JULY 27, 2016
REZONING WILL IMPACT RURAL AREA
You would have had to have been hiding under a rock not to know that last week Cessnock Council approved the Newcastle Muslim Association's development application for a mosque in Buchanan.
They stated that only "planning principles" were considered in approving this application. The overwhelming number of community objections did not appear to count.
Yet, as I write this, Cessnock Council have on exhibition another rezoning application that would eclipse that of the mosque's development in terms of impact in a rural area.
It is not beyond the realms of possibility that they will approve the rezoning of 195 hectares in the adjacent rural area of Black Hill to allow for industrial development.
Again, despite overwhelming objection to this proposal last time it was on exhibition in 2014, Cessnock Council has persistently pushed this on the community and, in my opinion, totally ignored the "planning principles" they purport to hold so dear.
Any "blind Freddy" could see that this 195-hectare rezoning, next to an already zoned 183-hectare industrial estate hectares, is just not needed!
When will Cessnock Council start to respect rural communities? Will they choose to apply their "planning principles" to this application?
Sadly, because the landholder in this case is the Catholic Church and council has looked favourably on this proposal in the past, I doubt community opposition will count for much once again.
Cathy Talley, Black Hill
MOSQUE DECISION AGAINST COMMUNITY’S WISHES
Shame on the Aldermen and women of Cessnock Council who voted for the mosque to be built at Buchanan. You turned your back on the people of the community.
It turns my mind back to the Rothbury Riots, when some of the men went back to work against mate’s wishes. Then they were fighting for their rights – this will never be forgotten.
The councillors who voted for the mosque at Buchanan will also never be forgotten.
Brian Witherspoon, Kurri Kurri
JULY 20, 2016
TOURISM BENEFITS THE WHOLE CESSNOCK LGA
The majority of Cessnock Councillors have voted to leave the promotion of the Cessnock LGA to those they believe will benefit from a tourism-led recovery – rather than take any part in promoting the area themselves.
The Tourist Information Centre is becoming the dead end of town and has lost its relevance as a true information centre for all the region.
The council’s new “user pays” approach to the promotion of this local government area shows they do not understand that a thriving tourism industry provides benefits to everyone – including itself.
It is resulting in a factionalised approach to promotion rather than a big picture perspective to benefit all. A co-ordinated line of action to establish jobs and retain those that exist today in the tourism industry is essential for this growing industry to develop and thrive.
Giving away the title of “Gateway to the Hunter” to Singleton last year demonstrates how out of touch our elected representatives are. Tourists coming to the Hunter need to know where the service centres are for all their needs.
The promotion of Pokolbin as the centre of the Hunter’s tourism industry has its problems. All areas in the Cessnock LGA have something to offer our visitors – Kurri Kurri, Weston, Wollombi and other towns in the area all have something to contribute to the Hunter experience.
We need to be selling the whole Hunter package and we want to encourage people to stay for the week not just the day.
With the upcoming council elections we need to attract new councilors who have a passion to see the tourism industry to further develop and create jobs lost in the downturn of the coal industry.
John Harvey, Cessnock
BRING BACK THE TRAIN
Now the State Government terminated the trains from to Wickham into Newcastle, why aren't they talking to the local people about extending rail services from Maitland along the old SMR lines towards Buttai from South Cessnock into Maitland Station? This would be good for future generations.
Raymond Hall, Kurri Kurri
JULY 13, 2016
GIVE A GREYHOUND A HOME
The news that greyhound racing will be banned in NSW and the ACT is most welcome.
As Premier Mike Baird said, this industry is responsible for the unnecessary slaughtering of tens of thousands of healthy dogs.
Now that the industry has been given notice to close down, the fate of thousands more is uncertain.
The government must ensure that the greyhound racing industry stops all breeding programs immediately in order to make certain that there are not even more dogs in need of "forever homes".
Over the next year, any money earmarked for building or renovating tracks should be reallocated to promote desexing and dog-adoption programs.
Greyhounds are gentle, friendly dogs who love nothing better than human company, a kind word and a loving touch.
