NEWCASTLE and Port Stephens councillors have endorsed plans to shift the boundaries between their wards ahead of the next council election.
Councillors backed a redrawing plan that went to Tuesday's council meeting in Newcastle and drew 28 submissions in more than 40 days of public exhibition.
Several submissions flagged concerns over suburbs divided by the ward boundaries, which decide which representatives voters select for the council. Those demands, many of which centred on Cooks Hill, led to changes that will leave Hamilton and Bar Beach whole and reduce the number of bisected suburbs from 14 to 12.
In Port Stephens, councillors have voted to go ahead with a raft of ward boundary changes after a 28-day period of public exhibition and consultation drew nominal response from the affected communities.
Under the Local Government Act, councils are required to continually monitor the number of electors within each ward and make necessary adjustments in order to ensure an equal balance.
In September, Port Stephens Council exhibited changes brought on primarily due to an increase in population in and around Fern Bay.
Councillors this week adopted a recommendation which to formally move residents from the suburbs of Karuah, Swan Bay, Twelve Mile Creek and Ferodale (east of Medowie Road) from the west to central ward to make up for the population shift. Boat Harbour will remain in central ward.
Documents tabled on Tuesday reveal that as a result of the public exhibition one submission was received, proposing that the suburb of Campvale be transferred from west to central ward. It also revealed that there was no-one in attendance at a community engagement session held at the Karuah Community Centre on October 10.
When contacted for a comment on this absence, outspoken Karuah resident Merv McConnochie admitted to being "a disillusioned cynic when it comes to politics ... so we get differently named cheetahs, their spots are still the same".
The report added: "A direct mail out to the 1881 property owners affected by the changes, which included a fact sheet on how the changes would affect the ratepayers, generated two telephone inquiries."
Councillors Steve Tucker and Chris Doohan requested that the Campvale proposal be considered with any future ward boundary reviews, which would "allow the proposal to be publicly exhibited for broad community input".
The changes are expected to come into effect at the September 2020 local government elections.
- with Matt Carr