Councils across the Upper Hunter will soon receive a share in $1.8 million for urgent pothole repairs under the NSW Government's $50 million Fixing Local Roads Pothole Repair program.
Singleton Council is to receive close to $300,000 for urgent pothole repairs in a "welcome but small first step" to repairing the area's estimated $15 million of road damage caused by multiple flood events, according to Mayor Sue Moore.
While the injection is appreciated, Singleton Mayor Sue Moore said the current condition of road damage across NSW was beyond "the reasonable scope of any local government authority to address". The mayor has called on both State and Federal governments to accelerate and increase funding to councils across NSW.
"The NSW Government's Fixing Local Roads Pothole program is a welcome but small first step to providing the assistance councils across our State need to undertake road repairs as a result of ongoing wet weather and floods," Cr Moore said.
"Council staff have calculated the cost of repairs to our road network at $15 million, and this figure continues to climb as further assessments are undertaken. The extent of the damage stretches right across our local government area.
"We are appreciative that Singleton will reportedly share in a total of more than $1.8 million along with Dungog Shire Council, Muswellbrook Shire Council, Upper Hunter Shire Council, Liverpool Plains Shire Council, Mid-Western Regional Council and MidCoast Council from this initiative.
"However, significantly more assistance is required urgently from both the Federal and NSW governments to address roads issues in Singleton."
Cr Moore said financial support could be provided via an acceleration and "significant increase" in funding of the $1.1 billion Fixing Local Roads and Fixing Country Bridges program from the NSW Government; a boost to Road Block Grant funding to compensate for the damage to the regional road network from the Federal Government; and new funding to provide councils with plant machinery and skilled workers to expedite road repairs from the Federal Government.
"As it stands, the damage to our road network poses safety risks for motorists as well as impacts for our local economy," she said.
"The situation is beyond the reasonable scope of any local government authority to address and could result in greater issues for our community in the future if action is not taken now.
"I have written to the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, the NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns and our local members of Parliament to request urgent assistance as a matter of priority.
"I have also extended an invitation to our elected representatives to visit Singleton to personally inspect the damage to our road network and other impacts of these disasters on our community."
Muswellbrook Shire Council said it's clear that the recent grant funding was not intended to be the solution to fixing all potholes and damage caused by recent rain and flood events across this and neighbouring council areas, but rather a cash injection to help move along repairs. Council's Acting General Manager Derek Finnigan said persistent heavy rainfall over the past two years, including events of a scale that have required natural disaster declarations to be made for Muswellbrook Shire, have resulted in serious deterioration in the condition of council's road network.
Member for Upper Hunter, Dave Layzell said that was money going straight into the bank accounts of councils to help them "cover the extra costs and workload pressures following this year's unprecedented rain and storms."
According to Mr Layzell, MidCoast Council is to receive $1,246,544; Dungog Shire Council: $247,866; Muswellbrook Shire Council: $219,432, Upper Hunter Shire Council: $591,431; Liverpool Plains Shire Council: $511,186 and Mid-Western Regional Council: $778,670.
"These grants of more than $1.8 million are a rapid injection of cash to help councils get on with the job of repairing potholes to get us through the wet summer ahead," Mr Layzell said.
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said all 94 regional councils that applied for funding had been approved for grants.
"This additional support will help councils to repair their most damaged roads, improving safety and reducing wear and tear on vehicles," Mr Farraway said.
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