Our say | Victory for roundabout campaign – Take 2

YOU have to wonder if Bathurst Regional Council actually shot itself in the foot over funding for a new roundabout at West Bathurst.

Last June, the community celebrated the end of a 20-year campaign to have a roundabout installed at the intersection of Suttor, Lambert and Mitre streets. It proved to be a false dawn.

Ten months on, with not a single sod of earth turned for the project, council is tonight expected to finally commit to fully funding the roundabout from its own coffers.

Initially council had set aside around half of the cost of the $1.7 million project in the hope the federal government would foot the bill for the other half through its Black Spot Funding Program.

At the same time, though, council also committed to fully funding the project if black spot funding was not made available.

Councillors at the time had little choice given the growing community interest in the project and the fact that council elections were just for few months away.

Having seen its submission for black spot funding fail, however, you have to wonder whether council’s commitment to fully funding the roundabout actually cost Bathurst some government support in the end.

With only a limited amount of funding available for projects right across the country, it’s not hard to imagine the decision-makers taking the easy way out with a project that had already funding committed from another source.

Why would the federal government put in money when council had already committed to putting that same money in itself?

That’s not how the system should work but would seem a pragmatic approach.

Perhaps the test will be just who is invited to the official opening of the roundabout, hopefully early in the new year.

Surely no federal government representative would show their face given the complete lack of support they have shown for the people of Bathurst.

It will also be interesting to see how tonight’s vote goes at council.

There remain some councillors still opposed to the roundabout.

So will they stick to that stance and oppose the full funding or will they vote with the majority if the numbers are clearly going to fall that way? Their decision could determine whether they, too, get an invitation to the opening.