Nowhere to go . . . Bellingen Shire residents feel their council is ignoring more than 300 objections.
Nowhere to go . . . Bellingen Shire residents feel their council is ignoring more than 300 objections.

B-double trouble on Bellingen roads

By UTE SCHULENBERG

AGI PETERDI does not mince her words.

"We actually elected this council because we believed they would listen to the community and the community's needs," Ms Peterdi, who lives south of Bellingen at Brierfield, said.

"More than 300 people picked up a pen and wrote to the council about these B-doubles on our roads.

"Just because others didn't, does not mean they don't care. They probably think 'Why bother?' ? the council didn't listen to us on the matter of the fluoride."

Ms Peterdi and others in the Bellingen Shire are angry their responses to the council's advertised request for their opinion was effectively ignored last week, when the council voted (4-3) to retain the status quo on the B-double gazettal assessment process.

Others were annoyed at the way the votes were counted, where one submission was counted as one vote, even if it contained a number of signatures.

Secretary of the Kalang Progress Association (KPA), Andrew West, said the submission from the KPA's 58 members was counted as one vote.

"It doesn't seem fair ? let alone democratic," Mr West said.

The council's director of engineering, Mike Edsall, said the invitation for the community to comment was not an official ballot.

"Actual numerical counting was not the point, we were asking for opinions," Mr Edsall said.

"A different count would not have changed the flavour of the submissions.

"It was clear people thought this was about a blanket approval for B-doubles to go anywhere in the shire. There was never any likelihood of that."

The mayor, Cr Mark Troy, said he also believed there had been a misunderstanding.

"This is a very emotive issue because we are talking big trucks and narrow roads," he said.

"The majority of councillors voted to support the council retaining the current assessment process.

"It may not be perfect but this way the council still retains the right to cancel approval of a gazetted B-double route if it's warranted.

"We don't want to lose that opportunity.

"The process currently advises residents on affected routes to lodge their objections; their issues are then addressed."



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