The Wollondilly community feels severely short-changed by the NSW government in the Westinvest Community Round funding allocations in which 15 Councils were eligible for a share of $1.6 billion dollars.
“Receiving less than 1% of the $1.6 billion in available funds in Wollondilly when all our neighbouring councils in the program for at least $50 million and most $100 million or more means that some incredibly worthy projects that were put up by council and community organisations, missed out and I want to see a complete audit and review into the program to find out why,” Mayor of Wollondilly Matt Gould said.
As if to add insult to injury, Hawkesbury, which is the council in the program most similar to Wollondilly, received $121 million worth of projects across their LGA.
“Yet we are getting less than 10% of that and some of the projects we applied for were very, very similar to those that have been funded in multiple other LGA’s,” Cr Gould said, pointing out that only one project put forward by a community organisation other than council got funding in the entire Shire.
“I’m incredibly angry about how badly our community has been treated here and it looks like we’ve either been victims of pork barrelling or they have just treated our residents with contempt,” he said.
The WestInvest program was set up to help fund and deliver transformation projects that will enhance communities and help create jobs throughout Western Sydney. The following projects in Wollondilly received funding in the Community Round:
- $2 million for the Wollondilly Shire Council to deliver Redbank Park Master Plan project which will include an off-leash dog area, amenities and fitness space, playgrounds and passive recreation areas.
- $925,100 for the Tharawal Local Aboriginal Land Council to improve the campsite accommodation facilities at Couridjah.
- $2.8 million for the Wollondilly Shire Council to deliver the Chandos St, Yanderra Shared Path project will construct a new 1.8km shared pathway to link the town centre and sporting grounds to the wider Yanderra community.
While welcoming the funding for these projects, the Wollondilly community feels that there is a long list of examples where the state government has not done the right thing by them – from state managed roads that magically stop at the shire boundaries, to being the only LGA in either our local health district or the 8 parkland councils that doesn’t have a hospital, to the desperately needed Picton Bypass receiving by far the most votes in the Westinvest government round yet still not receiving any funding to date.
Cr Gould said that if the state government is serious about fixing this mess, demonstrating that there was integrity in the process and showing the community that it is actually valued, they could begin by attending to the following:
- Undertake an urgent independent public inquiry and review into the $1.6 billion funding with a full stop to the program and no funding deeds signed until complete;
- Fund the Picton bypass from the $3 billion Westinvest NSW Govt Projects fund;
- Fund an urgent care centre for Wilton;
- Make some of the busiest roads in the Shire like Silverdale Rd and Remembrance Dr State managed roads;
- Ensure the funding of a Koala hospital in Wollondilly and the creation of the Bargo/Nepean National Park;
- Provide a Rapid Bus Service to take more cars off Wollondilly’s roads.
– Sharon Robertson & Brian Laul
Photo: Artists impression from the Redbank Reserve Master Plan