If you are thinking of taking a new companion into your home, a greyhound, or any shelter dog, will offer loyalty and affection.
Please don’t buy a dog from a breeder and sentence one of these beautiful animals to an early death; adopt a companion and offer him or her, and yourself, many years of joy and love.
JUNE 29, 2016
BATS DON’T LIKE NOISE
Regarding the bat problem, it could be as simple as gas guns the vineyards use.
They could be hired now as the grapes are finished from the vineyards, if security is guaranteed for the time required.
I have been following this disaster and if follows along the lines of the whip cracking.
It would be through the day, I could put up with it if it moves the bats on with no harm to them.
Ear plugs may be required, it would only be for a short time, much better than what the residents are experiencing at the moment.
It is a consideration. I just feel so much for the residents.
I get the bats from time to time here when the bottle brush is flowering, and the noise is awful.
Lynette Plummer, Bellbird
WILL CESSNOCK BE IGNORED YET AGAIN
Yet again, another election. Yet again, Cessnock is totally ignored by every major political party.
Yet again, no announcements of anything being fixed. Yet again, no visits by any politicians.
Yet again nothing happens. Why?
Because Cessnock has been a safe seat since Federation.
I would love to see no other candidate stand in Cessnock against the incumbent — maybe this would show staunch Labor voters that you are taken for granted.
Cessnock, you deserve all you get.
Peter McNeill, Wallaby Gully
WHAT ABOUT BEDS FOR HOSPITALS
In response to two articles in the Advertiser last week (June 22).
Article one: 620 new beds for Cessnock prison. It was about two weeks ago that prisoners set fire to their cell – they don’t value their beds.
What about more beds for hospitals and homeless people who don’t have a bed to sleep on?
Typical the way the government works.
Article two: the story of the pub roof is ridiculous. What has heritage got to do with the roof?
Tin roofs were around in those days. The Colorbond would look better and be stronger and preserve the building.
Brian Witherspoon, Kurri Kurri
HOW IT ALL CAN CHANGE IN AN INSTANT
Saturday last after doing some work at home in the morning I decided to head up the coalfields for lunch.
On my return home I came up Vincent Street about 2pm. Not concentrating I missed seeing a lady step onto the pedestrian crossing, locked up my brakes and motorcycle and myself end up on the road narrowly missed the lady on crossing.
First up I would like to extend an apology to the lady involved, my fault entirely, should have been paying more attention after 36 years riding this shouldn’t have happened.
Imagine if I had struck the pedestrian on the crossing, suddenly everything changes, the victim is injured or worse, causing pain and suffering to her and her family, I’m taken to court, maybe lose my house all because of a stupid moment of inattention.
In this fast-paced modern world cars are sold on the ability to provide distractions whilst driving (bluetooth connectivity etc.) but on the road you must learn to put aside all these distractions and concentrate on the road don't take it for granted.
Neil McLeod, Lake Macquarie
JUNE 8, 2016
BATS HAVE A BETTER LIFESTYLE THAN WE DO
I’m writing in reference to the front page story in the Advertiser on May 25, regarding the bat colony at East Cessnock.
Hunter Wildlife Rescue spokesperson Audrey Koosman states that residents should be more educated about the bats.
As a long-term resident of East Cessnock and as my property is on the border of the colony, I think I am well-educated on co-habiting with these animals.
I have learned that I must be home by approximately 5.30pm every day to get my car and myself undercover before they fly out daily, dropping their faeces everywhere.
I must not walk on my paths or lawn barefoot or with my shoes on as the faeces gets traipsed into my home. I must not allow my grandchildren to play in my huge yard as children are meant to do, in case they get faeces on their clothes, etc, when rolling in the grass.
I cannot expect friends or family to visit at night as their cars get peppered with dung and I cannot entertain outdoors as the furniture is also polluted and it won’t come off easily, a real waste of time as it is back the very next day.
I must be content with a house and fences splattered with faeces, which when you try to remove it the paint comes off too. I must not complain about the gagging smell and incessant noise that is there all the time.
