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Two out of four ain’t bad?

Geoff Helisma|

The long-running disagreements about choosing between lights and roundabouts, to manage increasing traffic in Yamba, was partially resolved at the February 25 Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting.

Two of the four roundabouts proposed for Yamba Road will be constructed at the Treelands Drive and Carrs Drive intersections with Yamba Road.

However, those planned for the Shores Drive and Yamba Street (Palmers Island) intersections will not proceed.

Councillor Peter Ellem led the debate against the officer’s recommendation, which proposed lights at Treelands Drive, roundabouts at Shores and Carrs drives and not proceeding with the Palmers Island intersection.

Councillor Ellem gained the support of four of the eight councillors – Novak, Clancy, Toms and Simmons – at the meeting, Cr Kingsley was absent; councillors Williamson, Lysaught and Baker were opposed.

The council will now: “seek a variation of the Funding Deed to allocate the Restart NSW $4,427,516 grant to the Treelands Drive and Carrs Drive roundabout projects”;

  • Proceed with tendering for the construction of roundabouts at Treelands Drive and Carrs Drive and, if required, with Restart NSW approval, seek a variation of the Funding Deed’s current completion timeline of January 2021 and of reporting milestones;
  • Allocate Council’s $1,300,189 Access Yamba contribution to the Treelands Drive and Carrs Drive roundabout projects;
  • Investigate opportunities to use Section 94 contributions and other sources to fund any budget shortfalls and report to Council any shortfall with the Treelands Drive and Carrs Drive tender recommendations; and,
  • Establish a project steering committee responsible for administering and overseeing these projects. The Committee comprise a Councillor and the Mayor; the Council Executive (General Manager and 3 Directors). The Project Manager for the works would report to this steering committee at regular intervals.

In general terms, Cr Ellem argued that the town’s amenity was an important factor.

“Tourists and the town’s people come here for a seaside lifestyle … they don’t not come here for traffic lights,” he said.

“…Our visitors appreciate the charm of the seaside town and the absence of city reminders.”

He pointed out that the Yamba Chamber of Commerce had “strong objections” to the concept of installing traffic lights 18 months ago and that the current president has reaffirmed the chamber’s “unequivocal and unanimous” opposition to lights.

“My motion is fiscally responsible,” Cr Ellem said; “it also reflects deed of agreement with Restart NSW.”

Councillor Andrew Baker made his case mainly on economic grounds.

“The fact is this motion will build two roundabouts for $6,606,748 million and three sets of lights [would cost] $2,126,899 million,” he said.

“I’ve read all of the letters, not one of them said they were prepared to pay more rates for CVC to spend three times as much money to give an indulgence to a very small number of people.”

Councillor Baker challenged the mayor, Jim Simmons, “to show some leadership … and not spend money we have not got”.

“This [proposal is made up] of all of the wrong things Mr Mayor and it cannot be allowed to go ahead,” he said.

See Cr Baker’s letter about the issue.