Now, for Maitland, this means there is some certainty...Mayor Peter Blackmore
The controversial plan to merge Maitland City Council and Dungog Shire Council is dead in the water.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Tuesday afternoon that council mergers in regional NSW would not go ahead, but the government would press on with its amalgamation agenda in Sydney.
It means merger proposals involving Maitland, Dungog, Port Stephens and Newcastle have been taken off the table.
The announcement ends a long run of uncertainty for ratepayers in the Hunter, with an election for these councils expected in September – a year after voters would otherwise have gone to the polls.
Maitland Mayor Peter Blackmore said his major concern after the announcement was Dungog’s future.
"We are neighbours. Dungog residents shop and work in Maitland and they have been part of our family," he said.
"Will Dungog now be left high and dry?”
Busy with speaking engagements at the time of the merger announcement, Cr Blackmore said he was still trying to take in the news.
"My initial reaction was one of mixed feelings," he said.
"Right from the word go we had fought with the government to say and prove we are fit for the future but we said if we had to merge we would prefer to do it with Dungog. Now, for Maitland, this means there is some certainty and of course we have been and will continue to carry on our role and our works as normal.”
Dungog Mayor Harold Johnston learned about the decision after it was announced through the media.
“At least we have a direction, now we’re going to have to see what that means and how we achieve that,” Cr Johnston said.
“Bearing in mind, this process has been going on since 2011. It’s certainly welcome news.”