What's On

Kids ask the Questions

Many thanks to the Stage 2 Students at Cessnock West Public School for these Questions.

Questions about animals answered by our Head Ranger

Where do the animals come from?

The Animals are all from within the Local Government Area, Cessnock, Kurri Kurri, Branxton, Wollombi, Mulbring and Nulkaba (plus others). They are collected by the rangers, some surrendered and others have been found wandering the streets lost.

What do you do with the animals?

  • Firstly try and reunite them with their owners.
  • If we can not locate an owner we have to take them to the RSPCA.

What if they are vicious, what do you do with them?

The rangers have special safety equipment to use if an animal is aggressive towards them.

How many helpers do you have?

We have 5 Rangers
1 Team Leader Ranger and
2 Ranger Administration

How many animals do you have?

I personally have 1 Male Golden Labrador called Maverick he is 3 years old and he is a bit chubby.

Why are animals  put down?

In most cases Animal Shelters and Animal Pounds around the world have to euthanse because of one simple reason.

Too many animals not enough homes.

The RSPCA encourages all owners to desex their pets to prevent unwanted litters of cats and dogs coming through the local Animal Shelters.

Euthanasia is used commonly for this reason.

Euthanasia is also used in cases where the animal is too sick or severely injured, or because the animal is too young or the animal is aggressive and not suitable to be re-homed.

How do you know who owns the pet?

By the animals microchip details and or ID on the animal’s collar or ID tag.

It is important that you place a collar and tag on your cat/ dog to ensure that he is return home to you. Also it is important that you up date the microchip details in your correct address.

If you have moved or changed phone details lately you should up date the details. This will ensure the ranger can contact you if your animal is lost.

It is law for your dog/ cat to wear a collar and id tags. Failure to place a name tag on you dog/ cat renders you liable to a fine of $275.00.

What do you do if it doesn’t have a microchip?

If the animal is not able to be identified, by way of microchip or collar/ tags the rangers legally have to take the animal to the RSPCA.

It is the law to have your companion animal microchipped by 12 weeks of age or at point of sale / giveaway. Failure to microchip your dog/ cat renders you liable to a fine of $275.00. 

We also run a free microchipping day every year when you can get your pet microchipped for free. On the day there are often other fun activities going on too.


Questions about Council Gardens answered by the Recreation Manager

What do you do when the plants die?

We usually pull them out and replace them.

Who knows what they need to know about the plants?

We have some people who need to be qualified such as Team Leaders and they need to have a TAFE certificate in horticulture to be a gardener.

Who are the gardeners?

Brian, Lyall and Steve.

Where do you get seeds from?

We don't sow the seeds; we buy the plants from a big nursery.

Which plants do they care for?

Most of the plants in the CBD areas, some roundabouts and parklands, like Margaret Street Park, TAFE Park and Veteran's Memorial Park at Aberdare.

How many plants / gardens / parks are in Cessnock City Council area?

There are 52 parks in the area and there are about 48 gardens and this includes road closures (dead end streets where a garden forms the barrier or dead end...), median strips like Victoria Street, Kurri Kurri or Greta Median strip, gardens in parks, and gardens in the main streets of Kurri Kurri (Lang Street) and Cessnock (Vincent Street). There would be thousands of plants all together. 

How do you build the play areas?

Council designs new play areas and often asks the community for their input via public exhibition of proposals. Council doesn't usually build playgrounds as it's a speciality area and we usually pay a playground contractor to build them for us. 

Who fixes gardens when they have been trodden on?

The gardeners and parks maintenance staff.

Who makes them?

Council staff, property developers or the Roads and Traffic Authority make gardens depending on where they are located.

How many new ones are made each year?

On average between 1 and 3.

Where do you get the equipment from?

Tools come from the Cessnock City Council store at the works depot, materials might come from local landscapers, woodchip may come from Council from when we cut and trim trees and mulch the branches and plants usually come from a big nursery in Sydney.

