Letters to the editor July 7 2018

STANDING IN THE WAY: Reader Jeremy Smillie argues the Queens Wharf tower removal is only one step towards opening up the Dangar axis. Picture: Simone De Peak
STANDING IN THE WAY: Reader Jeremy Smillie argues the Queens Wharf tower removal is only one step towards opening up the Dangar axis. Picture: Simone De Peak

NEWCASTLE City Council wants to “accentuate the view corridor between Queen’s Wharf and Newcastle harbour and the Christ Church Cathedral”. (“Tower off to the scrap heap”, Herald 3/7)

Residents and visitors alike are no doubt pleased the council is taking an interest in opening up the Dangar axis from Queens Wharf through Market Street to the cathedral, but removing the long-neglected observation tower will not meet the stated objective for its removal.

If Newcastle City Council really wants to open up the axis, it would also demolish the inappropriate and controversial council mall car park which will remain the biggest visual and physical barrier. Perhaps the main concern is phallus-shaped objects and the associated spin, not truly connecting city to harbour.

In my opinion the council does not have the internal resources to create their liveable city. This week it is this phallus argument which support of my belief, and last week it was a bizarre decision to drive a speeding wedge through Hunter Street ("Mall Traffic change to receive 'choked' city", Herald 28/6). I believe that Newcastle City Council needs to consult a world-reckoned city planner like Jan Gehl to stop this mess of piecemeal spin-cycle tinkering that politicians and unelected officials seem only too keen to do.

Jeremy Smillie, Newcastle

HEADED DOWN WRONG ROAD

MUSTOMS Road in Karuah is the only way in or out for about 150 homes, it also is the road both in and out of the Aboriginal community.

Some time back late last year, attention was given to the pedestrian safety on this road where the road crosses Mustoms Gully where there is a dip in the road and it also has a curve at both sides of the gully making visibility poor, particularly at night. 

A petition was taken up and presented to council calling for safety improvements for pedestrian. The council have taken the amazing decision to cut the road back from two way to one way with a give way sign at one end, no lighting for illumination at night, and a painted line on the road to divide motorists and pedestrians, with no commitment to do what was ask in providing a paved walkway for pedestrians.Other than a newsletter to some of the letterboxes in Karuah and the petition there has been no community consultation, and it is considered by a number of community members that the situation will probably be more dangerous now than before. Karuah Progress Association objected to the planned program but were told rather bluntly the Council Traffic Committee had approved and the Karuah Progress were respectfully told to but out.

It seems to me that Port Stephen Council have now adopted the NSW state government attitude that community input is of little consequence.

Fred McInerney, Karuah

PRIME TIME, BUT OFF LINE 

BOB Hawes, the chief executive officer of the Hunter Business Chamber and president-elect of the Planning Institute of Australia Steve O'Connor rate our peerless Newcastle, the nation's seventh largest city ("City needs new official definition", Herald 3/7). Newcastle beckons as a year-round tourist mecca for global Sydney, yet the city centre has been taken off Sydney's train system. 

Graeme Tychsen, Rankin Park

THE ART OF PROPER PARKING

READING of the Lake Macquarie art trail along the water’s edge (“Outdoor art trail unveiled”, Herald 3/7): it sounds great, as does having local doctors, supermarket shopping, a community centre and the fabulous Boolaroo Cinema, which is often targeting seniors and sold out last week at midday for a screening of documentary Tea with the Dames.

However, access to all of these is becoming increasing difficult with the mounting demands due to extra lakeside high-rise units and visitors. The plea to the planners is clear: please double the number of disabled parking bays to be inclusive.

Keep the seniors and younger disabled out and about, social, and part of the community.

Anet Beilby, Warners Bay

DEFINITELY NOT THE POINT

WHAT’S in a definition? Not a lot I’d suggest, but Newcastle MP Tim Crackanthorp bravely moved an amendment to the ALP’s policy at their NSW weekend conference calling for clarity on funding categories (“Regional funding support”, Herald 2/7). 

Definitions and categorisations matter if you are bereft of ideas and vision. Definitions matter if you think the NSW government would return to the bad old days of not spending a razoo in Newcastle as Labor did in its 16 years in office.

Definitions count if you don’t think your city or electorate can put up sound business cases for productive infrastructure. Some would say definitions are important because it is easier than doing the comprehensive planning, prioritisation of infrastructure, calculating costs and benefits, making the case to Infrastructure NSW and Treasury and building broad support.

The NSW Liberal government confirmed it has $87.5 billion of infrastructure planned for the next four years. Newcastle and the Hunter will be sharing in that because the projects are needed, planned and backed by a government that believes in the region, not because of any definition or category.

This figure doesn’t include a share of the $4.1 billion windfall from the sale of the state’s share of Snowy Hydro. My advice from Treasury is no worthwhile, productive project should be excluded from consideration just because it touches on an excluded metro council area. Inevitably major infrastructure projects have a large footprint and cross over multiple local government areas.

The Berejiklian government is spending about twice as much on infrastructure as the previous Labor government. Health Infrastructure told me their annual budget was just over $300 million in 2012. Now it is more than $2 billion each year. Building a new Maitland Hospital was not possible under Labor simply because they didn’t have the funds. I’d suggest Mr Crackanthorp and Labor focus less on definitions, categories and whining and more on identifying well developed infrastructure proposals with solid business cases. When Newcastle is revitalised with modern health, education, urban , justice and transport infrastructure, who honestly cares about its category?

Scot MacDonald, Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter

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