• Tony Bosworth

Upper Colo residents furious at dangerous roads, dumped rubbish and graffiti

Residents of Upper Colo took to social media on Friday to vent their frustration at potholed roads, rubbish dumping and graffiti, and they’re blaming Hawkesbury Council.

Federal MP Susan Templeman said residents should ask the Council what’s happening with the $1.6m Council received as part of the fast-tracked Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, which was applauded by Mayor Patrick Conolly and Hawkesbury MP Robyn Preston back in December last year.

The money was allocated for Colo Heights, Bilpin and St Albans. Since then, no public information or announcements on how the money will be spent has been given by Hawkesbury Council, and even some councillors say they do not know what the money is to be spent on.

Meanwhile, Upper Colo residents are angry about what they see as Council’s dereliction of their duties, especially when it comes to local roads, which they say are dangerous.

The spat kicked off with a post by Paul Bryant who has lived in the area for 20 years and is well known both as a resident and leading RFS firefighter.

“When I talk to the locals they tell me how great the place was and how good it looked,” Mr Bryant said.

He asked fellow residents to report the overgrown vegetation, dumped rubbish and graffiti on the toilet blocks and bridges to the council.

“You may have done it before, as I have, but this is getting dangerous as we have to swerve left and right to avoid potholes that cover the road or peek around corners that we can’t see around and hoping we don’t meet an oncoming car,” Mr Bryant said.

“I'd also invite any councillors to come for a drive and experience the roads that we take our kids to school on or the ones we take to work,” he added.

Two Hawkesbury councillors did answer the call – Deputy Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett and Greens’ Danielle Wheeler both jumped on social media to offer help, support, advice and offering to organise a meeting with council.

Resident Kristi Bryant said the council seemed, “fine to use the place to promote tourism with river photos - I’d hate to imagine what people are thinking when they arrive to the filth that welcomes them along the river, the bridges, and the state of the roads. I am so sad at the dump this place has become.”

Just one example of some of the rubbish routinely dumped at Upper Colo

Cllr Wheeler suggested a meeting with council staff but resident Jane McLaren said, “I find it completely disgusting that in order to have a half decent road we have to have a meeting with Council.

“It’s completely unacceptable that we pay rates and get no services out here.

I personally don’t fork out money to get nothing in return. My rates are on hold.”

The Deputy Mayor said she was sorry residents felt unsupported.

“I wish we could have our entire area free of any substandard roads and pockets of illegal dumping, “ said Cllr Lyons-Buckett.

“Some of us do what we can to draw attention to your plight and work to get improvements.

“Unfortunately there has been a political shift in leadership in the Council, and whereas we try as hard as we can, we are not necessarily able to pursue the priorities we had a few years ago.

“I agree though, things need to be improved. At least a meeting enables you to physically point out the deficiencies and areas in need of improvement.”

Many residents also asked for local contractors to be considered for roadwork repairs, a suggestion the two councillors said would be taken up with council.

Graffiti adorned public toilet block at Upper Colo

“It would be nice to just have the work done when we do the things we’ve been encouraged to do. Over and over again. And when it’s done to have it done properly,” said Ms Bryant.

Federal MP Susan Templeman also joined the discussion and said,” I’m pleased to see two of your 12 councillors, Mary and Danielle, have provided input because that’s the level of Government that looks after these roads.

“I’d also ask Council questions about the $1.6 million they received recently as part of the fast-tracked Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, which I understood was to be shared between bushfire affected areas like Upper Colo, St Albans and Bilpin,” Ms Templeman said.

“I have not been able to get detail and Mary and Danielle may not have either but the Mayor should know,” Ms Templeman said.

“It is half Federal and State money. It was allocated by the NSW government, so your State MP [Robyn Preston] should also know.

“What I do know is that this is the very controversial grant where the Blue Mountains half of my electorate got not a cent because it has a State Labor MP but Hawkesbury did because you have a State Liberal MP - and some of it should be spent on your community!

“It’s your Council who need to prioritise it.”

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