NSW Labor will provide half a million dollars to upgrade the Guyra main street if it wins the election, the party's Northern Tablelands candidate Debra O'Brien announced on Wednesday afternoon.
“Guyra is such a beautiful town,” Ms O’Brien said, “and the exciting plans for its rejuvenation should not be stymied because of a mere hitch in the program for the upgrading of Bradley Street.”
A $2.765 million plan to improve Bradley Street hit a snag in July when up to 19 disused fuel tanks were found under the road and footpath.
Work started last week on removing the tanks, and should finish next month. Armidale Regional Council plans to start upgrading the street soon afterwards, focusing on making pavements wheelchair accessible, and moving overhead electrical wiring underground.
The removal costs had to be taken out of the budget for the main street, so some of the original ideas for upgrading Bradley Street have to be omitted.
“I know how disappointing it was for local residents and businesses in the main street when the revitalisation works had to be put on hold until the remedial works have been carried out," Ms O'Brien said.
"The state government did not offer support for the remediation work, so it had to come from the original budget for the revitalisation of Guyra."
The then-council administrator had, however, put aside money received from Coalition at the time of merger to upgrade the main street.
Ms O'Brien believes that the street upgrades would be "a real shot in the arm" for Guyra, and that the works are long overdue, offering a new streetscape with street furniture, community art works, mosaics and murals, gardens and tree-plantings.
Peter Primrose, NSW Labor's shadow minister for local government, promised Ms O'Brien that the funds would be forthcoming. He recognised that such a historic town as Guyra should not be allowed to decay because of such a small sum, she said.
Labor is committed to making the grant even if Ms O'Brien does not secure the seat, she said.
The Labor announcement could give the town another chance - and maybe even allow Council to return to the original plans.
"If Labor gets in," mayor Simon Murray said, "the $500,000 will provide a lot of benefits to the Guyra community, but also the Armidale Regional Council.
"This will allow all those things we're thinking about having to give up to go back into the plan."
Cr Murray made it clear he was not endorsing Ms O'Brien as a candidate.