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A big year for council, with much more to come in 2016

Council is an integral part of the fabric of the local community – making decisions that reflect the diversity of our people and planning strategically for future growth and economic stability. Our shared vision for Newcastle 2030 guides the many projects, activities and services we provide throughout the local government area, leading us to become a smart, liveable and sustainable city – a place where people want to live, work, play and raise families.

We are at a critical point in our city’s history and the decisions we make today will shape Newcastle and affect our future. Improved transport networks, revitalisation of the city centre and further growth in the diverse local economy will be key drivers in sustaining our future. Council’s commitment to support the city renewal project Renew Newcastle with $30,000 annually for three years is just one example of how we are working towards supporting the emerging creative industries.

REVITALISED: Nuatali Nelmes at a completed section of the Bathers Way project – the shared pathway linking Newcastle’s seven coastal precincts. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

This Council is committed to bringing the city back to financial stability through our long-term financial plan while protecting local services and community amenitiessuch as pools, parks, libraries and cultural facilities both in the city and suburbs. In addition, we are planning for greater community change through the Wallsend Master Plan, the Foreshore Plan of Management and the Local Planning Strategy.

We also want to capitalise on our city’s unique history, wonderful cultural facilities and burgeoning café culture, which are major attractions to both locals and visitors. Council is committed to retaining Newcastle’s heritage, continuing to support and improve the Regional Art Gallery and Museum and helping people learn more about our history. This year we introduced five new self-guided walking tours that allow people to explore Newcastle’s past and present.

Over the past year we have made tremendous progress on our four priority projects. We have completed major sections ofthe Bathers Way project as well asbeach revitalisation; we opened a new wildlife arena and amenities block at Blackbutt Reserve; our building façade improvement scheme is upgrading80 city businesses and our place activation initiative has delivered popular projects such as Hit The Bricks.

The community came through a traumatic event together this year in the form of the April super storm. So severe was the damage that Newcastle was declared a natural disaster zone, and we are still working to repair the significant amount of damaged infrastructure, which included the loss of 10,000 trees.More than 50,000 people attended the Anzac dawn service at Nobbys to pay their respects to those who fought for our country. Thousands more joined services across the city. My sincere thanks go to the Council staff, the community, RSL sub-branches and local businesses who worked so hard to deliver such moving events, just days after our region had been so devastated.

Last summer Newcastle continued to impress internationally by staging the Asian Cup, the biggest football tournament Australia has ever hosted. Broadcast to approximately 800 million people worldwide, itwas the most watched Asian Cup ever.

Newcastle is clearly experiencing a rebirth, and growth and change always come with challenges and sometimes difficult decisions. Council is committed to a consultative leadership approach so that we face these challenges together and we make decisions with full understanding and consideration of community perspectives.

Cr Nuatali Nelmes is NewcastleLord Mayor

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