Dear Beagle Editor, Your readers might be interested in our latest media release. Crumbs …
The Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association (BVSRRA) welcomes last week’s announcement that the state government will provide $3M to fund the construction of the 15km Bega to Tathra cycle path & a further $2M to fund a shared walkway from Rotary Park to the Merimbula Wharf in Merimbula, with both projects set to enhance community amenity & add to the local economy by attracting more tourists.
Notwithstanding this welcome news, the BVSRRA remains hugely disappointed with the ongoing failure of the NSW government to address basic infrastructure challenges facing the shire in providing clean & safe drinking water, developing critical sewage infrastructure & making a genuine investment in local road construction.
The Minister for Transport & Member for Bega enjoys making announcements however, throwing a token $5M on the table for highly popular community projects simply doesn’t “cut the mustard” on the back of his government’s announcement of a record $4.5Billion budget surplus, while significant funds for major projects further up the coast, such as the proposed $300M investment in new bridges over the Clyde River at Batemans Bay & Nelligen, appear readily available.
For those residents & ratepayers who may not be aware, the Bega Valley is the only local government area in NSW whose drinking water supplies are not protected by filtration systems. And while many locals may have resigned themselves to a life with dirty & smelly water, for a shire desperately trying to build a local tourism industry, the reality is that it is a major turn-off for visitors. Meanwhile, recent representations to the state government’s Regional Infrastructure Coordinator, Lieutenant General Ken Gilles, by Cr McBain, have obviously proved fruitless.
In the last week, there has been renewed debate about the inadequacy of the shire’s sewage infrastructure, particularly regarding the need to replace the archaic beach outfall and upgrade the plant at Merimbula. While council has a strategy to overcome the sewage challenge by building a major ocean outfall, it has no hope of finding the estimated $30M + necessary to underwrite the project, even if it is able to overcome growing opposition to the idea itself.
And when it comes to the shire’s roads, the challenge is even greater with the shire burdened with more than 700kms of unsealed roads, including 65kms of ‘collector roads’ carrying substantial traffic volumes.
The scale of the road works challenge is evidenced by the fact that council’s current plan for developing collector roads entails sealing only 15kms over the next decade, with the anticipated spend a pathetic $3M; ironically the same amount that the state government has just tossed on the table for the design & construction of the Bega to Tathra bike path.
In addition, it should not be lost on the local community that the funds required to design & construct the new Batemans Bay bridge would cover the cost of sealing the entire 700kms of unsealed roads across the shire.
When Mr Constance was asked about the availability of funding for local roads, his patronising response was to suggest that council could apply for state government grants.
The BVSRRA has absolutely no doubt that the residents of Batemans Bay & Nelligen weren’t asked to apply for grants to fund the construction of their new bridges & it sees no reason why the Bega Valley Shire should be treated any differently.
The BVSRRA believes that the state government, like the Member for Bega, would be seriously mistaken to take the Bega electorate for granted, as evidenced by his clear belief that the shire will be satisfied with a few crumbs dropped off the top table.
Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association