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The yellow line marks the position of the “footpath required” for Orion Drive, as illustrated in the ‘Footpath, shared use – Yamba’ PAMP 2015. Image: Contributed

Accident waiting to happen … happens

Geoff Helisma

An accident on Orion Drive, Yamba, has fulfilled the fears of the area’s residents, 74 of whom wrote to Clarence Valley Council (CVC) in response to the advertising of the 2014/15 CVC budget and operational plan.

On Saturday October 17, an 84-year-old man was allegedly involved in a head-on collision with a four-wheel-drive.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous while he and his wife seek legal advice, it is reported he suffered 10 broken ribs and several other injuries – and was hospitalised for 12 days.

Among the issues highlighted by the 74 residents, they said “the lack of footpath causes elderly residents on mobility scooters to use the roadway, as well as mothers with strollers”.

Residents also pointed out that “recently, an elderly resident of Palm Lakes Resort – while riding her mobility scooter along the roadway because there is no other way – while moving out of the path of an overtaking vehicle tipped over and injured herself”.

The letter closed with: “As you will be aware, one of the duties of council [is] to be aware of and to remove where possible, hazards within its control…

“Council has been made aware of the above hazards on a number of occasions, but has not addressed them.”

Works to address the issue were not included in the 2014/15 budget and operational plan, however, Cr Karen Toms wrote to those affected, stating, in part: “Now, on the footpath I suggested we complete the section on Yamba Road to the corner of Orion Drive [this has been completed].

“I knew they [fellow councillors] would not go for the entire footpath at this stage because it is not in the PAMP [Pedestrian Access and Mobility Plan].”

Meanwhile, the construction of the path was subsequently included in the 2015 PAMP and given a “high” priority listing.

Staff advised councillors: “[The] project is included in the PAMP but is reliant on capital funding, whether fully by Council or in combination with grant funding.

“The AMP [Access and Mobility Plan] currently seeks to provide shared paths and cycleways with a priority rating of 56 or greater – this path meets this rating.”

The Independent put several questions to CVC, which the council’s works and civil director, Jamie Fleeting, answered in an email.

Independent: Please explain why nothing has happened to construct that path in the intervening five years, given staff advised that this path was on the PAMP list for construction and that it was appropriate for CVC to fund its construction despite the longstanding reliance on a 2007 DA (development application) to get the job done?

Jamie Fleeting: “My basic understanding is that Council had deferred undertaking the works in the anticipation that the path connection would be carried out by the developer following the satisfaction of Condition 6 of the [2007] consent.

“…In the absence of the developer undertaking the path works, Council staff will be recommending that these works are included in the capital works program for 20/21.

Independent: Will this tragic accident, foreseen by 212 signatories in 2015, lead to CVC taking any action to have the path constructed?

Mr Fleeting: “Council resolved at the October ordinary meeting (Item 6c.20.160) to consolidate and update the current PAMP and Bicycle plans.

“It also endorsed the appointment of a strategic Road Safety Officer (jointly funded by Transport for NSW) who would oversee the development of that new bike/PAMP.

“The Orion Drive remains a high priority and as such I will be recommending that this project is included as a priority in the 20/21 Capital works program.”

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