So you see, I am already educated in this matter, and I wonder what first-hand knowledge you have on this subject.
It seems the bats have a better lifestyle than I, as they can come and go as they please, make as much smell, mess and noise as they do, and seem to get a lot more sympathy that the residents of East Cessnock.
I also feel sorry for residents who have solar panels installed at great expense, as they will be useless sometime in the future because of the bat faeces landing on them continuously.
Pamela Jeffery, Cessnock
SEEKING HELP IS NOT WEAK
Next week (June 13 to 19) is Men’s Health Week.
Some men will disagree with this information but most women will agree: that male identity is strongly tied to a reluctance to seek help, and that I can cope by myself is a common thought process.
Many men believe it isn’t masculine to reach out for help and they let male pride get in the way of seeking information, advice and support. There was a sentiment that men know everything and therefore seeking help was admission of weakness.
But there is some information men really need to know. It is that men take their own lives at four times the rate of women, and accidents, cancer, and heart disease account for the majority of other male deaths.
But while this could be enough to make a man throw his arms up and admit defeat, men need to make informed decisions to improve their lifestyle and it’s OK to say they have a problem or that there may be something wrong.
The old saying “She’ll be alright, mate” just doesn’t cut it these days.
We create our own destiny by the way we do things and to take advantage of opportunities that arise and be responsible for those choices we make. You cannot change the past what you have or not have done but you are in control of your future.
Men have got to remember there are health professional and support groups like ours out there where they can receive information, awareness and support no matter which stage of their journey they may be up to.
Barry Preston (Chairman), Cessnock Prostate Cancer Support Group
JUNE 1, 2016
VEGAN DIET CAN HELP THE ENVIRONMENT
This World Environment Day, June 5, please do something to help wildlife – as well as cows, chickens, pigs, sheep and other farmed animals: go vegan.
Climate change is the biggest threat to animals in the wild, particularly in the oceans, where warming temperatures and acidity levels are killing the Great Barrier Reef and fish who rely on coral reefs to survive.
Scientists at Cape Grim station in Tasmania predict that carbon in the atmosphere is rising steadily and is reaching a catastrophic level from which there is "no going back".
But we can still combat climate change – and save lives – and we can do it just by eating tasty vegan meals. Plant-based foods require fewer resources and cause less greenhouse-gas emissions than do animal-based foods.
Research shows that you can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that your diet contributes to climate change by up to 60 percent, just by going vegan.
So "go wild for life", as the World Environment Day organisers suggest, and show you care about all living beings by simply going vegan.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Australia
STROKE FOUNDATION SAYS THANK YOU
On behalf of the Stroke Foundation I would like to thank the thousands of Australians who helped take the pressure down this April by participating in Australia’s Biggest Blood Pressure Check.
During April, the Stroke Foundation, in partnership with Priceline Pharmacy, aimed to deliver 50,000 free blood pressure checks around the country and raise vital awareness of the risks associated with stroke.
With your support we exceeded this total, delivering more than 56,000 checks across the country.
Australia’s Biggest Blood Pressure Check is an opportunity for all Australians to learn about stroke and how they can reduce their own risk.
I am confident that there are thousands of people in the community who are more informed and can take control of their health after the campaign.
However, there are many things we can all do to help protect ourselves, like being aware of and managing our blood pressure, getting more active, maintaining a healthy diet, stopping smoking, reducing our alcohol consumption.
Last year alone, an estimated 50,000 strokes occurred in the Australian community. But it does not have to be this away.
Thanks to our incredible supporters more Australians are aware of their stroke risk than ever before.
But our work doesn’t stop here – it is our mission to ensure everyone understands what a stroke is and what they can do to avoid having one.
As we head towards the federal election, our major parties have a real opportunity to join with us and help us to beat stroke.
Take this opportunity to ask your local candidates what they will do for stroke.
Join with us to call on party leaders to set aside political difference and commit to national plan to stop stroke, save lives and end suffering.
