Community meeting at Rocky Creek

December 13, 2007

Ramps on the Killarney Gap Road, tree clearing and rural addressing were the major subjects of interest for the 10 Rocky Creek residents who attended the recent community consultation meeting with Gwydir Shire’s representatives, General Manager, Max Eastcott, Mayor Peter Caskey, Director of Environmental Services Roger McGrath and Councillor Catherine Egan.

“It’s in everyone’s interests to remove the ramps. Ramps are a liability to owners and a potential hazard to motorists,” Mayor Peter Caskey told those present. General Manager Max Eastcott said that “our preference is to not have ramps and eventually have them removed… Council will finance refencing with repayments over 5 years for the unsealed sections…. The funds will be loans only. There will be no grants and there will be a $300 per annum administration fee.”

The gathering was told that Council is happy to assist landholders to fence the unsealed sections which are to be tarred in the next 12 months, considering the work is being done at such short notice. The fact that landholders are still experiencing drought and thus financial hardship, was another factor taken into consideration when the decision was made to provide assistance. One landholder suggested that it was obvious that the (Killarney Gap) road was going to be tarred and that he had undertaken a fencing programme for the last 10 years in anticipation of the eventuality.

Mr Eastcott told the meeting that “every property owner will have different issues. Council will try to work with property owners to resolve them.”

The renaming of the Bingara – Narrabri Rd to Killarney Gap Rd was raised again at the meeting. One landholder reported an incident when, in an effort to register a car, a resident had been told “the road does not exist”. The point was also made that this is a potentially dangerous situation in the event of an emergency where an address is required. Narrabri Rd residents were advised by Council on March 8, 2006 that Killarney Gap Rd is their new rural address but it still has not been gazetted.

Regarding road signs, the meeting was advised that a works order has been issued to install Killarney Gap Road signs on the major intersections including distances in kilometres.

On the subject of rural addressing, Mayor Peter Caskey stated that the Emergency Services are letting the system down. They have been tardy in adopting the system, despite the General Manager speaking to the Minister about it. GPS units are still not in all ambulances. Funding for the rural address posts was raised again with some ratepayers refusing to pay for the posts, the question being asked, “how can you charge for a system that is not working?” General Manager, Max Eastcott responded saying “Council has expended significant money that needs to be recouped.”

Concern was expressed about the extent of the tree clearing at the sides of the road where tarring is imminent. A plea was also made to give consideration for landholders’ fences which have been damaged by some of the roadworks in the past.

The meeting closed with Mayor Caskey telling the meeting that the Council believes in community consultation. “We come twice a year. If you have a problem between those meetings then please come in to the office and talk about it. The shire is 9000 square kilometres with 5,500 people. Councillors rely on good lines of communication as we cannot know about everyone’s problems.”

Those who attended the meeting were generally happy with the information given. One landholder who is seriously affected by the roadworks said “Council is doing what it can for the people” and that he felt the treatment for landholders was “reasonable”.