Govt inaction delays Byron school upgrade

ALP candidate for the state seat of Ballina, Asren Pugh. Photo supplied

On Thursday (May 17) the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) deferred making a decision on the long awaited upgrade to Byron Bay Public School because of a missing government traffic study.

Labor candidate for Ballina, Asren Pugh, said ‘students, parents and staff would be ‘very disappointed by this decision’.

The school’s mouldy old demountables, with peeling paint and grass growing through the floor are, according to teachers at the school, ‘a nightmare to work in’ and a completely unsuitable learning environment.

Instead, Mr Pugh said, ‘we need to be giving our students the best learning environment possible.

‘The $7.6 million dollar upgrade was designed to replace up to six old demountable classrooms with a new two-storey building.

The Development Assessment Report from the JRPP states that the Government as the applicant was asked to provide a Traffic Impact Statement on February 28 but that ‘this was not responded to by the applicants’.

‘It is a shame that governments decision not to provide a Traffic Impact Statement is delaying this project. Such a simple thing that could now mean that students are stuck in old run down demountables, many of them over 20 years old.’ Mr Pugh said.

A Freedom of Information request by Labor has revealed that the Ballina Electorate has 70 demountable classrooms and the vast majority of those are over 20 years old.

An alternative to doing a traffic study might be to cap the number of students at the school.

‘With the government waving through massive developments like West Byron we can’t afford to be artificially capping the number of students at the school. We need to be able to use all the space available.

‘It would be great to see the upgrade to Byron Bay Public School get back on track so local students can get into their new classrooms as soon as possible,’ Mr Pugh said.

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