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Byron Shire
October 18, 2021

Local MP not included in huge secret road plan

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The elected Greens MP for the NSW seat of Ballina has again been left out of infrastructure planning for the region, this time by executive Byron Council staff.

As per the article on page 6, Cr Basil Cameron claims staff have pursued, without councillor knowledge, a $78m funding application to widen the Ewingsdale Road corridor. 

Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith. Photo Tree Faerie.

Nats asked for support

According to Cr Cameron, Nationals MLC Ben Franklin was asked by staff to provide a letter of support for an Infrastructure Australia (IA) funding application for Ewingsdale Road, yet Ms Smith was not.

Cr Cameron says the secret staff decision is based on poor data and it would shift traffic congestion further towards Byron Bay. He also says it’s not in the community’s interest, or consistent with Council policy.

It comes after a recent announcement by local Nationals MLC Ben Franklin, and Mayor Simon Richardson, about a funding  upgrade at Grays Lane and Broken Head Road that was made without Greens MP Tamara Smith being invited. Ms Smith says she was active in supporting that project, yet was not offered an invitation for the announcement, or acknowledged for her input at the time.

Mr Franklin lost against Ms Smith in the 2019 State election, yet is active in announcing funding for the electorate.

Ms Smith confirmed that she was not told of the funding

application, and told The Echo, ‘It seems very odd that a Nationals party MLC was asked by Council staff to write a letter of support for a grant application worth over $70 million dollars’.

‘We need to make sure that an integrated transport management plan is in place for the Ewingsdale interchange and that the community have been extensively consulted. Many in our community support park and ride and linking the solar train up to Tyagarah. How do those aspirations fit into the staff led plan?

‘Given the Nationals and Liberals grants rorts exposed over the last 12 months, I think Byron Shire Council should be making every effort to be transparent about the future of infrastructure in the Shire’.

She added, ‘As the democratically elected local member, who also sits on the Byron Shire Council Local Traffic Committee (LTC), I find it super weird that my office has not been included in this process. 

‘I’ve written over 20 letters of support for Byron Shire Council in the last four years, so why not this one?’

Poor proposal

Cr Basil Cameron told The Echo, ‘There is a lot wrong here. A poor proposal, not in the community’s interest or consistent with Council policy, has been pushed along in the background without councillors seeing the proposal’.

‘The community deserve to know whose agenda this really is’.

‘Tamara Smith is a member of the Local Traffic Committee, yet the application was not brought before that committee. 

‘No report was prepared for the Transport and Infrastructure Advisory Committee.

‘We need to transition to sustainable transport systems that meet the needs of our community. That means facing up to what our community is saying. 

‘Better public transport, multi-use of the rail corridor, park and ride all have to be a part of the solution. 

‘What has been revealed is that without action, the repeated cost of narrowly focussed quick fixes is vastly higher and financially unsustainable.

‘Doing nothing is no longer acceptable’.

Council’s executive staff were contacted and a reply will be published if/when it is received.

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  1. To widen the Ewingsadale Road is futile.
    Why is there such a thing as a “bottleneck” in a bottle.
    The neck of the bottle slows the drink coming out so it can be swallowed
    Same as if Ewingsdale Road was widened.
    To widen the road speeds up the traffic, so all the traffic will get to the Roundabout and the railway crossing a lot quicker where is slows to a crawl again.
    That then is a lot worse traffic jam if the road was not widened. You have twice the traffic at a certain spot twice as fast. So the traffic jam takes the same time to unravel as if the road was not widened.
    What the Council must be banking on is that the Butler Street Bypass will take the traffic jam away.
    That will not happen because widening road will increase the speed and reduce the time of the cars getting there and it wil increase the number of cars.

  2. More examples of some Greens working for pro-development interests rather than the Community who elected them. Simon and Michael Lyon could be 1 & 2 ON THE NATIONALS TICKET NEXT ELECTION -State or Local.

  3. Sick making, snubbing the MP. Reason: they are politically motivated and wish to bypass the electorate’s democratic choice….. undemocratic to say the least!!!

    Basil, I am glad you are going into bat…

  4. So why has our suposedly “Greens” council and mayor not included Tamara, also Greens (Dare I say a lot more Green than our elected councillors are proving) in this major decision?
    Once again, we have an ill-thought out, non transparent process being carried out without due diligence, yet more funds being lost.

  5. Some very poorly informed opinion in comments above.

    1. This is Council staff and Transport for NSW attempting to solve the immediate problem of tailbacks on the M1 at Ewingsdale interchange. This is a dangerous situation that needs to be resolved quickly. Can you imagine a semi trailer coming over the hill and ploughing into stationary cars on the highway?

    2. The widening only goes as far as McGettigans lane where there will be a pinch point and a merge. Essentially the plan simply moves the traffic jam off the M1 and onto Ewingsdale Rd.

    3. As far as I know, Simon Richardson and Michael Lyon had no knowledge of staff’s plans either, and support Basil’s view that councillors, local MPs and the community should have been involved in this process.

    4. A very strong majority of councillors agree that widening Ewingsdale Rd all the way into town and allowing single occupant private vehicles to use the additional capacity is not a solution to Byron Bay’s traffic problems, and that any additional capacity on that road should be used in conjunction with other solutions such as park and ride, public transport and better active transport infrastructure.

    I am a member of Council’s Transport and Infrastructure Advisory Committee.

  6. In your next article you should be asking exactly how many times Tamara Smith has attended the Byron Local Traffic Committee in the past 4 years since she is well known for her lack of attendance at any event or meeting.
    That would be one of the many reasons (including her inability to remain professional) she has alienated herself from being consulted from decision making processes in Byron and Ballina shires.
    She takes our votes then disappears for 3 years, only seen in staged photos for Facebook and then whines about not being included.

  7. $78 million to widen Ewingsdale Road? Very odd. Normally when a grubby pork-barreling exercise takes place, the infrastructure provided at least has some value, & there has been some strategic planning behind it. This project, however, will do nothing for the bottleneck at the entrance to Lawson Street, as others have noted. Presumably there will be an opaque tendering process for the works & someone will make a lot of money.
    The money would go a fair way in restoring our rail service. That would make a difference to a traffic-choked town.


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