Council doesn't support funding transfer from gateway to roads

GREATER Taree City Council will not write to the deputy prime minister Warren Truss to request funding for the Northern Gateway Transport Hub be transferred to its Roads and Bridges program, as member for Lyne David Gillespie has suggested they do.

On Monday, mayor Paul Hogan received a letter from Dr Gillespie concerning the $10 million in funding promised for the Northern Gateway in which he suggested the transfer.

Dr Gillespie expressed concern there was a real possibility the $10 million in infrastructure funding could be lost from the Manning Valley if the project is not progressed because preliminary work has not been done, nor have any co-contributions secured from the NSW Government or council.

In addition to the letter, written on the request of Cr Hogan following a phone conversation between the two, he used a public meeting with Dyers Crossing residents who are desperate to have their deteriorating bridge replaced, to announce his suggestion.

In a statement at the council meeting on Wednesday night, Cr Hogan said it was council's position that "each of these investments into the region is crucial and we are committed to delivering both for the community.

"The Manning Valley Chamber of Commerce and the business sector share this position."

The council resolved to confirm its commitment to ensure the funding is received from the federal government for the Northern Gateway project and the Roads and Bridges Program.

As a matter of urgency council will seek a meeting, in any location in New South Wales, with the deputy prime minister to discuss the commitments he and the assistant minister for Regional Development made on December 4, 2013, regarding the federal government's undertaking to honour and fund projects under the Regional Development Australia Fund (rounds two, three and four) and the Community Infra structure Grants Program.

Also, given the dire condition of Dyers Crossing bridge, council moved that the deputy prime minister be requested to use his discretion and release funds out of the $11.4 million so this project can proceed as a matter of urgency.

Cr Hogan said he was pleased Dr Gillespie had recognised the critical need for investment in local roads and bridges and that he can now relay that information first-hand to his federal colleagues.

Dr Gillespie continues to state that funding for the roads and bridges was an empty promise of the Labor government and the $11.4 million was never there.

Council feels it has proven its position through documents sourced through Freedom of Information.

"The fact is the federal government withdrew the $11.4 million for roads and bridges and council wants the allocation of these funds to be honoured."

Cr Hogan said that in his phone conversation with Dr Gillespie last week, in which it was suggested council seek to transfer the money, Dr Gillespie had indicated that the State government contribution of $7.5million for the Northern Gateway would not be forthcoming. "He later reiterated this in a radio interview.

"Council has not been advised of any such decision and there is a meeting scheduled for February 26 to discuss the submission seeking a contribution for $7.5 million.

"The Northern Gateway is a project that will not only benefit the Manning Valley but also contribute to the medium and longer-term transport needs of the State.

"Dr Gillespie has run newspaper advertisements claiming the commitment of the Northern Gateway funding as one of his major achievements in his first 100 days in office. He is now suggesting this funding be diverted."

Cr Hogan said it had been three weeks since council's initial request to Dr Gillespie to seek a meeting with the deputy prime minister about the funding issue, and no date has yet been given.

"I am pleased to be part of a council which is working to deliver a long-term strategy which will ensure economic development and employment for our community," he said.

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