Council loses federal funds

A CUT to funds expected from the federal government has arrived as a bitter blow to council.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council revealed last week federal funding expected to arrive this year would be cut by a whopping $200,000, and general manager Tony Hayward was clearly disappointed when he made the announcement at last week’s council meeting.

However he planned to fight for more funding, he said.

Slower population growth than predicted was cited as the main reason for the lower final amount as the grants are partially based on the number of residents in the area.

Council expects to receive $8,895,252 from the federal government through the Financial Assistance Grants scheme this year, $200,000 less than expected.

“The federal assistance grant funding has been cut by $200,000 … the funds were based on population projections and CPI,” Mr Hayward said.

In response to the news, Mr Hayward recommended council ask the Local Government Association – an organisation which fights for federal funds on behalf of local Councils – to push for more money to be sent to the Hastings.

Mr Hayward suggested the LGA lobby the federal government for councils to have direct access to revenue from personal income tax.

“Councils are having difficulty finding ways to apply to the federal government,” he said.

The Port News asked Mr Hayward which projects will suffer funding cuts as a result of the lost grant funding.

Mr Hayward did not respond to the Port News enquiries by our production deadline.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council general manager Tony Hayward

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On your bikes

Designated cycle ways linking the city with its surrounds could become a reality if Maitland councillors vote in support of the concept at the next council meeting.

A comprehensive report that outlines several routes for consideration will be voted on at the next council meeting on August 14.

Mayor of Maitland, Cr Peter Blackmore, said a route between Maitland and Morpeth, and one between Maitland and Walka Water Works, were two suggested routes.

Cr Ray Fairweather unsuccessfully pushed for a shared path between central Maitland and Walka Water Works in 2010.

Cr Blackmore said cycle ways were part of the council’s 2021 strategic plan and general plan.

He said the width of the path was a key factor in any proposal because it had to accommodate cyclists, walkers and parents with prams.

“A lot of parents walk their babies around in strollers and a lot of the strollers are quite wide,” he said.

“There is nothing worse than trying to share a narrow footpath, so we need to accommodate the width according to the users of the path.”

Cr Blackmore said the cost of shared paths varied according to the location and the council would be restricted in the amount of money it could devote to the venture.

“It is costly depending on what kind of cycle way it is and whether or not it is on the road way,” he said.

“We want to provide a safe and enjoyable facility for people and whilst it would be nice to have cycle ways throughout the city the funding will be restrictive.”

Heritage Mall trader Bob Dennerley would like to see bikes available for rent each day at various locations in central Maitland.

He said a bike cluster at Maitland train station and in the mall would bring people into the area and offer an inexpensive way to get around and enjoy the countryside.

Cr Blackmore said he welcomed entrepreneurial proposals.

A decision on cycleways between Maitland and Morpeth and Maitland and Walka is expected at the next sitting of council.

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Parade for Olympic heroes

JAMES Magnussen and his fellow Olympic and Paralympic athletes will be invited toparade through the streets in a special welcome home ceremony planned by council.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council administrator Neil Porter yesterday revealed he had spoken to James Magnussen’s father, Robert, to discuss the swimmer’s part in the ceremony.

Olympic rower Tess Gerrand, paralympic wheelchair rugby player Ryley Batt and paralympic wheelchair tennis player Janel Manns will hopefully join the special celebration, he said.

A welcome home parade for paralympians Tom Kennedy, Paul Hyde and Brad Dubberley and games volunteers after the Sydney Olympics in 2000 was a huge success, Mr Porter added.

This year’s parade will similarly see athletes driven in open convertible cars along Horton Street toward Town Green.

Some CBD streets will be closed for the ceremony and it is likely to be held on a Saturday in late September, Mr Porter said.

The newly-elected mayor will officially welcome home the athletes.

“We’ll try and get a date that suits all of them,” Mr Porter said.

Hundreds of Hastings residents braved the cold to watch Magnussen – known as The Missile – win a silver medal at a live outdoor broadcast of the 100m freestyle final last Thursday.

“If 1000 people get out of bed at 4am I’m sure we’ll get a few thousand to welcome him home,” Mr Porter said.

Hastings rower Tess Gerrand qualified for the final of the women’s eight event and despite her failure to win a medal, many locals will be eager to cheer her efforts competing for Australia.

The London Paralympics begin later this month and wrap-up on September 9.

“I’m quite confident Ryley and Janel will go well, they might even have medals to show us on the day,” Mr Porter said.

“It’s a chance for everyone to welcome them back.”

The final arrangements for the parade will be made by the soon-to-be-elected mayor and councillors.

“I’ll certainly put the planning in place. but by that time the mayor will be able to welcome them back,” Mr Porter said.

Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams watched the nail-biting 100m freestyle final when 21-year-old Magnussen won silver by just one 100th of a second behind the winner.

“James is a remarkable young man who has made himself, his family, his local community and his country extremely proud with his silver medal achievement at the Olympics,” Mrs Williams said.

Magnussen finished the Games with silver and bronze medals.

James Magnussen will be invited to take part in a welcome home parade in Port Macquarie.

Crowds gathered outside the Glasshouse to watch a live broadcast of James Magnussen’s 100m freestyle final last week.

Crowds gathered outside the Glasshouse to watch a live broadcast of James Magnussen’s 100m freestyle final last week.

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Crime writer in line for major fiction award 

Crime writer Barry Maitland has been short listed for the Ned Kelly Awards.

The Maitland author’s book Chelsea Mansions made the cut in the bestfiction section along with Malcolm Knox (The Life) and JC Burke (Pig Boy).

Chelsea Mansions – the 11th book in the Maitland’s popular Brock and Kolla series – is set against a backdrop of London’s Chelsea Flower Show and centres on the inexplicable death of an elderly American woman and a brutal murder.

The Ned Kelly Awards are one of the most prestigious awards in Australia for crime writing.

AUTHOR: Barry Maitland has had a work short listed in the Ned Kelly Awards.

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