Bridge build should be pri­or­ity

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - Front Page - BY RACHEAL WIL­LETT

Bel­more Street business own­ers frus­trated with Moira Shire Coun­cil plans to con­duct a plebiscite have joined the push to have the vote aban­doned and urged the com­mu­nity to get be­hind the cho­sen route once and for all.

Yar­ra­wonga res­i­dent Peter Ben­nett collected sig­na­tures from business own­ers in Bel­more Street in favour of the cho­sen route, the grey op­tion di­rectly along­side the ex­ist­ing bridge, with its ob­vi­ous ben­e­fits for CBD re­tail­ers.

They signed the pe­ti­tion urg­ing Moira Shire Coun­cil to change its stance in en­dors­ing the green route as the pre­ferred op­tion.

Sue Big­ger from Big­gers Floor­world and Fur­nish­ings said a plebiscite for Yar­ra­wonga res­i­dents only was irrelevant be­cause it took no ac­count of busi­nesses or res­i­dents in Mul­wala.

“I live in Mul­wala so I don’t get to vote but I own a business in Bel­more Street that is di­rectly af­fected by the bridge de­ci­sion,” Sue said.

“The vote doesn’t mean any­thing be­cause it doesn’t take into ac­count every­one’s opin­ion. It’s a waste of time.”

Mel Bakkum from Avalanche Ice Cream­ery said her business re­lied di­rectly on foot traf­fic from the bridge and fore­shore area as well as peo­ple driv­ing through.

“Peo­ple might not nec­es­sar­ily be think­ing about hav­ing an ice-cream but then they drive past, see us and de­cide to pull in,” she said.

“That di­rect con­nec­tion and traf­fic flow be­tween Yar­ra­wonga and Mul­wala is vi­tal to our business.” Mul­wala res­i­dent Ken McLean has been a vo­cal sup­porter of the grey route op­tion for some time and he told the Yar­ra­wonga Chron­i­cle the Moira plebiscite was just an- other frus­trat­ing step in the bridge saga. “This con­tin­ued de­bate is go­ing nowhere and the bridge plebiscite isn’t go­ing to add any­thing to the is­sue,” he said.

“The re­al­ity is that the de­ci­sion has been made for the grey op­tion and that the old bridge is go­ing to be re­moved.

“When ac­cept­ing the re­al­ity that the old bridge is not go­ing to stay, the only sen­si­ble op­tion is the grey route which main­tains that vi­tal con­nec­tion be­tween Yar­ra­wonga and Mul­wala. That’s why two state gov­ern­ments, two roads au­thor­i­ties and one coun­cil back that op­tion.

“The other coun­cil hold­ing a plebiscite is a waste of time and money.”

Mr McLean said the on­go­ing de­bate around the bridge route, and the en­su­ing plebiscite, en­sured fund­ing for the Yar­ra­wonga Mul­wala bridge project would con­tinue to be off the agenda for state and fed­eral government.

“If we don’t move for­ward on this and fi­nally all get on the same page the bridge project won’t get funded in our life­times - let alone built,” he said.

“The plebiscite is flawed be­cause you don’t have to vote and the word­ing of it needs to be 100% cor­rect or the re­sult won’t be ac­cu­rate by any means.

“Even so, the re­sult doesn’t mean any­thing when the de­ci­sion has al­ready been made.

“Get the plebiscite out of the way, ac­cept the de­ci­sion and lets, as a com­mu­nity, get to­gether and get the fund­ing for the bridge back on the agenda.

“We can turn this around. If we start work­ing to­gether we can get fund­ing for the bridge in the next five years in­stead of ten years or worse which is what we are look­ing at now.”

Stand­ing in the mid­dle of a busy Bel­more Street, business own­ers Marg Macheda, Sue Big­ger and Mel Bakkum, with for­mer business owner Bernie Bott and pe­ti­tion writer Peter Ben­nett, called for the plebiscite to be aban­doned and the bridge built on the cho­sen route.

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