Where do you grow the plants?

Council doesn't grow many plants, we usually buy them in. We do have some stored in our nursery at the works depot on Old Maitland Road (on the way to the waste depot).

How do you look after them?

They are watered daily by an automated irrigation system and we fertilise them every 3 months or so.

What kind of plants do you use?

A mixture of native and exotic (not from Australia) plants and they can be ground covers, shrubs or trees, depending on the location.

Do you plant the plants anywhere?

No not anywhere, just in specified locations such as newly established gardens.

What happens when someone steals the plants?

Usually we replace them.

What happens when they get too much water?

They usually die.

Questions about Council Roads answered by the Infrastructure Managers

How do you make the roads?

We make roads by taking off the soft dirt on top and replacing it with road building material that will support all the cars, buses and trucks that will travel on it. We then put tar on the road building material to provide a hard surface and prevent water getting into the road building material.

How do you fix the roads?

The roads can get potholes, normally when it rains and the water gets into the road building material, making it soft. We fix the potholes by putting in new material initially, to stop possible accidents and car damage. We may come back later and do more work to get rid of the potholes altogether if necessary.

How do you know where the potholes are to fix them?

We do regular inspections of all the roads and make a list of all the potholes we see and then fix them. We also have members of the public ring us and tell us of potholes in their streets as well.

Why are the roads built?

Roads are built to allow safe and easy passage of motor vehicles. Without constructed roads, motor vehicles will become bogged or damaged while trying to drive across the country side. Even in Roman days when they used horse and cart, roads were built to allow them to travel faster with heavier loads and because the horses found it easier to pull the carts, they could also travel further in a day.

What do you need to build a road?

We need road building material to replace the soft dirt we dig out and tar to seal over the top. We also need a lot of resources such as workmen to control the traffic, machinery to dig out the soft material and replace it, this machinery is usually backhoes, trucks, graders and rollers to compact the road building material prior to putting on tar.

Tar – how much do you need?

The amount of tar is different for each job. It is only a thin layer over the road building material and then we put stones over the hot tar

How many roads do we have in Cessnock City Council?

There are three kinds of Roads in our Council - State, Regional and Local.

Council own about 900km of Local and Regional roads, of which 300km are gravel and 600km are tar.

The RTA own about 39km of State Roads, all of which are tar.

How long does it take to make a road?

To make a new road approximately 100m long and 6 metres wide would take approximately 6 weeks.

Who fixes the potholes?

Council staff usually fixes the potholes by shovelling repair material out of a truck. Bigger repairs may be done by a contract person who has bigger machines that Council employs.

Who decides if it is a dead end or a through road?

The RTA and Council will decide for their own roads, but will discuss this decision with local residents, the Police and each other.

How many new roads each year?

Council doesn't spend too much money building new roads - Council spends most of its road money maintaining and improving existing roads. Most new roads are built by business men who develop new suburbs for people to live in. The business men give these new roads to Council to look after once people start to live in the new suburbs

Questions about Waste in Cessnock answered by the Environment and Waste Manager

Who collects the waste?

Council collects the general waste, using 4 collection trucks, and Solo Resource Recovery collects the Recycling and Garden Organics bins, using their own collection trucks.

What do you collect?

  • General waste
  • paper, cardboard, glass, metals, plastics as recyclables in the yellow lid bin
  • Garden organincs such as lawn clippings, prunnings, weeds, etc. in the lime green lid bin
  • There is also a free drop-off at the tip for electronic waste (eWaste) for old computers, printers, mobile phones etc..... (more info

How much is collected?

  • Council receives about 40,000T of waste each year for landfill at the Cessnock Waste & Recycling site
  • Around 18,000T is collected each year from the household kerbside collection provided by Council. The kerbside collection is carried out Monday - Friday to approx 19,500 residents via 4 collection trucks.
  • We also collect approx 4,200T each year through the household kerbside recycling collection and 6,000T each year through the kerbside garden organics service.

