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Byron Shire
March 30, 2023

Pothole protest gets immediate results

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Upper Main Arm residents walked through Mullum demanding Council action on the poor state of their roads

Psst: want to get Council staff to do something about the appalling state of roads in your neighbourhood?

Organise a protest outside Mullum’s Council Chambers!

By the time a hardy crew of Upper Main Arm residents had gathered on Thursday at noon to highlight the dangerous state of their road, which had been disintegrating since the year after the floods, Council road works crew had graded the worst bits that morning. 

It appeared the basic work that residents were requesting took all of about four hours.

Upper Main Arm connects to Tweed Shire Council managed roads, which link to Uki and Murwillumbah.

Those roads, while also severely damaged a year ago, were graded some time ago, and are in much better condition.  

A day prior to Council grading the road on Thursday and the protest, Council’s chief of infrastructure, Phil Holloway, put out a lengthy press release around the challenges of road repairs in the hinterland, owing in part to a lack of funds.

He said, ‘One of Byron Shire Council’s main areas of focus in 2023 is managing a $180 million program of flood recovery work designed to provide improvements and solutions to roads and bridges that will be able to stand up to future flood events’.

‘We are very aware that much of this work will be starting 12 months after the floods and it is a frustrating wait for those in our community who are negotiating damaged roads, bridges and causeways as part of their daily routine.

Holloway added ‘a lot of work happening behind the scenes,’ and that like other affected councils, Byron Council has ‘never dealt with a disaster of this magnitude’.

‘For a small, regional Council like Byron Shire, a damage bill of more than $180 million, is beyond our financial capacity and we are working with the NSW Government to secure funding and planning scope and detail of each project and sourcing contractors are not things that can be done quickly,” he said.

‘At Upper Main Arm, reconstruction work is not expected to start until the second quarter 2023 pending approvals from Transport for New South Wales.

‘In the meantime Council is looking at doing some temporary grading work as an interim measure until the reconstruction work gets underway.

‘Prior to Christmas the clearing of culverts was finished, along with some other emergency roadwork such as road pavement works at Palmwoods Road.

‘Council has also prepared applications for additional funding to improve the resilience of the Main Arm Road to withstand future flooding events.

‘The results of the funding applications, which are expected in early 2023, will inform the extent and type of repairs’.  

$1.1m promised by NSW Coalition

Meanwhile, with the state election looming for March 25, the NSW Coalition government announced additional funding for councils across Ballina electorate  on Wednesday, ‘as part of the $500 million Regional and Local Roads Repair Program to fix more potholes’. 

The press release reads, ‘Byron Shire Council will receive $1,110,667 to fix 609km of council owned roads’. 

‘We also provided cash advances for emergency disaster funding to eligible councils and have diverted Transport for NSW road crews to help fix local roads. 

‘I encourage councils to get the deeds signed quickly so that funding for your local and regional roads gets to you sooner for essential repairs to get underway.’ 

Protest co-organiser Kol Diamond used a loud speaker outside Council to highlight the lack of duty of care by Council, and the long delays in them acting. The roads had become dangerous and cars were regularly being damaged owing to the large size of the potholes, he said. Mayor Michael Lyon was called upon to address residents, but failed to show. Instead, a Council staffer spoke to Diamond.

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