• Tony Bosworth

Hawkesbury City councillor charged and to face court over bridge protest

Councillor Pete Reynolds who sits on Hawkesbury Council as an independent will be appearing at Windsor Local Court next month after being charged by police when he refused to leave old Windsor Bridge during a protest.

Pic courtesy of Paul Caleo

Mr Reynolds says he took part in the Windsor Bridge protest two weeks ago as a private citizen, not as a representative of Hawkesbury Council. He is a past President of Community Action for Windsor Bridge (CAWB).

He has been charged with entering enclosed lands, the legal term usually used when someone enters private land without permission.

Pete Reynolds

“Two weeks ago I walked onto the historic Windsor Bridge in a peaceful act of non-violent direct action with several other community members,” Mr Reynolds said.

“After discussions with the police the others left but I remained. As a result I was arrested and charged with ‘entering enclosed lands’ and bailed to appear before the court in October.”

For almost a decade, Mr Reynolds has been a vocal critic of the development of the new bridge, which is now open, and the state government’s decision to demolish the iconic Windsor Bridge which dates to 1874, making it one of the country’s oldest Colonial-era river crossings.

Demolition of the old bridge is now underway, a $2m project which will see just one section of the bridge remain as a viewing platform. Protestors had wanted the bridge to stay intact as part of Windsor’s heritage.

“It has been a long hard battle to try to save our square and our bridge from this brutal and destructive Liberal government,” Mr Reynolds said.

“In my heart I had to know I had done everything I could to protect what they are determined to destroy. This was the reason for my action.

“I want to make it clear that I acted as a private citizen and not as a representative of Hawkesbury City Council in this instance. Even though Council too, supports the retention of the historic bridge, along with the findings of the official Parliament of NSW Inquiry.”

“While this whole project has been shameful and dishonest from its inception, it has been a wonderful privilege to join with so many great people to try to protect what is important to the Hawkesbury community,” he added.

“I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to members of the Hawkesbury police LAC for their understanding.”

(Below, we publish a statement from Mr Reynolds’ about Windsor Bridge and his arrest and charge.)

Statement from Pete Reynolds

“Former President of Community Action for Windsor Bridge (CAWB) and current Councillor at Hawkesbury City Council, Pete Reynolds, was arrested and charged on Monday 14 September 2020 as he protested against the continued destruction of Windsor’s heritage.

“The Windsor Bridge Replacement Project has been dishonest and damaging to our community since its inception. It has failed to provide the infrastructure our community desperately needs, whilst simultaneously destroying priceless Australian heritage.

“Quite demonstrably, the new bridge is a $137 million traffic failure. My arrest recently, for peacefully occupying the historic Windsor Bridge, was born out of frustration at the Berejiklian Government’s lack of transparency and respect. At every stage of this project the NSW Government has rejected the advice of experts, including its own. It has ignored the recommendation of the Parliamentary Inquiry to retain the historic bridge and it has ignored a resolution of Hawkesbury City Council calling for a halt to demolition.

“The damage this project has done to the Thompson Square heritage precinct is vast, and I want Gladys Berejiklian to look me in the eye and tell me WHY our heritage bridge must also be destroyed. To date not a single excuse given by the Government has withstood scrutiny.

“I have stood side by side with the community for nearly a decade as they called for a better solution for traffic and for protection of the Hawkesbury’s valued heritage, and I have shown the courage of my convictions. I want to make it clear that I have acted as a private citizen in this instance, and not as a representative of Hawkesbury City Council.

“My ancestors helped build this bridge and this wanton spiteful destruction of our heritage is personal to me, as it is for many members of the Hawkesbury community. I made a stand for those in the community who value what makes the Hawkesbury special, and for those people who are no longer with us, including the late Jack Mundey, Vice President of CAWB Noel Butler, respected bridge engineer Ray Wedgwood and my own mum, Margaret. They were all steadfast to the end in their support for this cause.

“There are those who will choose to whip up politics and hysteria, but the truth is, this has never been about politics, but about standing up for transparent decision making, good infrastructure planning and respecting the values of the community.”

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