Spend spread ques­tioned by res­i­dents

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Times New - Taelor Pelusey

The Shire of Au­gusta-Mar­garet River says Cowaramup res­i­dents have in­di­cated a pref­er­ence for un­sealed roads as a way of main­tain­ing the town’s “in­for­mal” feel af­ter its pri­or­i­ties were ques­tioned amid a pricey plan­ning stoush.

Soon af­ter the Times re­ported coun­cil­lors had ap­proved up to $70,000 to fight a State Ad­min­is­tra­tive Tri­bunal ap­peal over a re­jected BP petrol sta­tion, Cowaramup res­i­dent and busi­ness owner Ellen Mar­shall ques­tioned the man­age­ment of ratepayer funds.

Mrs Mar­shall told the Times many roads in Cowaramup were un­sealed and rid­dled with pot­holes, cul­verts re­mained blocked, and leaf lit­ter con­tin­ued to build up, pos­ing a fire haz­ard.

“We go with­out rub­bish col­lec­tion, we have gravel roads, there are no street lights, which they say isn’t in the bud­get. . . but they’re spend­ing all this money on a court case that ben­e­fits the few,” she said.

Mrs Mar­shall said she knew of oth­ers who held sim­i­lar views but were reluc­tant to speak up in the tight-knit com­mu­nity.

“Some­body else has to speak up for the rest of the town,” she said.

“Most of them will just mo­sey along and do their own thing, mean­while they’ll have more and more ser­vices stripped away from them be­cause the cen­tre of town doesn’t get stuff taken away from them, the out­skirts do.” Act­ing in­fra­struc­ture ser­vices di­rec­tor David Ni­chol­son said road cul­verts could be un­blocked if re­ported and de­fended the state of the roads.

“A num­ber of res­i­dents have con­tacted the Shire ad­vis­ing they do not wish for sev­eral roads to be sealed in order to main­tain the in­for­mal char­ac­ter of the area,” he said.

Waste, health and ranger ser­vices man­ager Ruth Levett said kerb­side waste and re­cy­cling col­lec­tion would soon be avail­able to most Cowaramup res­i­dents af­ter a re­cent au­dit of waste ser­vices.

Sa­ha­ran Daze owner Freya Duig­nan sup­ported Mrs Mar­shall’s calls for im­proved in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vices, but did not be­lieve it had to come at the ex­pense of the SAT ap­peal.

“I would love to see some money spent on roads and up­graded. . . but there’s room for both,” she said.

Mrs Mar­shall said she had no stance on the BP de­vel­op­ment but high­lighted how the poor roads of­ten forced peo­ple to turn back, di­rect­ing cus­tomers away from busi­nesses on the un­sealed strips.

Up to $70,000 on le­gal costs was ap­proved 6-1 ear­lier this month, with deputy shire pres­i­dent Kylie Ken­naugh vot­ing against the ex­pen­di­ture. Shire pres­i­dent Ian Earl later told the Times de­spite ini­tially vot­ing for the ser­vice sta­tion, he backed the Shire’s po­si­tion on the ap­peal.

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