Council's new boss says his transition into the top job is an opportunity for residents to take “command of their own destinies”.
Though admitting to the existence of ongoing tension between the communities, new Cootamundra-Gundagai administrator Stephen Sykes said on Thursday the time was right to put aside past grievances and foster harmonious relations by listening to each other.
“There’s a bit of an opportunity here,” he said.
“I’m not denying that there’s tension because there has been tension, but there’s an opportunity that arises in that you can perhaps get some things for the community that you may otherwise have been unable to obtain.”
Mr Sykes also scuttled any potential of a future de-merger whilst pledging to prioritise community engagement and consultation ahead of his first week in office.
He emphasised the importance of reconnecting residents with local governance and stated his intention to improve these community liaisons with immediate effect.
“The merger isn’t going to disappear, there isn’t going to be a de-merger and my task is delivering a good organisation,” Mr Sykes said.
“Frankly, we’re a long way down the road from that now and it’s something we need to be moving on with.
“I don’t think there’s any point in doing anything other than what we need to do and that is to deliver a really good organisation to a newly elected council.”
Mr Sykes said his main priority was to improve community-council liaisons through effective listening and active engagement.
“I’ve spent time talking to key players and stakeholders and getting a sense of their issues and priorities and that’s given me an understanding of the critical issues facing the region,” he said.
Mr Sykes said these communications ranged from increasing face-to-face engagement with local businesses to developing digital communities through which residents can raise issues and concerns directly to the council.