It will take the combined efforts of the community, health professionals and government to achieve this mission. I know together we can fight stroke and win.
Chief Executive Officer
MAY 18, 2016
BURNING RUBBER BLUES
When does our part-time police service intend to redirect deliberately stupid and disrespectful hoon drivers in this town to the criminal court system?
Look at any street or carpark within town and note the tyre marks. Listen to the ceaseless burnouts at nightfall and ask: 'Why does anyone have to keep tolerating this bad behavior?
When is enough actually enough? Because it's not getting any better.
Stephen Bennet, Cessnock
GLENMORE PRIVATE HOSPITAL
I am looking for any information or images of the old private hospital, Glenmore, on the corner of McGrane and Leonard streets, Cessnock.
Mark Adnum, Cessnock
DO IT ONCE, DO IT RIGHT
I recently observed a road crew do some work on Railway Street, right near the Hampden Street intersection where a rough surface sign has been displayed since November 2015 (maybe longer).
I wondered why the crew didn't do the Hampden Street job at the same time as the Railway Street job.
Even if it wasn't under their jurisdiction, why couldn't they have done it and charged the relative authority?
This is an example of why it costs as much as it does to do this type of work.
Bill Parkes, Pelaw Main
DON'T SHOOT THE MESSENGER
It was with great dismay that I read reactions to your lead article “Land of Fat and Smokes”.
Those who criticised The Advertiser for publishing the article are guilty of shooting the messenger.
The free press should be commended for reminding people of the potential health problems associated with obesity and smoking.
It seems to be a case of people finding the truth inconvenient, not taking responsibility and attempting to shift the blame, whether it be onto governments or supermarkets.
Ralph Martens, Pokolbin
FAIR GO FOR DAIRY FARMERS
Someone in politics needs to be doing something to help dairy farmers get a fair price for raw milk at the farm gate.
We need a price that lets dairy farmers feed and support their families, care for the country they farm and maintain and purchase new machinery needed to run the farm.
As things stand dairy farmers are unable to make enough money to feed their own families.
Would you go to work for 12 to 14 hours a day for nothing? I don’t think so.
In the mid-80s Victoria and New South Wales between them had about 20,000 working dairy farms. Now, to date, there are about 6,000 and those farm numbers are falling.
At this rate the consensus is it won’t be long before Australia will be importing milk for our own use, which is bloody ridiculous to even think about.
Federal minister Barnaby Joyce, NSW minister Niall Blair abd Victorian minister Jaala Pulford should do something about this straight away.
If they haven’t the heart or internal fortitute to do what needs to be done and sort it out, they need to be replaced by someone who does.
Mark Leman, Abermain
MAY 11, 2016
TIME TO MOVE ON
In response to N Davis of Buchanan ('Not an appropriate location', The Advertiser 27/4/16), Buchanan is zoned rural but rural pursuits are few and far between in the area.
There is a large coal mine to the east and Maitland garbage dump to the north, and Buchanan Road is the feeder road from Green Hills to the Hunter Expressway, so "over 21,000 attendees per year" will hardly make any difference to the already large traffic volumes.
There are two commercial pursuits in George Booth Drive, Buchanan, a transport company and a florist. Neither have any special traffic arrangements unlike those required for the proposed mosque.
Lake Macquarie Memorial Park at Ryhope, although in Lake Macquarie Council area, is in a rural area and has busy seven days a week usage with appropriate traffic arrangements in place. Where were the objectors to that?
However, Cessnock City Council had set the precedent by allowing a faith-based Christian school in a rural area at Nulkaba. That school would have a far greater impact on traffic and also a much larger carbon footprint than the proposed mosque. Where were the objectors to that development?
N Davis's objections are just grasping at straws, and as for worrying about similar non-rural developments in Buchanan, it is already being encroached upon by the slow creep of residential housing from Green Hills, due to its proximity to the Hunter Expressway.
It's time to move on and allow these people to build their place of worship. I'm sure any other brand of church wouldn't raise so much as an eyebrow.
