Kyogle mayor fuming over lack of funds for bridges
KYOGLE Mayor Danielle Mulholland is fuming that her council will receive no funding from the Federal Government's $300 million Bridge Renewal program.
The council was advised in March that their application for funding six bridges had been unsuccessful, but after a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, they were hopeful of getting a one-off payment for Minneys Bridge at Tabulam, which has been closed since March 2014.
"I'm incredibly disappointed and at a loss to understand what rural communities have to do to attract infrastructure funding from the government," Cr Mulholland said.
"We drove this process (the creation of the Bridge Renewal fund) ... and did not get one bridge funded.
"I'm disappointed, frustrated and angry. Other bridges have been funded that don't meet the criteria and I have to wonder why."
After Cr Mulholland and Kyogle Council's executive manager of infrastructure works, Jeff Breen, met with Mr Truss, he agreed to change the criteria to make it easier for rural councils to qualify.
However, this is little comfort for people affected by the closure of Minneys Bridge, who now take a 45km detour.
She said the 45km detour for heavy vehicles had also added thousands of dollars in transport costs to farmers transporting cattle and grain.
"What do people living in rural communities have to do to secure funding for essential infrastructure?" Cr Mulholland said.
"Do people have to die; do businesses have to go under, before our needs are acknowledged by way of funding?"
Page MP Kevin Hogan said the feedback on Kyogle's application was that "it was lacking in sufficient detail".
"I have met with the Minister involved and Kyogle Council," he said.
"The Minister has agreed to have a resource in his office to work with Kyogle Council in Round 2 to improve its application."