Lismore Mayor, Cr Jenny Dowell.
Lismore Mayor, Cr Jenny Dowell. The Northern Star

Dowell heads peak council group

LISMORE Mayor Jenny Dowell is once again president of the Northern Rivers councils' peak body after being elected to the post by the region's mayors.

Cr Dowell replaces former Ballina Mayor Phillip Silver, who retired from Ballina council at the September local government elections, as president of the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils. She had held the post for two one-year terms immediately before Cr Silver's election to the post.

Tweed Mayor Barry Longland was elected the organisation's deputy president.

In the short term, Cr Dowell said NOROC would continue pushing for a Northern Rivers Regional Transport Plan - something which had been set back until late next year while a feasibility study on the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line was completed.

"In the meantime, we'll work on ther things we can work on cooperatively, which are less reliant on other government agencies," she said.

Cr Dowell said it was crucial the regional transport plan look closely at developing public transport links across the Northern Rivers and into South East Queensland.

A transport plan already done for South East Queensland provided a good model the Northern Rivers plan ought to follow.

Cr Dowell said the role of NOROC president had similarities to the role of mayor, in that she acted as spokeswoman for the organisation and had some executive powers between meetings, while having a level of authority not far removed from that of the other mayors.

"I run it (meetings) differently to running them as mayor of our own council," she said. "I don't get involved in debates in council, but I do at NOROC because I have a responsibility to speak on behalf of Lismore."

While debates in council meetings ran on a "for" and "against" structure to balance debate, within NOROC each of the mayors was given a chance to put their view on motions.

Cr Dowell agreed the importance of NOROC was recognised more strongly by the region's councils now than it was a few years ago, when not all Northern Rivers councils chose to be part of the organisation.

She said NOROC was also closely watching other regional organisations of councils to see if there were things they ought to be doing differently.

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