Jeremy Bath wants name change for Newcastle City Council

Newcastle City Council interim CEO Jeremy Bath at the Stewart Avenue building where Newcastle City Council administration will be based. Photo: Simon McCarthy
Newcastle City Council interim CEO Jeremy Bath at the Stewart Avenue building where Newcastle City Council administration will be based. Photo: Simon McCarthy

Newcastle City Council chief executive officer Jeremy Bath is no fan of the word “council” and wants it scrapped from the local government area’s title.

Mr Bath, who was appointed last week after acting in an interim capacity since May, told the Newcastle Herald that the council’s planned move to the west end in 2019 could provide an opportunity for a name change.         

“I don’t like the word council. I think it’s tired; it’s outdated. I think it stands for a level of bureaucracy and red tape that we’re very much committed to getting away from,” he said.

“I’m far more comfortable in telling people that I’m the CEO of the City of Newcastle rather than I’m the CEO of Newcastle City Council.

“I’m not unique in thinking that way. You’ve only got to look at other major councils, such as the City of Sydney, who came to that realisation 10 years ago.”

Some local government areas in Australia, including City of Melbourne and City of Gold Coast, brand themselves without the word “council” but also refer to themselves as councils.

The City of Perth and City of Sydney generally eschew the term “council”, but Brisbane City Council and Wollongong City Council embrace it.

Jeremy Bath

Jeremy Bath

Newcastle City Council was known as City of Newcastle from 1949 to 1993 before adopting its present official name, although it still uses the former title in its logo.

Mr Bath said the move to a new building in Stewart Avenue was primarily about bringing council employees under one roof in better office accommodation. But he said the location shift and dropping “council” from his organisation’s title would reflect its agenda of transforming Newcastle into a more modern city.

“When you survey people, their feelings about council are very tired, they’re very negative,” he said.

“As we change and present a culture of this organisation that’s far more receptive to community needs, and, I guess, that’s far more bold in its thinking and its bravery in its decision making, we need to communicate that change to people.

“My personal view is that the term council is very much a ’70s term.”  

The council will have to change its address on digital and printed letterheads when it moves, which could provide an opportunity for rebranding.

“It will, but right now that’s not a focus,” Mr Bath said.

“It’s certainly something I’m thinking about, but I don’t have a timetable, and that’s certainly something I need to have a discussion with the elected councillors about, and I haven’t done that.”

Newcastle City Council’s former titles

Newcastle District Council (1843-1858)

The Municipality of Newcastle (1859-1867)

The Borough of Newcastle (1867-1938)

The City of Greater Newcastle (1938-1949)

City of Newcastle (1949-1993)

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