Stonewalling on bypass rolls into court
COUNCILLOR Sally Townley was nervous yet buoyed by a small band of supporters as she headed into a court conciliation with the Roads and Maritime Service on Monday.
It's the latest chapter in her attempt to gain access to documentation charting design changes for the Coffs Harbour Bypass.
Coffs Harbour is one of the last cities to be bypassed as part of the Pacific Highway duplication.
The community's long-held expectations for three tunnels built through the hills to the west of the city were dealt a blow when concept designs were released last year depicting land bridges and a large cutting.
After a series of freedom of information requests to gain access in relation to these changes were denied, Dr Townley took her case to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
At a meeting in Sydney on May 28 the tribunal ruled the RMS must send an appropriate representative to a mediation session at Coffs Harbour Courthouse to answer questions about the design process.
After a frustrating four-hour tussle in court on Monday it was resolved to hold another mediation on July 30.
"I had hoped that the RMS would produce at least some of the documents I was seeking, but they continue to pull the veil of secrecy over this project. However, we have agreed to continue mediation and I won't give up," Dr Townley said.
Among the band of supporters at the courthouse on Monday was Paul Owens who described the hunt for information as a Pandora's box gradually opening.
"And if we think of what's in the box it could be the biggest hoax ever inflicted on Coffs Harbour," he said.
"I have been a National Party member for almost 40 years and I am perplexed as to how they've handled it.
"We have one woman fighting the machine and that's why we are here supporting her today."
The Coffs Harbour Bypass will be funded under an 80:20 split between the Federal and state governments.