Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Letter to Cessnock Council

Cessnock City Council
Att: Darren McKimm

To whom it may concern,

I am quite bemused by the local politics of the Cunneens Bridge issue in Wollombi and the peer pressure and scaremongering that is going on by a very small group within the community.

Council has clearly listened to the community and option 3 is by far the best for the physical heritage issues of the location, has less cumulative impact on the affected landowners and should be adopted and promptly actioned so that the bridge can carry local, tourist and emergency (heavy fire vehicle) traffic again. Having to store a fire tanker on that side of the bridge for emergency use is a joke.

Council do have something to answer for. The bridge has been left to rot for many years now so it is now beyond hope as a working bridge. It should have been properly maintained and restoration would still be a viable option.

Having said that, those with vested interests within the community that have held this up for far too long are as much to blame. Let's hope no-one dies in a fire due to lack of access by a tanker.

Over the past few weeks, it has been reported that many residents (and visitors for that matter) have been harangued into signing a petition supporting option 2 (upstream) with very little or no explanation of the real issues and the benefits of the downstream options, particularly option 3.

I believe you have already received some emails/letters from signatories retracting their support for the upstream option through that petition, having learned the truth of the matter at a later stage (through either attending or having conversation with people that attended the Progress meeting).

Consequently, that petition should be viewed with very little weight and the letters and emails freely written directly to Council on this issue be the basis of Council's community advice towards their decision.

Yes, landowners on both sides have some legitimate concerns, and the Cunneens Bridge Group has real preservations concerns. Option 3 however, addresses these concerns in the best possible way. Any other proposed interests and reasons for continued fighting are just the dying noises of a losing argument.

On that point, the other issue that is being used as a threat is a letter (with no maps or diagrams) outlining the "Wollombi Brook Cultural Precinct" that states that "This vision will only be possible if the new bridge is built on the UPSTREAM side of Cunneens Bridge", which is just ridiculous! As Council representatives have clearly pointed out (and as evidenced by the plan itself) the confluence of Congewai Creek and Wollombi Brook is nowhere near the bridge and none of the options have any impact whatsoever on "This Vision".

I'm happy to publish that outline of the project if the author would like to send it to me along with their permission, and any Wollombi residents or Council representatives are free to have their say on Wollombi Valley Online (where this letter, the Council Documents and other posts on the issue have been published without favour).

Option 3 has my full support.

I'd like to add three notes.

  1. I'm sure that no-one in this community would mind having the 50km/h local traffic zone extended beyond the bridge from Wollombi, especially if there will be an increase in pedestrian traffic at that location. This could allow the curves to be a little tighter and use even less private land.
  2. The new bridge should not be called "Cunneens Bridge" as the old one with that name will remain. "New Cunneens Bridge" or "Cunneens Crossing" are two options to retain Patrick Cunneen's name.
  3. All signage on bridges crossing Congewai Creek currently incorrectly displaying "Wollombi Brook North Arm" should be replaced and the creek correctly identified.

Let's build a bridge, NOW!


Peter Firminger
Yango Creek Road
C/- Wollombi General Store
4998 3388

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