Where does it go?

  • The 40,000T of waste collected each year is destined for landfill at the Cessnock Waste & Recycling site.
  • The 4,200T of household recycling collected each year is sorted at a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) located on the Central Coast. The materials collected are then sold to various markets to produce new products.
  • The 6,000T if garden organics are reprocessed by ANL into a variety or mulches and soil conditioners and resold to residential and agricultural users across the state.

How many trucks do you have?

Council owns 4  collection trucks. The Recycling and Garden Organics trucks are owned and provided by Solo Resource Recovery.

How can we reduce our waste?

  • A simple way of reducing the amount of your waste is to put recyclable products into the yellow lid recycling bin and garden organics in the lime green lid bin.
  • To reduce the amount of electronic products put into your bins, you can drop them off at the Waste and Reuse Centre’s E-Waste drop off facility.
  • You can further reduce your waste by purchasing a Compost Bin and/or Worm Farm. You can put your garden waste (Grass Clippings) and food waste (Fruits and Vegetables) into the Compost Bin or Worm Farm. The Council is offering a half-price deal on Compost Bins and Worm Farms. More Info on: Don't Waste your Organics.
  • Simple ways to reduce our food waste ican be found at Love Food Hate Waste.

Questions about Sports Centres answered by the Senior Recreation Officer

How do you pay for the buildings?

Council buildings such as sporting amenity buildings are funded via a combination of Council funds and grant funds. For example the amenities building being constructed at Miller Park, Branxton is funded via grant funds from the NSW Department Sport and Recreation, Federal Government funding via the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program and Council funds

Where does the equipment come from?

Sports Equipment is provided by a number of suppliers. For Example the new sports equipment (backboards, soccer goals, volley ball nets and posts etc) provided as part of the Basketball Centre redevelopment was provided from RMA sport who are a supplier based in Queensland.

How are the building made?

Where possible Council uses local contractors (concreters, carpenters, electricians etc) when building new facilities. Often Council Officers will complete building projects depending on the scope of works, e.g. Council completed the works at Cessnock Basketball Stadium, now called Cessnock Civic Indoor Sports Centre, whereas contractors completed the new Cessnock Performing Arts Centre.

How many people each day and each year?

This varies between Council facilities but the majority of Councils sporting facilities are utilised 7 days a week. Generally, sporting groups utilise Council facilities Monday to Fridays for training activities and on Saturday and Sunday for Club competition. Council sporting facilities are also often utilised during weekdays for school sport and passive recreation. On average a facility like Turner Park on Aberdare Road, Cessnock would get approximately 30,000 visits a year.

What activities do you do there?

This also varies but can include soccer, cricket, rugby league, rugby union, little athletics, touch football, croquet, netball, tennis etc


Every year Council develops a Recreation Budget which guides Council in regards to the works that need to be completed each year. Every project within the Recreation Budget has a dollar amount allocated towards it which Council Officers need to adhere to.

What happens when stuff is knocked down – like the basketball centre?

In the case of the Cessnock Civic Indoor Sports Centre building plans were drawn up by an architect before the front part of the building was demolished. These plans then provided direction to Council in regards to what the redevelopment of the front of the centre would look like. In this case the ageing foyer was replaced with a large community meeting room, a new kiosk, additional storage, a meeting room and a referee's room/first aid room.

How many visit each day / each year?

For a centre like Cessnock Civic Indoor Sports Centre you could be looking at up to 100 people per day, taking into consideration indoor netball competitions, basketball, soccer as well as volleyball. This equates to over 35,000 people a year

Questions to the City Planners answered by a Senior Planner

How big does the land have to be to build a house?

You can put a house on a 200m2 lot, however, you will need to see a draftsperson, architect or housing company to provide plans due to the small size of the allotment. Most lots have a minimum of 450m2.

What do you do?

