Blacktown City Council – COVID-19 restrictions eased

Published on 15 May 2020

Following new directions from the Australian and New South Wales Governments, and acting on the latest health advice, Blacktown City Council is easing some of the restrictions that had been imposed in March to slow the spread of COVID-19.

At the same time, the latest report to Council indicates that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could cost Council up to $24 million over the next 18 months.

Council controlled playgrounds, outdoor gyms, parks, reserves and playing fields are now open for gatherings of up to 10 people, with strict social distancing and personal hygiene measures in place.

However, Council’s leisure centres, administration centre, Art Gallery and libraries remain closed to the public.

Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM said, “Blacktown City has the largest population and the greatest amount of open space of any council area in Sydney.

“Blacktown City has more than 34 square kilometres of accessible open space.

“Residents will now be able to enjoy our vast network of parks, reserves, playing fields and gardens as well as limited access to the courts at the Blacktown Tennis Centre Stanhope, the largest tennis centre of its kind in NSW. 

“Organised team sports are not allowed access to parks and sporting fields, but Council will open the grounds to community sport when the State government allows us to do so.

“I must stress that the virus is still in the community.

“While retail outlets are reopening and limited dining is now available in cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs, we must all act responsibly, maintain social distancing and adhere to the current restrictions.” Mayor Bleasdale said.

Meanwhile, Blacktown City Council received a report this week detailing the impact that COVID-19 is having on Council’s revenue and operations, and how Council proposes to manage the impact over the following 18 months.

The report found that as a consequence of government controls in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Council is facing a reduction in operating revenue up to 30 June this year of more than $6.2 million.

For the 12 months from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, there will be a reduction in revenue of $21 million and over a longer 18-month period the reduction in revenue could reach $24 million.

The report also concluded that the recently announced NSW Government local government stimulus package will only have limited benefit for Council.

Blacktown City Council will likely be ineligible for the NSW Government’s Council Job retention allowance, and funding of $780,000 to cover the annual increase in the Emergency Services Levy had already been announced and factored into the 2020/21 draft budget.

Council is still assessing if the NSW Government’s easing of TCorp local government lending restrictions will be of benefit to Council.

“Council has resolved to adopt an amended borrowing policy and to amend its draft Operational Plan and Long Term Financial Plan to respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Mayor Bleasdale said.

“The funding strategy under the amended policy and plans is to borrow for a 3 year fixed term an amount of $12.7 million to fund some of our capital works program for the 2020/21 financial year.

“The changes to Council’s borrowing policy, operational and financial plans are available on Council’s website, and community comment is welcome.

“These will be difficult times financially for Council. The Reserve Bank predicts the COVID-19 pandemic will be the most dramatic impact on the Australian economy since the Great Depression.

“Council has a duty of care to residents, local businesses and staff to ensure that all necessary actions are being taken, and the right policies and plans are put in place to ensure the health and financial wellbeing of our community.” Mayor Bleasdale said.

From Friday 15 May, the following will be allowed in Blacktown City with strict social distancing maintained:

  • Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people in reserves, parks and playing fields
  • Cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs can seat 10 patrons at any one time and continue to provide takeaway services
  • Up to 5 visitors may visit another household at any one time
  • Weddings can have up to 10 guests plus the celebrant and couple
  • Indoor funerals can have up to 20 mourners and outdoor funerals up to 30
  • religious gatherings and places of worship can have up to 10 worshippers
  • ·outdoor playground and exercise equipment can be used with caution
  • Blacktown Tennis Centre Stanhope – courts booked online 2 people on each court at any one time.

Current closures and restrictions enacted by Blacktown City Council

  • No organised team sports allowed
  • Blacktown leisure centres – closed
  • Blacktown libraries and Leo Kelly Art Gallery – closed, online services available
  • All community and senior citizens centres – closed
  • Blacktown Customer Information Centre - closed
  • Council’s Development services gateway counter – closed
  • DAs can be submitted by email or USB drive
  • Public access to Council’s Administration Centre, Flushcombe Rd, is not allowed
  • Animal Homing Facility, Blacktown – access by phone appointment only
  • Blacktown Council Nursery – closed.
  • Council remains operational, and customer service will be maintained through the online and phone services: 

 

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