Fishing club in the poo
By CRAIG McTEAR
PEOPLE power has prevailed in a big stink over poo. But it took a blockade and intense lobbying by Coffs Harbour Deep Sea Fishing Club members to find a way out of the quagmire. The club was to be left without sewerage services for at least five days with the disconnection of their rising main at the Camperdown Street bridge. That disconnection, due yesterday, was required as part of the Rail Track Corporation's dismantling of the old wooden bridge over the rail line. It is being replaced with a new concrete structure. The fishing club had agreed long ago that if the bridge was ever replaced, the club would pay for a temporary sewer connection during the bridge works, and for a new line once it was in place. However, club president Ian Finn said the ARTC would not allow Coffs Harbour City Council staff to anchor a cable above the bridge to support a temporary connection, unless they had completed a one-day training course allowing them to work near rail tracks. The mayor, Cr Keith Rhoades, said the ARTC used to allow exemptions for small jobs, but that arrangement had changed in the past 12 months. That meant the fishing club was faced with a bill of at least $1000 per day to bring in a sewerage pump-out truck, which it wasn't going to wear. "We're not prepared to pay $1000 or more a day on a pump-out to keep the club operating," Mr Finn said. "At the heart of the matter is a bureaucracy that doesn't care." Fishing club members blockaded the bridge early yesterday to prevent contractors resuming their work until the mess was sorted out. Mr Finn had the Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, on the case, and he brought in the big gun ? the Federal Transport Minister, Jim Lloyd ? to try to find a solution. The stalemate culminated in a meeting on-site later in the morning between aggrieved fishing club members and ARTC representatives. Mr Finn said at that meeting, the ARTC had agreed to pay the pump-out costs. "This is the most sensible outcome, which we're very happy with."