THERE were two articles in Friday’s Newcastle Herald relating to the privatisation of Newcastle Buses. One from opinion piece Mehreen Faruqi (“Newcastle: the victim of a failed experiment’” and a letter from Keith Parsons (“Trouble with transport”). After looking at the new bus timetable to be implemented next week, I think both articles are very relevant.
Keolis Downer seems to have taken a “slash and burn” approach to the timetable. Taking accessible and efficient routes and cobbling them together with others to make meandering and illogical ones. In some cases they have completely cancelled routes.
But the most concerning aspect of the new timetable for me is there seems to be only three routes into the city. The rest go to the Wickham transport hub. The implication being that to go into the city, you must catch a bus to Wickham and get the light rail. This seems a move to force people on to the light rail. It’s all the more ridiculous when the light rail is still a year or more away.
What will happen is, once commuters realise how hard it is to get anywhere and how long it will take, we will see a big drop in patronage. Our old route, the 310, is a case in point. It used to come through Merewether Heights and go via The Junction into the city. The new route, 22, doesn’t even go into The Junction. So now that will take two buses and, if I want to go into the city it will be two buses or a bus to Wickham and the light rail. I hate to think how long that will take. I’m sure that scenario is the same for others.
Peter Rennie, Merewether Heights
A matter of management
COUNCIL covers all utilities charges for water, gas and electricity use (“Who’s paying for water?” Letters, 12/1) at the sportsgrounds it directly manages. This is the vast majority of sportsgrounds in Newcastle. These fees fund mowing services, topdressing, fertilising, pesticide and herbicide spraying, aerating/verti-draining, line marking and goal-post installation as well as the cost of water, gas and electricity.
There are a handful of parks committees, such as the Stockton Parks and Oval Committee, that have elected to manage their sportsgrounds themselves. In such cases these committees collect fees and charges from user groups, such as the local cricket association. As you would then expect, these committees use fees collected to pay for costs incurred for electricity, gas and water.
Infrastructure costs – which can run into the millions of dollars – are funded by council, regardless of who manages the sportsground. This can include construction/upgrades to dressing sheds, canteens, toilets, referee and storage rooms, and floodlights. These costs are factored into property owners' rates. Sporting clubs and associations are able to contribute to and partner with council on any of the above works.
Council has scheduled a meeting for next week with the local cricket association to discuss better water management strategies and recent ground renovation works at Stockton, which required additional watering and fertilising.
Phil Moore, facilities and recreation manager, Newcastle City Council
Come to the real world
IT appears Newcastle council CEO Jeremy Bath is chastising the Herald (“Bigger and better on way” Letters, 11/1) for publishing my letter (Short Takes, 10/1) on the appalling lack of disabled facilities at Nobbys beach. It's fine to say a facility will soon be built at Nobbys, but why wasn't it done at the start of summer when council was throwing money around? Oh, that's right, silly me a car race was more important.
It appears also that Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Cr Declan Clausen and Bath aren't going to take me up on my offer of showing them what it's like to get out of my wheelchair and sit on a filthy toilet floor to try to get changed. You people don't appear to know what it is like in the real world, where simple things like going to the beach in summer are made almost impossible by your decisions.
Spin, spin, spin – that's all we seem to get.
Rick Johnson, Eleebana
Following the guidelines
I REFER to the article “Exploration lease process in spotlight” (Herald 11/1). The suggestion that some form of exemption has been provided in relation to the Wilpinjong exploration licence application is incorrect and misleading. The application has been made in accordance with approved NSW government guidelines that are published on the Division of Resources and Geoscience website and that have been in place since 2015. The applications will now be assessed by the NSW government against the transparent criteria contained in those guidelines.
Stephen Galilee, CEO, NSW Minerals Council
Keep city safe, vibrant
IT astounds me the Herald gives so much space to publican Roly de With (“Paying for crimes of few” Letters, 10/1). Of course, he would like to sell more grog to more punters. Never mind that emergency services and hospital staff and the majority of local residents are in support of the modest reduction in trading that has seen Newcastle become a safer, more sophisticated and vibrant city. To claim that road deaths necessitate the removal of cars from the road is spurious and bears no relationship to the outstanding achievements of the evidence-based and successful measures now in place to significantly reduce alcohol-related violence in Newcastle (and other cities and regions that have adopted these measures). It behoves the state government, and councils, to not be beholden to the alcohol lobby's petulant pleas for their selfish motives.
Kate Elderton, Newcastle
THERE is still honesty in the world. My 91-year-old neighbour went for a meal at a local Mayfield hotel with his grandson. When he returned home he realised that his wallet was missing and assumed he had dropped it at the pub, so he phoned the hotel but the wallet had not been found. Concerned about credit cards, licence, Medicare card and cash, he assumed he would not see the wallet again. But the next morning, much to his amazement, he found the wallet intact in his letterbox. He wants to say "thank you" to the very honest good Samaritan. It restores one’s faith in humanity, doesn't it? Good old Mayfield!
Denise Lindus Trummel, Mayfield
LETTER OF THE WEEK
THE Herald pen goes to Garry McLachlan for his letter about mess in inner-Newcastle.