Bridge build should be priority
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.