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For seven years as one of your representatives on Hawkesbury Council, I have sought to keep you engaged about the issues that concern and affect you .

I'm the only one of your twelve Councillors who tries to keep you updated in this way. I am a local schoolteacher by vocation, so I consider it one of my core responsibilities to inform you and keep you up-to-date.

I hope you appreciate this update covering events since my last newsletter. If you don't already follow me on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram, please consider following me for more regular news – You're missing out!

Nathan Zamprogno Signature Transparent
Councillor Nathan Zamprogno

Latest Council News

The Heart of the Hawkesbury on show in unique documentary video


After the triple disasters of bushfire, pandemic and floods that struck our district, small State and Federal grants have allowed a range of Hawkesbury community groups to get back on their feet.

The result was the "Bright Ideas to Build Resilience" project and recently I joined many of the recipients for the launch of a powerful video telling their stories.

There were real tears shed as we listened to Pitt Town & District Sip & Stitch, the Wilberforce Soccer club, PCYC Hawkesbury, Rotary Club of Kurrajong North Richmond Inc, The Colo Heights Tennis Club, the Macdonald Valley Association, the Upper Colo Association, the Colo Heights Progress Association, the Hawkesbury Woodcraft Co-operative, the Ferry Artists Gallery At Wisemans Ferry, Music at St Albans, and the St Albans Village Market.

Just being heard and seen is itself a form of catharsis, and it makes me very proud when judicious spending like this does real good to build communities. The grants and video project were co-ordinated by the amazing Tracey Greenaway and her team from Hawkesbury Council, Esther Perry from Wentworth Healthcare and PHN Nepean Blue Mountains, and the excellent media skills of Joel Brown from Capture Later Creative.
Some of the community groups represented.
Some of the community groups represented.

The Windsor Paddlesports Club Grant saved after hanging by a thread!


Due to inaction by Council, a $801,218 grant secured to build a clubhouse in Macquarie Park (on the river opposite the Terrace in Windsor) for Paddlesports and Dragon boating was hanging by a thread.

In July 2020, Robyn Preston MP announced a generous grant on behalf of the Coalition Government through the NSW Sports Council. It took years of applications made by Windsor Paddlesports Club Inc. to secure a grant for a flood-resilient building that would provide watercraft storage, change room facilities, amenities and a kitchen. The grant was made in conjunction with partner groups like the Pink Finss Charity and the Pendragons Dragon Boat Club (who need to travel to Penrith or even Lithgow to scratch their itch). Imagine how it would adorn our river to have dragon boating visible from the Terrace!

The DA was lodged and duly passed. Both Labor Mayor Barry Calvert and Liberal Mayor Patrick Conolly appeared for photo opportunities to extol the benefits of the new facility. Necessary steps to progress the project were to grant landowner consent (Council + Crown Lands’ responsibility) and for the works to ‘commence’ – crucial for ensuring the deadline of the DA would not lapse.
Hawkesbury Mayor Barry Calvert appears for a photo-op
Hawkesbury Liberal Payor Patrick Conolly appears for a photo-op
Hawkesbury Labor Mayor Barry Calvert and Liberal Mayor Patrick Conolly both appeared for photo-ops to promote the grant and the facility it would build.
The club held a groundbreaking ceremony in May 2022 where our State MP did not mince words, congratulating them for getting “shovels in the ground” at the “commencement of construction”. In reality, Council forbade the club from doing anything more than survey and peg out the site. They were told to wait for the ‘Plan of Management’ of the Park, which arrived in the Chamber at our August meeting.

Worse, it appeared Council wanted to argue about whether ‘commencement’ had truly occurred, when the DA was set to expire the day after the meeting, Wednesday 9th August. The clock had been run out. The grant was due to expire in a matter of days, and my fear was that the new State Labor Government are looking for excuses to squash grants issued by their predecessors.

When I raised this concern in the Chamber at the meeting, everyone saw the risks of having to lodge a brand new DA or to give the State Government any excuse to withdraw the funding. Representatives from the club told us at the meeting that despite repeated requests and obvious urgency, 'landowner consent' from Crown Lands / Council had still not been given. I was of the view that Council has failed the community. If you watch the video linked above you can hear how disappointed the club is at their dealings with Council.

There was, however, some good news in the week following the meeting, but only because we kicked up a stink.

Upon leaving the Liberal Party

Upon leaving the Liberal Party
PDF version of this statement

For those who only kind-of know me, I'm the guy who got elected to Hawkesbury Council as a Liberal in 2016, and then got re-elected as an Independent in 2021.

Given that I remained a member of the Liberal Party, that spawned a lot of completely legitimate questions like "Well, how independent are you, really?"

The explanation for my move, involving factional Liberal games, the take-over of the local Liberal Party by developers and those who take their money, and my desire to be free to make principled stands on key issues, may bore you.

But for those of you who care, I need to announce that I'm out. Our Mayor Sarah McMahon has bullied me out of the Liberal Party, despite 32 years of membership and service.

In an area that largely votes Liberal, I'm proud to own my political leanings.I've earned respect as someone who works with people across the political spectrum and who works really hard as a Councillor.

