A BRIDGE for the Woobadda Creek crossing has been put on hold again - risking $2 million in grants - because Cairns Regional Council is reluctant to fund the project.
The CRC last week approved additional funding required to build the bridge, however a rescission notice was lodged by Division 2 Councillor John Schilling to review the approval.
Although Mayor Bob Manning was one of the nine councillors to vote in favour for the project, he has since said the project is not a ‘‘high priority’’ and Cairns should not have to fork out for it.
‘‘If there was a job going to cost $5 million in which had to be funded now and would be completed prior to de-amalgamation, is that right for the people of Cairns to trump up that $5 million when it would only benefit the Douglas Shire?,’’ he said.
‘‘Clearly the answer is no and the the same logic can be used for the $470,000.’’
Cr Manning said he did not want Douglas to be ‘‘disadvantaged or advantaged’’ and justified this backflip in council.
‘‘We are not operating in a normal period,’’ he said.
But according to the deamalgamation legislation, proponent councils are supposed to operate as normal during the transition process.
Division 10 councillor Julia Leu said she feared this was a delaying tactic so the CRC could avoid paying its contribution.
‘‘It is an outrageous move after the bridge was approved by the majority of councillors last week,’’ she said.
‘‘I don’t want to see residents and the tourism operators that rely on this crossing further disadvantaged by yet another delay and risk losing the approved external funding.’’
Cr Leu said the move has put at risk not only the external funding but the $437,923 already spent on the project, which was labelled as a high priority by the community and industry during the Cape Tribulation Road Link Planning Study.
Mike D’Arcy regularly uses the Woobadda creek crossing as a tour operator and said council was putting the community’s welfare at risk.
‘‘Even thinking about rescinding the previous approval is absolutely ridiculous, it’s disrespectful and dangerous,’’ he said.
Cook MP David Kempton said he will lobbying the council to get the ‘‘high priority’’ Woobadda Creek bridge project back on track.
‘‘The current council has a responsibility until January 1 and I will be lobbying Bob Manning heavily to ensure those essential works are done as planned,’’ he said.
While it has been confirmed the external funds have been extended until the end of the 2013/2014 financial year, FNQ Regional Organisation of Councils executive officer Darlene Irvine said she was concerned the funding could be withdrawn.
‘‘If the State Government does not make any changes to the current arrangements it is likely the ATSI and LRRS contributions ($1.2 million) could be ‘swapped’ with another project in 14/15,’’ she said.
‘‘With regard to the RSDP funding ($900,000) - this program was always due to end in 13/14.
‘‘With the current climate within the State Government it is highly unlikely they will allow the funding to continue into 14/15.’’
Councillors will vote on the rescission motion on Wednesday.