Strong message to politicians

IT might have fallen off the political radar recently but not from the thoughts of Coffs Coast residents.

Only days out from going to the polls the people of Coffs Harbour have overwhelmingly called for urgent action from Macquarie Street on a bypass of Coffs Harbour.

In a sign of their growing frustration and anger over the daily battle faced by commuters forced to share the city with through traffic and B-doubles, they have also emphatically indicated they want something done immediately.

The demand for a city bypass was one of the stand-out results from the Advocate’s Pre-Election Snapshot survey.

More than 500 people responded in writing and online to the 28-question poll.

A staggering 98% of all respondents said they want a bypass of Coffs Harbour.

Of those, three-quarters want work to start within the next two years.

That could be problematic for whoever is elected to govern NSW and

to represent the electorate of Coffs Harbour given residents have also voiced their opposition to the route selected by the Roads and Traffic Authority.

It was in September 2008 that the Federal Minister for Roads, Anthony Albanese, released details of the Roads and Traffic Authority’s preferred inner bypass route for public comment.

That comment has now been crystallised in the Advocate’s Snapshot with two-thirds of respondents saying they want a far western bypass and only one-third supporting the inner route which leaves the Pacific Highway at Englands Road and scouts west of Roselands Estate, hugs the base of the city’s mountain backdrop and rejoins the highway at Korora.

The supporters of the preferred inner route noted in their responses to the Snapshot that they thought the far western bypass would be prohibitively costly and therefore take too long to be brought to fruition.

The supporters of the concept commented that only a far western bypass would keep pollution and noise out of the city while at the same time allowing it to grow.

Given the obvious disquiet about the current state of the highway, Advocate readers have also rated the upgrading of the Warrell Creek to Urunga stretch of the Pacific Highway a top priority, and 92% steadfastly rejected the notion of B-triples carrying freight on our roads.

When it came to the obvious alternative, 88% said they wanted to see rail replace road as the preferred delivery method along the coast and 91% showed their support for an initiative which was first investigated at least 20 years ago for a rail freight hub to be established locally.

When it came to the issue of seatbelts being compulsory on school buses, the incoming Government can be in no doubt about what the people want. An overwhelming 85% of respondents support the idea. Not surprisingly in the wake of the furore over the Government’s approval of concept plans for Hearnes Lake, 63% of residents said they wanted Part 3A scrapped. Almost three-quarters said the 200-lot Sandy Shores residential development should not proceed but there was more support for the proposed developments at Emerald Beach and south of Moonee going ahead.

The proponents of the Bonville Golf Resort housing development should be heartened by support of almost three to one for their project going ahead.

The Snapshot also revealed strong support for a new police station and courthouse complex for Coffs Harbour with a majority of respondents preferring the Pacific Highway/Beryl St site (50.2%) over a redevelopment of the existing Moonee Street complex (38%). Of those who wanted a different site, there was support for the Showground, Park Beach, Hogbin Dr and Brelsford Park to be potential homes for a new justice hub.

The Snapshot has shown the community remains divided over where a new civic centre and entertainment precinct for the city should be established. While more people support City Hill over Brelsford Park (59.4% to 54.2%), fewer people (35.8%) are opposed to Brelsford Park being redeveloped compared to 40.6% saying they are against City Hill becoming home to such a complex.

It is not just the city council which will need to take time to mull over the results of the survey. While it found the new zonings for the Solitary Islands Marine Park were equally supported and opposed, 60% of people indicated they didn’t want the park or the no-take zones within it expanded.

It should be noted that while four of the candidates participated fully with our Snapshot, The Greens’ Rodney Degens did not return any of the Advocate’s phone messages, so unfortunately we are unable to provide you with his take on the issues which are important to Coffs Harbour.

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