Council Mayoral candidate Tony Judge campaigns for better footpaths

Coffs Harbour Mayoral candidate Tony Judge has called for a greater Council focus on the improvement of footpaths in the region. Photo: Tony Judge.

 

COFFS Harbour Mayoral candidate Tony Judge and the Labor Council Team have called for a greater focus on footpaths in the local government area to improve pedestrian safety and increase mobility for elderly and disabled residents.

“There is a tendency in political campaigns to focus on big, new policies and developments, but often the greatest benefits in local government come from fixing the smaller problems that are an everyday concern for residents and ratepayers,” Mr Judge said.

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“Footpaths are one of those areas where good planning and consistent investment would improve the safety and quality of life of so many people in our Council area.

“All of us rely on footpaths to some extent for convenience and safety, but they are an even greater priority for people who are unsteady on their feet or in need of access for a mobility scooter.”

Mr Judge said in their case a well-maintained footpath can be the difference between being able to safely access their neighbourhood and being restricted to their home.

“However, their attempts to remain mobile and active are often restricted by the absence of footpaths, poor maintenance or the lack of a safe way to cross a kerb at an intersection,” he said.

“Projections show that the number of people in our area who are over 75 years of age will double in the next 20 years.

“Many of those people will have mobility problems and we should be planning the right sort of infrastructure for them in advance to allow them to have the best possible quality of life.”

Mr Judge also notes that the lack of footpaths in some parts of the Council area is a serious road safety issue.

“Provision of footpaths has not kept up with the growth in population and increased development in some areas like the Northern Beaches,” he said.

“This often results in pedestrians sharing narrow roads with increasingly busy traffic flows.

“The safety issues arising from that shared use are growing in frequency and severity.”

As a keen cyclist, Mr Judge pointed out in particular the dangerous intersection of Pollack Esplanade and Carrington Street in his home town of Woolgoolga, where he now has to stop to check for traffic when riding around that corner.

“I’m concerned about the safety of that corner,” Mr Judge said.

Mr Judge said the area’s lack of footpaths also results in more and more people choosing to drive a short distance to their destination, creating congestion on roads and the need for more parking.

“At a time when we should be encouraging more walking for the health and environmental benefits, many people are being unnecessarily forced to use a car for short journeys,” he added.

According to Mr Judge, the answer to the problem lies in planning, building and maintaining good quality footpaths across the Council area.

“At a time when we are both growing in population and ageing, good footpaths are not just desirable, they are essential,” he said.

“If we are elected to Council, this will be a big area of focus for us.”

 

By Emma DARBIN

 

Mayoral candidate Tony Judge has singled out the corner of Pollack Esplanade and Carrington Street at Woolgoolga as a dangerous corner due to its lack of a shared pedestrian footpath. Photo: Emma Darbin.

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