Uralla Shire Council mayor Michael Pearce was elected chair of the newly-formed New England Joint Organisation at the group’s first meeting in Moree on Monday.
The New England JO, which comprises of mayoral and general manager representatives from Moree Plains Shire Council, Inverell Shire Council, Narrabri Shire Council, Armidale Regional Council, Uralla Shire Council, Glen Innes Severn Council and Tenterfield Shire Council, was proclaimed by the state government on May 11, 2018.
The group’s first official meeting was held in Moree on Monday, June 25, during which Uralla mayor Michael Pearce was elected chair.
As the only popular-elected mayor among the group, Cr Pearce was the obvious choice for the group’s chair, as he is serving a four-year mayoral term until September 2020 which aligns with the two-year JO chairperson term.
“We’re looking at continuity,” Cr Pearce said.
At Monday’s meeting, the JO established a charter which focuses on infrastructure development, economic development and social issues.
The group will meet again in July to “nut out any kinks’ and then after that Cr Pearce said it’s full steam ahead.
“There’s lots of things to do, we’ll look at the projects we’re aligned with,” he said.
One of the big ticket items the JO plans to investigate is a waste to energy project which has the potential to involve the whole region.
Cr Pearce said the major advantage of the JO is that the member councils are in a better position to lobby the state government for investment opportunities as a group, rather than as individual councils.
“It’s just an advantage for the region; it’s so much easier and better to go in as a team, as a group,” he said.
“If the government wants to speak to us about any related issue, they can speak to seven councils instead of one at a time. It helps having our state member Adam Marshall totally supportive of our group.
“The good thing about this group is there’s no egos. We’re all here for the right reasons.”
Moree mayor Katrina Humphries echoed those sentiments.
“The New England Joint Organisation is a wonderful group that are passionate but respectful,” she said.
“It started off on the right foot with a mutual understanding of each other.
“Whilst all councils are committed to their local communities, they’re also committed to the region.
“I feel it will be a very productive, resource-rich collective of like-minded councils.”
Cr Humphries said it was an honour for Moree to host the first official meeting, particular as Moree Plains Shire Council are the “new kids on the block” after leaving the Namoi JO to join the New England group.