You will need to see a draftsperson, architect or housing company to draw up plans. You will then need to lodge a development application with Council for consideration. If the house is two-storey the adjoining owners will need to be notified as there may be issues of privacy, overshadowing, overlooking and the like. When approval is granted you need to get approval to construct the dwelling, this can be done at the same time as the development application. Once you have this approval you can start construction. During the construction process there are several inspections that need to be undertaken.

Size of the land for a house – 1m off the boundary?

Setbacks required for a house?

For residential land the setback for a dwelling are: -

  • Front - 6m or a variation can be asked if the existing setbacks in the street are less than 6m.
  • Side - 900mm, if a corner lot 4m is required
  • Rear - 900mm

Does one person or all on the council to make the decisions?

If the proposal complies with all of the requirements the assessing officer can approve the dwelling under delegation, if there are variations or public submissions the either the Development Assessment Unit (which comprises of 2 planning coordinators & 1 building coordinator), or the Development Services Manager or the Council (which comprises the Mayor and 12 Councillors). These approvals depend on the proposed variation, the number of public submissions and the type of public submission.

How many new homes / shops each year?

This information should be obtainable for the Bureau of Statistics which may be held at the library

How many town planners are there?

Development Services Planners - 1 manager, 2 coordinators, 4 seniors, 2 development, 1 trainee

Strategic Planners - 1 manager, 1 senior, 1 strategic

Note: - Building inspections assess residential dwellings and planners assess rural dwellings. Building inspectors inspect the construction process. The building team comprises 1 manager, 5 seniors, 1 graduate, 2 trainees

Questions about the Mayor and Councillors answered by the Mayor's Personal Assistant

How do you become the Mayor or a Councillor?

The Mayor and Councillors are elected by the residents of the Local Government Area who are aged 18 years and over and have lived in the area for the three months before the date of the election.

Firstly anyone who wants to be Mayor or a Councillor has to be nominated by at least two other people. A person who wants to be elected onto Council is called a candidate. Candidates must try to convince voters that he or she would be the best person to represent them and they tell the voters the things they would do if they were elected. This is called campaigning.

Election Day is when people vote for the candidate they want to represent them on Council.

Voting is compulsory in NSW and you will be fined if you do not vote. Voting is how people can have a say in how their community changes and grows. In NSW, Local Government elections are held every four years.

On Election Day, all residents who are on the Electoral Roll go to polling booths to cast their vote.

Polling booths are usually places like schools, halls, recreation and civic centres. Polling booths are open between 8.00am and 6.00pm on Election Day.

The electoral staff that are at the polling booths on Election Day include:


This officer is responsible for making sure the Local Government election in their city, town or shire goes ahead according to the rules and without any problems.


There are usually two or more of these officers at each polling place.

These officers mark people’s names off the roll when they come to vote and check that the voting is carried out within the rules. Poll clerks and electoral officers remain to count the votes after the polling booths close.

When arriving to cast your vote there are people outside the polling booth handing out the candidates’ “how to vote” cards. Scrutineers are appointed by the candidates and are allowed into the polling booth throughout the day and at the close of the poll at 6.00pm to ensure the counting of votes is conducted in a proper manner.

Why do we need a Mayor?

The Mayor is the leader of the Council. The job of Mayor is to take charge at Council meetings and to represent the Council on formal occasions. There is more information about what the Mayor does in the answers below.

What does the Mayor do?

The Mayor is elected to represent the residents of the whole of the Local Government Area. Councillors are elected to a particular Ward and represent the residents within that Ward.

The Mayor of the Cessnock City Council has an important role in addition to the role of Councillor.

The Mayor’s role is to:

  • exercise, in cases of necessity, the policy-making functions of the governing body of the Council between Council meetings;
  • exercise such other functions of the Council as the Council determines;
  • preside at meetings of the Council;
  • carry out the civic and ceremonial functions of the Mayoral office; and
  • ensure that decisions of the Council are carried out

The Mayor of Cessnock City Council is Councillor Bob Pynsent.