I suspect that the details of what has happened may shock you, but if you're interested, it's all in the announcement I make public today. What has happened raises important questions about integrity.

I would rather be focused on the issues that I was elected to fix; our road network, keeping your Council rates fair and in helping to plan for our city's future.

But I am troubled that the evidence tendered by Clr McMahon as justifications for my expulsion from the Party included statements I have made in the Chamber and elsewhere about planning matters before Council, where Councillors should enjoy a free vote to judge matters on their merits, without threat of punishment. This includes the Seniors Living Development in Vincents Road at Kurrajong, a Planning Proposal brought to the chamber by McMahon's developer boyfriend Matthew Bennett and his family. Clr McMahon had already declared a significant pecuniary interest in that matter, and she and two other Liberals recused themselves with declared conflicts of interest when it came to the Chamber.

(This is a shortened version of my statement. For those who are interested, read the full statement using the link).

Should development be allowed on our floodplain?

Should development be allowed on our floodplain?
My short answer is "no", if we're talking about new housing development. However, this is a complicated issue that we need to think carefully about.

Two stories appearing recently in the media criticise Hawkesbury Council for approving DA’s on flood-prone land.

I have been flagging concerns over the statistical inevitability of another serious flood for a decade before my election to Council in 2016.

My support for raising Warragamba dam has always been paired with a demand for more stringent controls on floodplain development. There is no value in capital works for mitigation if we succumb to the temptation to lower the 1:100 limit or intensify urbanisation in areas subject to flood or flood evacuation risk.

The current ‘1:100’ dwelling-height limit of 17.3m at Windsor was introduced in the 1980s. 5000 dwellings already lay along the floodplain below that limit. They were built before flood-height controls existed. Some are in the most historic areas of Windsor and Pitt Town. Others lay low along the river at locations now perceived by everyone (including insurers) as high-risk, like caravan parks.
North Street in Windsor is home to some of the most historic houses in Windsor, but it lays below the '1:100' flood limit.
North Street in Windsor is home to some of the most historic houses in the district, but it lays below the '1:100' flood limit.

In my opinion the new State government have abandoned Hawkesbury residents by failing to declare what mitigation measures they intend to fund now raising Warragamba has been ruled out – the second such time Labor has done so since 1996. The NSW Premier Chris Minns has even refused to visit the Hawkesbury to explain when and how he will fulfil pre-election promises on measures like levees, and Hawkesbury's Labor candidate Amanda Kotlash even voted against a motion brought by the Mayor to ask the Premier to visit, which is crazy!

It remains undisputed that if the dam had been raised already, 80% of the 600+ dwellings that were inundated in the recent floods would have been spared completely owing to the flood-peak being 3.4 – 5.3m lower (p66 of the report). If alternative strategies can’t confer the same or better degree of mitigation, they should admit it and return to raising Warragamba Dam as the best option.
(p68) The blue column shows the level of reduction of buildings affected if Warragamba Dam had already been raised before the March 2021 flood. 75% or more of the damaged houses could have been saved.
In the above graph, the blue column represents the % of houses that would have been saved in our recent floods, had the Dam already been raised. (Source)

VIEW Club – a worthy local voluntary organisation

VIEW Club – a worthy local voluntary organisation

If you want to know why I'm such a community-oriented person, just look at my Mum, Helen. She's been a 'do-er' all her life and for 13 years she's also had an association with The Richmond/ Windsor View Club, part of the leading women's national volunteer organisation. VIEW provides an opportunity for women from all walks of life to meet regularly, establish lasting friendships and help disadvantaged Australian children through supporting the work of children’s charity, The Smith Family.

Recently, Mum screwed up the courage to be interviewed by Kathryn Gene from Pulse 89.9FM Radio, and did so well she may want my job!

VIEW are a very worthy organisation and they are keen for new members. The local Richmond-Windsor Chapter meet on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at the Richmond Club.

Contact Trish Carter on 0417 010 619 or email richmondwindsor.viewclub@gmail.com to get involved.

Fix the bloody potholes!

Fix the bloody potholes!

An essential part of every local Councillor's job is to listen to local residents when they flag roads in need of repair. After locals in the suburbs of Oakville, Maraylya and Vineyard raised concerns with me about roads in need of attention, I went around on a cold Saturday to document them for myself.

I raised these with Council staff for action, and got results quickly (click the link below to find out).

It is clear to me that the State and Federal Government's funding model to oblige Councils to repair roads is broken, something recently exposed in this story in the SMH.

Bega and Wollondilly from that article share some of our characteristics. They maintain huge road networks, many of them unsealed. Bega says "[the funding model does] not adequately differentiate the vast difference in cost inputs of metropolitan councils and those in regional and rural areas managing high-cost and extremely vast road networks"

Wollondilly says "storms, floods and bushfires in the area between 2020 and 2022 have caused widespread significant road failures, a consequence of long-term chronic under-funding leading to poor asset management". We're in the same boat. I get regularly asked if we can get some dirt roads sealed. In many cases, it makes clear sense, as the cost of eternally grading dirt roads adds up. But there's no money to do it. It took me five years of pleading to get a couple of hundred meters sealed at Vineyard.

