$12.5m loss of roads and bridges funding leaves Taree council "gutted"

GOBSMACKED, gutted, disbelieving - that's the reaction from various sectors of Greater Taree City Council to the news that the city has lost $12.5 million in roads and bridges funding.

The mayor, Paul Hogan is "extremely disappointed" with Lyne MP Dr David Gillespie's statement last week that this funding would not provided by the Coalition Government.

The funding in question was won by former independent member for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott during his negotiations with Julia Gillard back in 2011 and was part of the agreement that allowed her to form government. Prime Minister Gillard even referred to this funding in her speech when she took office.

Some of that funding has already been received by council and spent on preparatory works.

The mayor wrote to Dr Gillespie on November 5 explaining in detail how the money is to be spent. He received no response from the member for Lyne.

Cr Hogan is currently away on leave but acting mayor, Robyn Jenkins expects when he returns this week he will be having a "very animated" conversation with Dr Gillespie regarding this situation.

Cr Jenkins said the mayor believes it is a harsh position for Dr Gillespie to take, particularly given the closing of various companies and accompanying job losses in the Manning in recent times.

Council staff have also been affected by Dr Gillespie's statement. Council staff have been working with various federal departments towards getting this work started.

"For all intents and purposes, this work was going ahead and then a week before Christmas we get this news," Cr Jenkins said.

"We are disappointed in what appears to be a lack of understanding or lack of appreciation of how these issues came to exist and how council is dealing with it."

The mayor is also "extremely disappointed" that Dr Gillespie is unavailable to discuss this situation until January 29.

Dr Gillespie, in his press release last week, called on council to "start fixing roads through better tendering and construction practices". Greater Taree City Council has a $300 million backlog of work on failing infrastructure - $300 million would only bring roads up to current standards, not an improved standard.

"It would be soul-destroying not to have these works done," Cr Jenkins said.

A file shot of bridge repair in the Manning Valley.

A file shot of bridge repair in the Manning Valley.


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