A REPORTER from one of your sister newspapers, the Newcastle Herald, was in Bathurst last week and spoke to your mayor Graeme Hanger.
The mayor extolled the benefits of running car races through the streets of Newcastle, including the opportunity to put your city on the international map. He compared it to Le Mans, France.
I have been to Le Mans and I know Bathurst well. I have driven through it numerous times, worked and stayed there, once owned a property in a nearby village, and I have attended a race at Mount Panorama.
I like the city and do not wish to denigrate it in any way but Bathurst, Australia is not Le Mans, France and never will be.
The differences between the race tracks in our two cities is like chalk and cheese.
Mount Panorama is a purpose-built track located out of town. The Newcastle track, though, is being carved out of the oldest part of Newcastle, the suburb of Newcastle East.
To give you a picture, think of The Rocks in Sydney, or the suburbs of Paddington or Glebe. Newcastle East is one of the oldest parts of the city. It is living history.
People will be living right on the track. Not all the houses have as much as a small verandah between the front door and the footpath. The front doors of some lead directly onto the footpath and on the first floor some have cantilevered balconies which overhang the footpath. These houses will be three metres from the track.
The residents believe that the noise levels will be such that their hearing may be damaged.
Even the limited information released by Supercars is that the noise levels will be higher than would be permitted for health and safety reasons in a workplace.
Supercars has commissioned a noise study but refuses to release it. The advice given to residents is to leave their homes during the races. How many residents of Bathurst are advised to leave their home because of the injurious level of noise?
And the cost? Whatever the cost is, it is being borne by the ratepayers of Newcastle City Council and the state government.
Ratepayers have learned that we paid the Supercars organisation $2 million for the benefit of being chosen to host the races for the next five years.
I am certain that not all the residents of Bathurst welcome the influx of motor car enthusiasts, just as they might not be enthused by The Eddy hotel having its lingerie waitresses on a Friday and Saturday night (as reported in the newspaper article).
Mayor Hanger, your township had the foresight to create a purpose-built track away from its population. Our council either didn't have that foresight or, in their haste to host an international event, they allowed themselves to be neutered.
To my mind, what Newcastle East residents are paying is too heavy a price for the privilege of ogling waitresses attired in nothing more than lingerie while I sip my schooner wearing ear muffs.