Council issues regular newsletters listing all road repair and improvement projects.

You can report potholes and other hazards at Council's website at this address. In the video I talk about recent funding announcements for roads, and Council's Customer Service responsiveness standards for road maintenance.

Windsor Mall - Our obligation to get things right

Windsor Mall - Our obligation to get things right
With founders of the Windsor Experience Action Group (L-R), former Mayor Wendy Sledge, Gai Kelly and Darren Pead.

I have been raising concerns about the state of Windsor Mall for some time, including interviewing Darren Pead as a representative of the newly created 'Windsor Experience Action Group'.

In March 2018 Council became a signatory to the Western Sydney City Deal and were pledged $15M of State+Federal money towards ‘Liveability’ programs including town centre renewals if we brought $3.75M of our own money to the table. It was and is a good deal.

Sadly, the quality of the public consultation and proposed outcomes from upgrading Windsor Mall have left many, including myself and Councillors Sheather and Djuric, with concerns that we’ve missed the mark. I coined the term “Westfield-isation” to describe a plan that was not reflective enough of the unique heritage of Windsor. Early iterations of the plan dispensed with the gas lamps, rotunda, water-wheel and suggested street furniture with little charm or grace.
A hilarious early rendering of how the Windsor Mall renewal could have looked. No thanks.

The area covered by the plans stretches from the Thompson Square dining area all the way to the railway station. This is a once-in-a generation opportunity and we need to get it right. Windsor deserved better.

Too much of the budget was consumed with replacing paving – and although some parts of the paving badly need attention, the opportunity cost was an ability to spread the budget down George Street, replace awful asphalt paving elsewhere, and add gracenotes to the precinct such as historical medallions, restoration of the lamps, and street furniture that better reflect our heritage.
The design group came back with a plan for the mall that included bland street furniture and was tin-eared about the unique heritage of the precinct.

To revisit the plans carried a risk. The grant has a deadline and to ask for variations means the deadline may pass. However, our Federal MP Susan Templeman has spoken about this in parliament and my gut told me that asking for time to get this right will yield the concessions we are asking for.

I supported a motion Clr Sheather brought to revisit our plans and I am happy to report it passed, and Council staff also advise the funding remains secure – if we brook no further delay.

Recently I was pleased to meet with Windsor business owners Darren Pead, Gae Kelly and former Mayor Wendy Sledge to discuss these matters. The Windsor Experience Action Group now boasts 69 members.

Road and Bridge Repairs around the Hawkesbury

A huge amount of upgrades to community infrastructure is going on around the district. Some of these projects have been multi-million dollar engineering challenges arising from the terrible floods we've had since 2020.
Council maintains a list of all the road and bridge repair projects underway at Council's website.

Greens Road, Lower Portland

The devastating floods of March and July 2021 washed whole sections of Greens Road at Lower Portland into the Hawkesbury River, isolating hundreds of residents.

The $15M job of repairing 715m of road in two sections was a huge engineering challenge, involving stabilising and piling the bank to depths of 8m, improving drainage and replacing the road surface. It was funded by State and Federal Disaster Relief grants and managed by Council and its contractor Delaney Civil. Gerry from Delaney is a local and spoke movingly about their commitment to getting people connected again when I joined my colleagues to re-open the road on July 23rd.

The patience, resilience and advocacy of our river communities is something to be respected and celebrated. Here is Council's video of the opening celebrations.

The New Upper Colo Bridge

On July 2nd, the Colo community gathered to celebrate a historic event — the opening of the new Upper Colo Bridge.

The previous timber bridge was built in 1936 and sadly lost in the floods of March 2021. The construction of the new bridge was interrupted by further floods in 2022. The new concrete bridge will have a longer life and is slightly higher than its predecessor. Timbers from the old bridge have been incorporated into the surrounds as a reflection of its history. We were lucky to have Colo locals present, the Wards and the Duffys who were present at the opening of the old bridge, or whose family were part of its construction.

Thanks are due to Council staff and to the patience of the Colo community for this long hoped-for renewal of our local infrastructure.The rebuild was a $3.4m project and was possible due to disaster relief funding provided by the NSW and Federal governments.
Here is Council's video of the opening celebrations.

Hawkesbury River County Council marks 75 years of service to the environment

As a former chairman of the Hawkesbury River County Council I was very pleased to attend their 75th anniversary celebrations at their premises at South Windsor on August 26th.

Many people don’t appreciate what the HRCC is or does. It’s a four-Council grouping that looks after weed control and waterway health along the River and it’s tributaries. It’s role in biosecurity is crucial to our environmental protection.

What it does is an unalloyed good. It has an excellent and efficient governance model and our Council gets far more out of the partnership than it costs us to be members. We planted a 75th anniversary tree on-site next to the 50th Anniversary cedar which has grown to a height despite being struck by lightning some years ago.
We like that as it’s a symbol of the resilience of our community in the face of nature’s wrath.
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