S Simmonds, Aberdare
REPRESENT THE PEOPLE
I write about the development proposal for the mosque at Buchanan.
If Cessnock councillors were elected by people from the Cessnock electorate, why they don’t respect wishes of the people who elected them?
I’m not anti-development, but things must not go against wishes of the community to please developers or councillors.
Council must have harmony with people who they represent, not divide them.
Milosh Panacek, Rothbury
MAY 4, 2016
I apologise to my Aussie kangaroo brothers and sisters for not sending in this letter weeks ago.
How many more of you have been mindlessly murdered since you were recently slandered as ‘pests’ on these and similar pages by self-servers?
It will be 30 years yet before many slow-witted two-legged white human animals learn that our fellow animals like kangaroos are 'people' too, according to Science and Ethics: The Kangaroo People.
It will be our national shame to look back at how we allowed our national fellow animals to be brutally and cruelly mistreated and species-cleansed from our landscape.
Les Hutchinson, South Maitland
STILL GOING BATTY
With East Cessnock's bat problem the residents are on their own because no-one cares enough.
It's a massive problem that is too hard.
Singleton has battled on for years to no avail and Burdekin Park is now closed and barricaded off because of the dangers from falling branches and trees, stench, filth and the risk of disease.
The museum is closed, the public toilets are closed and the amphitheatre is closed along with all the picnic tables.
Even Singleton's Anzac proceedings had to be altered because the cenotaph is in the middle of the park.
These bats can carry the Lyssavirus (a disease similar to rabies), Hendra and Menangle virus.
What a disaster if we had an outbreak of these.
Cessnock Council wants to develop a “Flying Fox Camp Management Plan”.
Why waste money? Just ask Singleton as they've done it all.
Joel Fitzgibbon wants a Senate inquiry. Well Joel, if the Senate could meet in the park in Singleton maybe something would be done. But nothing will happen in Canberra, at least, for a very, very long time.
East Cessnock residents need to use their own voices and really start complaining by pestering every agency, local, state and federal representative to really put pressure on.
Tell Council to lower your rates because your property value is plummeting because of the bats.
Bat populations increase because of our expanding and abundant agriculture so either the bats or the preferred trees need to be culled to remove them.
I challenge everyone to travel to Singleton to see the devastation. It's disgusting and will make you sick to the core of bureaucracy. And it will only get worse as it multiplies.
It's easy to find, it's on the New England Highway.
Every day across Australia, from camels to crocodiles, culling takes place.
I feel for you but, just like everyone else that doesn't live next to the bats, you are on your own.
Bill Ingall, Kearsley
Floods cause major disruptions to one and all.
Just think of the floods in 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1955.
Everyone used coal back then. Those five floods caused major havoc in the coal business.
South Maitland Railways felt the brunt because its rail sheds were at East Greta Junction, a low spot.
J&A Brown had their own private line called the Richmond Vale to Minmi-Hexham line.
Because of the importance of coal to our way of living, all trains were diverted to J&A Brown's private line.
The coal got through but the South Maitland rail system had problems.
Testers Hollow, another low spot, is only a few kilometres away.
Back then, the rail authorities took action.
There were no petitions, just positive discussions.
Col Andrews, Kurri Kurri
APRIL 27, 2016
BRIDGE SHOULD BE PRIORITY
In the April 12 edition of the Advertiser there are two articles dealing with Cessnock Council's proposed expenditures over the next few years; "$48 million pool proposal" and "State should chip in for bridge: Barr".
Is Cessnock Council serious? Frame Drive has been closed since April 2015 because council says it cannot afford the cost of rebuilding a small bridge over a creek, despite $2 million having been already provided by the Federal Government, yet they can come up with a plan to spend up to 12 times that amount for a new swimming pool.
The entire Cessnock City area suffers from the most appalling roads that I have experienced in over 40 years of driving and a miserable indictment on past and present councils.
Footpaths and proper drains are lacking in many suburbs and townships and a bridge, which is vital to the ease of access for many local residents has been put on hold for a lengthy period of time, yet they can give serious thought to spending a huge amount for a local council on a nice new swimming complex.
