NSW Parliament for the benefit of our community.”

Singleton Advocacy Agenda 2021:

  • Amendments to the design for the Singleton bypass of the New England Highway to ensure short and long-term traffic needs are met and the vibrancy of Singleton’s town centre is enhanced;
  • Permanent commitment to increased passenger train services to and from Singleton;
  • Upgrades to police and justice facilities in Singleton and appropriate staffing;
  • Ongoing commitment to Resources for Regions Funding program for mining communities;
  • Ongoing funding of Hunter Joint Organisation;
  • Commitment to accountable and tangible leadership to drive a whole of region approach to economic diversification;
  • Leadership on waste and recycling issues;
  • Upper Hunter water security planning, works and protection of water utility status;
  • Environmental issues associated with power stations and mines;
  • Changes to the cost shifting model imposed by state government;
  • Expansion of health services in Singleton;
  • Commitment to the agriculture industry and improved drought support;
  • Provision of affordable housing;
  • Review of the Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan (LEP) for rural landholders;
  • Simplification of state-delivered grant programs; and
  • Ongoing commitment to and expansion of vocation education programs in Singleton.

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