Councillor Pynsent in his role as Mayor of the City of Cessnock is a member of numerous Council Committees.

The Mayor of Cessnock City Council is popularly elected by the people. The term of office of the Mayor is four years, with an election being held in the month of September every fourth year.

The Mayor is available for appointments with staff and the public, and appointments can be made through the Mayor’s Personal Assistant. Staff members make appointments to discuss matters such as Development or Building Applications, or the needs of ratepayers. Representatives of Government bodies such as the Roads & Traffic Authority may wish to discuss local issues with the Mayor.

Citizens who have a particular problem or need will also arrange appointments to discuss these matters with the Mayor.

The Mayor is often called upon to speak to organisations about Council activities and plans for the future for the City, to present prizes and awards, to welcome or farewell people associated with the area, or to preside at public, general or annual meetings.

Throughout the year the Mayor presides over civic functions. These functions include

Civic Receptions, Freeman of the City events, the Mayoral Academic Challenge, the Mayoral Academic Scholarships and many other events associated with the Mayor's office. The Mayoral Academic Challenge, Mayoral Scholarships and the Christmas Carols are events which are sponsored by business organisations for the residents of the Cessnock Local Government Area.

On Australia Day, 26 January each year, a large gathering of residents attend the Australia Day Ceremony which includes a Naturalisation Ceremony to welcome and congratulate our new citizens and the recipients of our Australia Day Awards. This event also includes musical entertainment performed by local artists.

How much does the Mayor get paid?

The Mayor receives an annual payment of $48,540.

What does a Councillor do?

A Councillor’s role is to:

  • direct and control the affairs of the Council in accordance with the Local Government Act;
  • participate in the best allocation of the Council’s resources for the benefit of the City;
  • review the Council’s policies and objectives;
  • monitor the performance of the Council and its delivery of services;
  • review the performance of the Council and the delivery of its services, management plans and revenue policies;
  • represent the interests of residents and ratepayers;
  • provide leadership and guidance to the community; and
  • facilitate communication between the community and Council.

A Councillor’s week is very busy. During most weeks of the year, there are sub-committee meetings, briefings or Council Meetings to attend.

Councillors have a number of roles and interests and are involved in many organisations and committees. An example of these committees include: Access Advisory Committee, Council Initiated Awards Committee, Cultural Planning and Development Committee, Finance/Rating Strategy Committee, Floodplain Management Committee, Kurri Kurri Aquatic Centre Committee, Major Projects Committee, Policies Review Committee, Traffic Committee, Vineyards District Advisory Committee, Vineyard Signs Review Committee and Planning Review Committee.

Councillors can be nominated by Council as representatives on various external committees. Examples of those committees include: Austar Coal Mine Community Consultative Committee, Bushfire Brigades Advisory Committee, Cessnock/Maitland Bushfire Management Committee, Public Libraries NSW Country, Hunter Councils, Newcastle Road Freight Advisory Group, Hydro Aluminium Liaison Committee, Hunter Zone RFS Liaison Committee, Hunter Valley Wine Country Tourism Inc. and Hunter Water Consultative Forum.

Business papers for the following week's Council Meeting are delivered to Councillors homes every second Friday afternoon. Councillors may spend many hours reading these papers in preparation for the Council Meeting. The business paper is also placed on Council’s website at .

Councillors often spend considerable time researching agenda items and may speak to the parties involved as well as organise on-site inspections.

Residents phone, write and email to their Ward Councillors on issues affecting their Ward, as well as other Wards. These matters are followed up by telephone, fax and mail to the respective Council officers. 

Councillors are often asked to attend community functions. A community group, for example, may be holding an Annual General Meeting and extend an invitation for a Councillor to attend. On occasions when the Mayor is unable to attend a function, the Mayor may ask a Councillor to represent her on these occasions.

How much does a Councillor get paid?

Councillors get paid $15,500 each year.