Highway robbery: use Bells Line of Road or pay distance-based toll on the M4

MOTORISTS travelling from the Central West to Sydney will be forced to use the Bells Line of Road or pay a toll as the government introduces a distance-based toll on the M4.

The move will result in an increase in traffic on the notorious Bells Line of Road says Orange councillor Jeff Whitton.

Cr Whitton, travels to Sydney regularly for work and says the implementation of a toll on the M4, by the state government, was revenue-raising and left regional people out-of-pocket because the alternative route was a far more difficult road to drive on and had patches of no mobile phone reception.

“Well the Bells Line is a road, not a highway like the Great Western Highway which is designed for that type of traffic,” he said.

“A lot of people from regional centres don’t have e-tags so they will avoid the tolls and have to use the Bells Line.”

From mid-2017 motorists travelling from the Central West to Central in Sydney, via the M4 will have to pay $4.21.

The toll has been introduced to pay for the upgrade and widening of the M4 to four lanes in each direction from Church Street to Homebush Bay as part of the first stage of WestConnex.

According to a Roads and Maritime Services spokeswoman the toll charge is based on distance travelled, similar to the tolls on the M7.

“This is a fairer, more equitable system made possible by electronic tolling and ensures motorists are only paying for the roads they’re using,” she said.

“The maximum toll for the M4 widening between Church Street, Parramatta and Homebush Bay Drive, Homebush will be $4.21, with a minimum toll for travel between Silverwater Road and Hill Road of $1.63.”

The spokeswoman said all tolled roads have alternative options for motorists.

In the case of the Great Western Highway, which becomes the M4, the Bells Line of Road is the alternative.

According to the Bells Line Expressway lobbyists there are 19 speed variations on the Bells Line of Road, it has up to 26 kilometres where motorists are without a safe overtaking opportunity and the Bells Line of Road experiences around twice the typical rates of crashes as other roads in NSW.

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Chaffey a ‘level’ playing field

BIGGER BUT LOWER: The newly enlarged Chaffey Dam is still holding the same amount of water but its official capacity percentages changed over this week because of the new water level figures. Photo: Geoff O Neill 180516GOD08IT’S taken a few years to turn the main Tamworth water supply Chaffey Dam from a small dam to a bigger dam.

But, in the space of a couple of days, it appears Tamworth has officially got something even bigger than they bargained for.

It’s official this week Chaffey Dam is actually a couple of thousand megalitres bigger than anyone’s been talking about since the dam augmentation was announced some five years back.

The news has taken some by surprise mostly anyone who’s been reporting on the project and certainly users, including the Tamworth council.

But it’s been a surprise greeted with general good grace. We’ve got a bonus, an extra 2868 megalitres in the pool of water.

Until Thursday, when WaterNSW confirmed it, the newly-enlarged Chaffey Dam had always been put at a capacity of 100,000 ML, up from the original 62,000ML of the old dam.

That’s created a couple of little ripples, not least because new water plans and importantly drought- and water-control plans have been drawn up by Tamworth Regional Council, which has thrown them some wobblies to wrestle with, particularly with their new drought-management plan, adopted only last month.

The trigger levels for when Tamworth moves between restrictions and different watering rules is set out in black and white in that 60-page document, but based on the 100,000 megalitre capacity.

Tamworth Regional Council water chief Bruce Logan said yesterday the plans would need to be adjusted but there also needed to be some examination of the new levels as well because, on the face of it, they need to clarify exactly whether Chaffey is sitting at the WaterNSW figure, when their figures suggest it should be 1 percent more.

That 1 per cent is critical, because, under the new plan, when Chaffey now falls to 20 per cent, that triggers the emergency Level 5 rules.

That’s likely to be reached in about a week, if Tamworth consumers continue to use up the same amount of water they have been for the past few weeks.

Level 5 doesn’t mean much difference to the ordinary householder or domestic user but it does call for more commerce and industry to cut their consumption patterns by another 25 per cent.

Over the past five or six years, there’s been more than $55 million spent to upgrade and enlarge Chaffey Dam, with over $44 million on the latest augmentation and more recent upgrade works.

Tamworth Regional Council kicked in about $4 million of that $44 million.

Meanwhile, Tamworth water users are being asked to cut down their consumption alongside obeying new stricter outside rules that come into place today.

More than 20,000 water properties come under the new Level 4 restrictions, including Tamworth, Moonbi and Kootingal users of residential, commercial and industrial water from the city’s treated system.

The new rules came into place when Chaffey Dam dropped to 35 per cent last week, a watermark figure in terms of new tougher rules, but also a switchover to the new Chaffey Dam total capacity point in the wake of the enlarged dam works being completed.

Under the new rules, all outside watering of properties is banned. About 15 high-profile council parks and gardens, including sporting fields, will still continue to be watered because they are all on bore water supplies or recycled systems.

