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Byron Shire
April 15, 2021

Council and the state government in negotiations over desperately needed roads funding

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As potholes continue to spawn across the Shire like not-so-magic mushrooms, Byron Council and the State Government are in discussions over $25m in desperately needed infrastructure funding.

The ‘Tourism impact funding’ was promised by the Coalition in the lead up to the March state election, with the then candidate for the seat of Ballina Ben Franklin describing it as a ‘game changer’.

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro with the Nationals’ candidate for Ballina, Ben Franklin promising $25m for infrastructure in Byron in the lead up to the state election. Image: Lewis Templar. www.templarphotographic.com

At least 80 per cent of the total funding must be spent on roads, while the remainder can be spent on either roads or other basic infrastructure such as amenity blocks or lighting.

Five months after the promise was made, council and the state government remain in negotiations about how the money should be spent.

‘Council has developed a list of potential projects based on community feedback and input over the last couple of  years but all projects will need to be approved by the State Government,’ Council’s General Manager Mark Arnold said.

‘The $25 million program of Tourism Impact Funding is a four year program, and it is understood that funding for the approved projects in the first year, will be received in the current financial year,’ he said.

Main Arm local Ron Priestly, who worked on major road projects for many years, welcomed the funding but said $25m would ‘not go terribly far’.

‘What would be very interesting to know is how they’re going to spend it,’ Mr Priestly said.

‘That’s something the public should know,’ he said.

‘At the very least you would hope it would be a case of safety first – prioritising those spots where the potholes are at risk of damaging people’s cars or even sending them off the road.’

The combination of recent rains, ever increasing traffic and the Shire’s growing infrastructure backlog has contributed to a bumper crop of winter potholes.

Local social media pages have been bombarded with posts from locals venting their frustration over the state of the Shire’s roads.

A number have reportedly suffered damage to their cars as a consequence of hitting some particularly deep potholes.

There are around 2.1 million visitors to the Byron Shire every year, the majority of whom arrive by car.

This puts a huge strain on local infrastructure such as roads, bridges, drainage and road barriers.

However, funding for this infrastructure is drawn from a ratepayer base of just 15,300 properties.


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6 COMMENTS

  1. So …………the Byron Council is unable, incapable and just too useless to maintain even the most basic of services in the richest neighbourhood in NSW……. without bludging on less well endowd taxpayers across the state,who would be hard pushed to even be able to afford a visit, to such an overpriced and over-rated stain on the map.
    At least when I was a child, although the main income for the town was through the slaughter of defensless whales, the council could pave the roads without milking unsuspecting backpackers for their last cent,and then crying poor.
    Shame,shame,shame G”)

  2. It’s hard to work out why one of the wealthiest shires in New South Wales suffers road surface conditions that are far worse than many of NSW shires which are far less financially well-endowed.

    • I wonder how you judge ‘one of the wealthiest’. It’s certainly not by Council’s coffers. There are an increasing number of moneyed individuals moving into the shire but also plenty, whose home purchases predate the real estate insanity, that are just at very ordinary income levels. For them, living in the shire is becoming increasingly unaffordable.

      If you want the shire to keep funding the strained infrastructure through raising rates you will end up by forcing these people out with their properties snapped up for holiday rental or other commercial enterprise. Those is work will travel increasing distances to come in to service the really wealthy. Retirees and those unable to find work will just leave the area. Few locals, a local elite and more and more tourists. The trend has long been underway but is this journey your vision for the future of our shire?

      You could perhaps suggest the state government stop its concerted tourism push of Byron (because of its economic value to the state – think stamp duty windfall) without adequately funding its impact.

      Is

      • Well Liz ,
        I am sorry to inform you, that I once contemplated buying a property in Byron in the Seventies,however it was obvious then that prices would rise, the rich would force out the locals ,who would no longer want or afford to live in this stretch of the GoldCoast.
        It is inevitable, so raise the rates and pay for your own incompetent council.
        G”)

        • Ken, how prescient you were and admirably lacking in materialism. If you had bought a house then you could have made a tidy profit. So could all those who sell up now but some of us don’t believe in giving in to the ‘inevitable’ quite so easily.

  3. Liz, thank you for your very insightful explanation regarding the reason why there are so many pot-holed roads in Byron Shire.

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