The Beagle Editor, Your readers might like to hear news of the recent Our Town Our Say Public Meeting held on 1st December 2018 at the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club.
Approximately 45 people attended a public meeting hosted by Our Towns Our Say at the Soldiers Club on Saturday afternoon. The audience was firstly addressed by former councillor and local businessman Milton Leslight who began by paying tribute to the brains trust of locals who voluntarily come forward to share their expertise. Milton went on to add that he was not satisfied that there has been good community consultation & engagement and commented on the lack of transparency. “I have learnt that people on committees have been asked to sign confidentiality agreements which makes their job very unfair and untenable.” Milton was also concerned that the new bridge design may not cater to those with mobility issues. However, the most severe problem was identified as being the Princes Highway and Peninsula Drive roundabout.. “I have been told that RMS plan to put in smart traffic lights, the same as those installed at Albion Park, a nightmare.” “Where is the Batemans Bay Master Plan?” Milton urged the audience to take the message back to the community and to demand ‘transparency’.
Milton was followed by chartered professional engineer and master urban transport planner Michael Prouza who provided an well constructed power point presentation of ‘what is now’, ‘what is planned’ and ‘what could be’ in relation to the new Batemans Bay Bridge. This was followed by question and answer time where the community could interact with the speakers in an open forum.
Sitting Members of Parliament in Bega and Gilmore, along with candidates, the Mayor and all councillors were personally invited to come along and listen to the community’s concerns. Of those invited, Clr Pat McGinlay from Dalmeny and Labor candidate for the seat of Bega Leanne Atkinson from Tathra did accept and were in attendance.
The RMS was offered the opportunity to speak to the meeting but declined.
Much of the discussion centred around traffic congestion in the CBD area and at the Kings/Princes Highway roundabout, creating the possibility of emergency service vehicles being unable to get through, the reason we actually need a new bridge at all. It was claimed that B doubles already cross the existing bridge, where is the evidence that the existing bridge has concrete cancer? There was also a suggestion for the purchase of a lower line ferry or relocation of the jetty to the western side of the current bridge, whether or not the location of new bridge is appropriate, trucks/buses access and loss of the tourist dollar.
Some of the comments included ‘Where is the Mayor, why isn’t she here?’ ‘We haven’t heard anything about information sessions held by RMS, where did they advertise?’ ‘Why didn’t our local member come to the meeting?’
This is OTOS final meeting for 2018 making a total of five public meetings thus far, covering topics such as the Batemans Bay Arts/Aquatic Centre, Council’s sea level rise policy, ONE hospital for Eurobodalla and the Batemans Bay Bridge.
OTOS intend to continue to hold further meetings into the future where the public sets the agenda and has the opportunity to interact and raise questions in an open and transparent forum. These are Our Towns, we are entitled to have Our Say. Below are the resolutions passed at that meeting Coral Anderson, Maureen Searson, Joan Armstrong, Peter Coggan Our Towns Our Say
OTOS public meeting 1st December 2018 - Resolution
Motion: To be put to Member for Bega, Minister Andrew Constance and all NSW State candidates in anticipation of the upcoming election in March 2019.
That this meeting unanimously determined the scope of the new Batemans Bay Bridge planning to include and reflect the following:
1. The option of the pedestrian access to the bridge via excessive pedestrian ramps developed within promenade areas on both banks as proposed by RMS was unanimously rejected as these ramps will not ease the extremely difficult access to the bridge to elderly and disabled and have a strong potential of seriously harming the fragile appeal of both bank promenades;
2. A provision of a pedestrian access to the bridge acceptable also for all elderly, disabled and even those who need to cross the river in a hurry was strongly demanded. The option of the pedestrian access to the bridge via slim attractive stairwell towers equipped with public lifts and attached to the bridge on both banks [or bank promenades??] was unanimously supported;
3. The request an adequate prognostic traffic analytical study to be undertaken by RMS regarding the need of applying an ultimate solution to the already notoriously underperforming junction of the state Kings and Princes highways was unanimously demanded;
4. The request an ultimate option of separating of the two highways (and Peninsula Drive) at grade (via a flyover/overpass/bridge) to be reflected in the river bridge design was unanimously supported;
5. It was unanimously requested an immediate consideration be given to the North Street operations with respect to the access and operations of large delivery trucks, semitrailers as well as buses and coaches and emergency service vehicles;
6. It was unanimously requested a traffic management study of vehicle and pedestrian operations within the central town area be provided to address all likely impacts of the new river bridge on operations of North Street, Perry Street, Clyde Street and Beach Road in particular.
7. It has been understood the current central coach & bus station within the North Street/Clyde Street intersection may not be retained to provide for efficient and safe operations of the public transport services to the community. The request for finding and applying of an adequate and acceptable solution to that looming problem was unanimously requested.
8. That all parties/committees involved in the construction/planning of the Batemans Bay bridge be more transparent with better community consultation/engagement processes put in place without the insistence of unnecessary ‘gagging’ clauses and confidentiality agreements to be signed by committee members.