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‘Hands tied’ by healthcare cuts

FUNDING RETHINK: Nurses Kerrie Vane, Lynne Harris and Deborah Walganski. Photo: Geoff O’Neill 200516GOA01MORE chronically ill patients will be seen by hospitals and staff retention could take a hit, according to NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association members in Tamworth – who say their hands have been tied by the cuts to health in this year’s budget.

Seven NSWNMA members stood with their hands literally tied, in front of a billboard near Moonbi on Friday, calling on the federal government to rethink recent cuts to health to the tune of $57 billion.

Local registered nurse and midwife Alison Fisher said Friday’s protest was a call for support from the public.

“If they cut the Medicare levy, therefore bulk billing, then there will be more privatisation,” she said. “We will be seeing an increase in chronic illnesses that will mean more admissions to hospital.”

Ms Fisher also said the cuts to Medicare bulk billing incentives would make healthcare less affordable for the general public.

“People will get sick and not be able to afford healthcare; Medicare has been our stopgap for so long,” she said.

“It was introduced to stop inequality in health care.”

Fellow member Kelly Ison said cuts to penalty rates would have an impact on retention rates in country hospitals.

“If we lose our penalty rates, we won’t be able to retain these staff, especially on weekends and night duties,” Ms Ison said.

“They won’t give up their social life to be a nurse.”

Tamworth aged care nurse Gerard Ryan said federal funding had been a constant struggle.

“We just don’t have enough staff in any facility across the country to properly give care to people, and it’s getting harder,” Mr Ryan said.

“It’s a lot worse in regional areas because there’s a lot less facilities in regional areas.”

The local nurses said they were also hoping to talk with New England MP Barnaby Joyce about their concerns.

Ms Fisher hoped Mr Joyce would “have a rethink about these cuts and what they mean to everyday Australians”.

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New charges laid in mother murder case

FRESH charges have been laid against the man accused of the murder of his mother in Inverell.

CRASH CHARGES: Bradley Mottram was arrested on the Copeton Dam Rd on October 19. Photo: Harold Konz

Bradley Mottram appeared via video link in Armidale Local Court on Wednesday from a Sydney prison where he is being held on remand, charged with the murder of his 51-year-old mother, Simone Mottram.

Detectives from Strike Force Lotred – the police operation set up by New England detectives in the wake of the alleged murder – have now laid three fresh charges against the 19-year-old accused.

Mottram was arrested on October 19, last year after he allegedly crashed his mother’s red Hyundai Getz down an embankment off the Copeton Dam Rd, about 30 minutes out of Inverell.

Ms Mottram was allegedly stabbed several times in her Froude St home before her body was discovered by police and paramedics.

Mottram is yet to enter a plea to the charge of murder but is now also facing charges of taking a vehicle without permission, driver never-licensed and negligent driving.

It comes as his solicitor made an application to the court for extra time to seek expert medical evidence.

On Wednesday, the court heard the extensive brief of evidence compiled by detectives had been served on the defence.

Solicitor Wendy McAuliffe said she needed a further adjournment to allow specialist doctors to assess Mottram.

“We still need two months,” Ms McAuliffe told the court.

“We are arranging for a psychiatrist to see Mr Mottram.

“Hopefully that will be completed by July 20.

“We are moving as quickly as we can, but another adjournment can’t be avoided.”

Magistrate Michael Holmes granted the adjournment, but put the defence on notice the case needed to progress on the next occasion.

“Use this time efficiently,” he said.

“My whole aim is to get matters from this court to (Armidale District and Supreme Court) next door.

“It takes months and it’s just there.”

Mottram made no application for bail and it was formally refused.

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Kids are in for a hot date with fire stations thrown open today

ALARMS SET: Gunnedah Fire Station Commander Rod Byrnes with fire fighters Mark Sawyer, Paul Hartley, David Moses and David Welch. Photo: Vanessa Hohnke, The Namoi Valley IndependentThe region’s fire stations will open their doors to young and old for the annual NSW Fire and Rescue Open Day today.

With firefighting demonstrations, station tours and the opportunity to see a fire truck up close on offer, there’s plenty to see and do, Gunnedah Fire Station Commander Rod Byrnes said.

“There’s a free sausages sizzle and also some public giveaways. Lego have come on board this year with some packs for the kids to put together, “he said.

“The kids just love the open days – they love to get into the fire truck.”

And, while it might be all fun and games for the kids, Commander Byrnes said there was a serious side to the open days with pamphlets and fire safety advice for parents.

“We hand out pamphlets on awareness and evacuation plans for the home and information on smoke detectors and so on,” he said.

“As it is the tenth year that smoke detectors have been mandatory in the home, we want to make people aware of the new style of photoelectric smoke alarm that is more sensitive to smoke and works better.

“This year we’re encouraging residents to replace their out-dated alarms.”

Regional fire stations will be open from 10am until 2pm today.

To find your nearest fire station open day, visit 苏州美甲美睫培训学校fire.nsw. gov419论坛

Meanwhile, in Tamworth on Sunday, those who miss out on the open day festivities are invited to Bunnings Warehouse for a fundraiser barbecue between 8.30am and 3.30pm.

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