About 25 years ago there were kids who were having to wait in the rain or the hot sun for the school bus and both the Upper Main Arm and Huonbrook communities decided to create shelters for their kids.
They are pretty simple structures, some poles, a seat and roof – enough to shelter under and are pretty natural looking structures that suit their local environments of being up in the hills. So when they once again found council signs tacked to the shelters announcing that they were about to be removed and replaced with modern aluminium structures both local communities got ready to oppose their removal with sit ins – even though non-violent protest seems to be able to get you arrested these days.
The funny thing is that this had all played out once before, last year in late October. Both local communities had had signs put on their shelters telling them they would have the bus shelters replaced; both had objected and both communities had been led to believe that the community built bus stops would remain.
‘No one from council had contacted anyone in the local community about replacing the bus stop. It was built by the community 25 years ago,’ said local Noel Hart. ‘We said, “no, it is a waste of money. The seating and poles are all in good condition.’
Short term shelters
The new shelters would be made of aluminium, have solar powered wifi and lighting.
‘According to the engineers report for the new bus shelter it would have a l lifespan of 15 years,’ said Mr Hart. ‘This one has been there for 25 years and has another good 20 years in it. So why are council trying to put a disposable bus stop in? They were just going to plonk the new one in front of the old one. This would be the Huonbrook version of the Disco Dong sculpture.’
For the Main Arm Shelter it has also become a place for book exchange with a purpose built box for locals to leave old books and find new ones.
According to councils website the bus stops are being funded through the Country Passenger Transport Infrastructure Grant and are being replaced to meet the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport.
‘The bus stop at Huonbrook has a concrete slab and we are happy for council to add a concrete ramp for disability access,’ said Mr Hart.
The Main Arm bus stop has a earthen floor at the same level as the surrounding area.
Calls to the Mayor Simon Richardson have produced a pause on the bus stops going ahead with Mr Richardson telling the Huonbrook community that he has had the project put ‘on hold’ once again.
Speaking to Echonetdaily he said, ‘Yes I intervened, though staff were going to press pause anyway. We will look to put the new bus stops where they are needed and wanted.
‘I think it is reasonable that if the community believe the shelters are theirs they should maintain them. If they are councils we have a responsibility to keep costs to a minimum and provide shelters of equal standard and cost across the shire. As much as we would love to use varied materials and embed more interesting and bespoke designs as we look to replace and add shelters across the shire, we don’t have the resources to do so. If the local community’s wished to create new or maintain current shelters we would certainly be happy to see how we may be able to assist.’
In the mean time Main Arm locals had taken things a step further and put in injunction on the structure to stop council from demolishing it. They then put their own sign on the bus stop stating, ‘Please take note. An injuncture was filed at the Magistrates Court yesterday the 5th November. Any attempt to remove or damage this structure until court approval has been obtained will be considered as contempt of court. Charges will result’.