Will Locals Pay the Price for Willow Tree Road?

Filed in Recent News by June 26, 2020

MERRIWA locals are concerned over how their rates will be affected after Council passed a motion last night allowing the Mayor and General Manager to utilise a loan of up to $5million to rectify the Merriwa Willow Tree Road works.

Residents Colin Bates and Lois Wilkinson said they are concerned about the potential cost of the repairs and are worried ratepayers will be the ones “bailing out Council”.

“It’s alright to say they want to borrow $5million but to repair that, it might cost, 6, 7, 8 who knows,” Colin said.

“Somewhere along the line they’re going to want to whack our rates up and I just can’t wear that, really I can’t,” he said.

“It’s incompetence on their behalf and we’ve got to bail them out, that’s not right,” he said.

“We all pay our rates, and our rates here will probably go up again, that’s a lot of money, particularly when we’ve had a drought,” Lois said.

“It’s a bit of a disaster this, but I take my hat off to Cr Watts and Cr Abbott for bringing up the fact that they did not know the full extent of this application for the finance because there hadn’t been any reports to say how much money was required yet it was voted on to apply for a $5million loan…some of them must be in the dark I’d say,” she said.

When hearing that the road will remain closed to vehicles carrying over 5tonnes for up to three years whilst repair works are completed, residents questioned if Council would be delivering rate reductions to road users.

“Jesus Christ, what are they going to do start from scratch again or what?

Barriers placed on the road, limiting vehicles longer than 10 metres and vehicles carrying an excess of 5tonnes.

“Do they realise how much extra that is put onto our bill?

“Are they going to give us a reduction in our rates?” Colin asked.

“You heard what David Alker said on those loads of cattle, $1,300 extra to bring those cattle home, that’s only one farmer,” he said.

“You have a look at this whole Merriwa district, there would be thousands of cattle going up and people coming down too,” he said.

“When they said it could be up to three years before it’s going to be fixed, I mean this is going to cost us a fortune, going all the way around with our cattle every month…I’d hate to think we’d have to do that for another three years,” Lois said.

Locals also said that the implementation of project guidelines was “not enough” and that the engineers assigned to the works should be “sacked”.

“Who was supposed to be in charge of that job, can we find out whether they’ve been sacked or dismissed or suspended?” Colin asked.

“They should be sacked, no if’s or buts, you’re gone mate,” he said.

Large surface crack in one of the corners on Merriwa Willow Tree Road.

Residents are waiting for Council to explain who was responsible for the failed roadworks but are glad to see NSW for Transport have allocated a project manager to oversee the repairs.

“Why didn’t the General Manager say that the engineering was incompetent? The way that came across to me, he is blaming the workers, it’s not the workers it’s the bloody engineers that are in charge and that is wrong,” Colin said.

“I used to run my own engineering business, and I was responsible for each one of those fellas I had under me…now if they did a crappy job, the onus comes back onto me and I would be the one who wears the brunt of it,” he said.

“I think it’s an excellent idea putting in the NSW transport project manager…I would say, most of those Councilors that are one there would not have a clue on what time of day it is when it comes to roadworks,” said Colin.

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