Maitland mayor responds to Cessnock councillor’s criticism of city
By NICK BIELBY Sept. 27, 2015, 3:41 p.m.
IRE RAISED: Maitland mayor Peter Blackmore says he has little regard for the negative opinions of Cessnock councillor James Ryan.
A Cessnock councillor who called Maitland “the saddest place in the Hunter” should stick to his side of the local government area boundary, the mayor of Maitland says.
Cr James Ryan told Fairfax Media on Saturday that a pro development attitude in Maitland, reliance on cars, a shopping mall culture and a lack of trees had created a planning mess and urban sprawl.
He said this made Maitland the saddest place in the Hunter.
But his comments have raised the ire of Cr Peter Blackmore, who said Cr Ryan should return his focus to issues in the Cessnock local government area.
“Stick to your side of the fence, James, that’s where you were elected,” Cr Blackmore said in response to the comments.
“It’s just another negative comment from James Ryan.
“I don’t worry about comments made by James Ryan.”
Cr Blackmore said Maitland’s growth showed that there was confidence in the region, which would lead to boosts to the local economy and more jobs.
POLLHas Maitland’s growth and development made it a ‘sad place’?
While he acknowledged that not everyone would see development in Maitland in such a positive light, Cr Blackmore said the city needed developers to continue to show confidence in the region.
The Lower Hunter, outside Newcastle, has had one of the highest general and youth unemployment rates in NSW all year.
“I’m quite proud of the fact that we do have growth and our population growth is certainly a reflection of that,” he said.
“Developers have enough confidence to put money into our city.”
Cr Ryan was using Maitland as an example of how he hoped Cessnock would not turn out.
He told Fairfax Media that growth in Maitland had strangled civic life, marginalised the poor and reduced diversity.