No doubt, the new complex would be a very welcome facility and an asset for a large proportion of ratepayers and could well be considered essential by many residents, but when a council's basic infrastructure is as decrepit as Cessnock City's, many locals might wonder whether this council has its spending priorities right. I for one certainly do not think they have.
Typically, the question of funding for the Frame Drive bridge is being politicised by the local MP and the Shadow Roads Minister, who believe the funding should be provided by the State Government.
Perhaps, instead of trying to score political points against the government, they might be better advised to turn their attention to asking the local council, which has the primary responsibility for local road and bridge maintenance and construction, why they cannot afford to repair an essential item of infrastructure which affects many local residents adversely, yet can consider spending such a vast amount on a pool complex.
Paul Jolly, Weston
NOT AN APPROPRIATE LOCATION
Just because I’m opposed to the mosque development at Buchanan does not make me a racist.
I live in Buchanan (still a rural zone) and do not want any development that will bring over 21,000 attendees per year into my quiet rural neighbourhood.
I worry about the mosque’s impact on the local community, the environment, and anyone who has cause to travel along Buchanan Road. I worry about the precedence for further similar non-rural developments in Buchanan.
Will this development be to blame for all traffic issues on Buchanan Road? No, of course not. However, I object to the additional congestion and safety issues resulting from the proposed intersection to the mosque site. I object to a developer trying to disguise a two-storey tall building façade with landscaping in an attempt to make the facility look ‘rural’. I object to having to look at 224 car parks instead of grazing paddocks. I also object to noise, dust, the proposed wastewater solution and more – but I want to keep this letter short.
Isn’t it also our moral obligation to try and reduce our carbon footprint where we can? Building any new community facility where every attendee has to drive to it in a private vehicle makes no sense.
I am disappointed that the Newcastle Muslim Association has been unable to find a location closer to its congregation base, in an area where the infrastructure, such as public transport and town sewerage, already exists and the operating hours from 4am to 10pm will have no impact on neighbours.
Shouldn’t rural residents be given a fair go to have the right to the quiet life that they moved to the country for?
N Davis, Buchanan
APRIL 20, 2016
BLOWN AWAY BY STOMP FESTIVAL
The inaugural Stomp event staged in our city’s CBD on Sunday created a massive footprint that re-established Cessnock as a festival town.
Not for around four decades has the town experienced such a coming together of the vineyards area and Cessnock’s commercial heart in such a wonderful way.
Those responsible for bringing Stomp to life deserve huge congratulations in what must have been a massive logistical task.
Wineries, restaurants and scores of stalls combined with the local business owners to bring the main street alive in co-operation like never before seen.
Stomp brought visitors from out of town and created a massive funds injection into the town. The degree of cooperation that must have been needed to make it happen will cement relationships for future celebrations and those who witnessed the event just can’t wait for another.
Bruce Wilson (OAM), Cessnock
A CREDIT TO ALL INVOLVED
The first Cessnock Stomp Festival was a credit to all those involved.
What a great day. Vineyard businesses mixing with the townies to create a really terrific festive atmosphere for locals and visitors alike.
The organisers and volunteers deserve all the accolades and praise for the super smooth running of this new event which saw Cessnock grow as an event destination. Bring on next year.
Ryan Wilson, Cessnock
WHAT IS LABOR’S PLAN FOR TELECOMMUNICATIONS?
I was interested to read Joel Fitzgibbon’s column on the shameful fate of the NBN (The Advertiser, March 30).
The NBN is a project to repair some of the harm done by past mistakes.
It isn't a separate issue, but part of the larger problem of Australia's degenerate telecommunications ecology.
In the upcoming election, telecommunications will play a key role in determining my vote.
The anticipated service life of optical fibre is a century or so. Diligent government will plan accordingly.
What is the Labor Party's hundred-year plan for Australia's telecommunications infrastructure?
What is their vision for the network in 10, 20 and 50 years' time?
David Boxall, Mount View