Wollongong City Council, elected on September 3, has so far made several decisions that reflect community will in the area. This is a refreshing change from the years of corruption scandals that rocked the last elected council and the four-year unelected administration that followed it.
All 13 councillors, including four Liberal, four Labor, three independent and two Green, are under immense pressure to deliver outcomes for the community. Key election issues included democracy, transparency and accountability.
On October 10, council resolved unanimously to scrap an unpopular development plan at Bald Hill in the northern Illawarra, urged the NSW government to rule out coal seam gas (CSG) mining in the region's water catchments, and said it will work with state and federal governments to purchase and protect 586 hectares of environmentally significant escarpment land at Maddens Plains.
The meeting also resolved, with the four Liberal councillors voting against, to work to protect the Dharawal State Conservation Park from any activity that could adversely affect its ecological integrity.
On October 31, council resolved unanimously to ask the Southern Councils Group and other local councils in the water supply catchment area to urge the NSW government to rule out CSG in the catchments.
It also voted to canvass private and public sector partners to fund free WiFi in Wollongong Mall, to reinforce its opposition to deeply unpopular Calderwood residential development and to join the legal case against the Cringila dump.
The council’s decision to join the Cringila dump case is a response to overwhelming local community opposition to the dump proposal.
Council also unanimously resolved to establish an Environment and Sustainability Reference Group and a Bicycle, Pedestrian and Public Transport Reference Group, for “promoting cycling, walking and public transport for improved health and environmental outcomes”.