The chairman of the new Central NSW Joint Organisation has said it’s not too late for Lithgow to change their minds and join the group.
The new body had its inaugural meeting at NSW Parliament House last week, where Lachlan Shire mayor John Medcalf was elected as chairman and Blayney mayor Scott Ferguson as his deputy.
Lithgow councillors voted earlier this year not to sign up to the new JO, which will replace Centroc as the peak body in the region to represent councils and present a united front to higher governments.
Their main concern was while Centroc was a voluntary organisation, the JO is state-sanctioned, and much harder to leave if the need arose.
There was also a concern about potential ongoing costs and whether or not the JOs achieved anything not possible as part of existing arrangements.
Mr Medcalf said it was a shame Lithgow, which is the eastern most council area of the JO footprint, had elected not to be involved.
“It is still possible for Lithgow to join. We wouldn’t shut the door on them. It’s sad they decided not to be involved but it wasn’t from a lack of trying on our part,” he said.
“In my opinion it is a decision that will hurt them.
“The government has already provided capital to become a JO and there is the remainder of the money from amalgamations that will flow to JOs so that money will benefit members.”
There are 10 member councils that have elected to be part of the Central NSW JO: Bathurst Regional Council, Blayney Shire Council, Cabonne Council, Cowra Shire Council, Forbes Shire Council, Lachlan Shire Council, Oberon Shire Council, Orange City Council, Parkes Shire Council and Weddin Shire Council.
Central Tablelands Water and the Department of Premier and Cabinet are also associate members.
Mr Medcalf said the new JO would be a strong voice for the region like Centroc, but would be better placed to get results because of stronger links with government.
“The interaction with government will be better. We had eight ministers come through the room [at launch] and speak to us and we think that is a sign of the communication we can expect going forward,” Mr Medcalf said.