THE Shire of Mundaring is rejecting claims it favours some suburbs over others after spending $31,000 on a handcrafted stone bus shelter to replace its rusty predecessor in Darlington.
Shire of Mundaring chief executive officer Jonathan Throssell said the recently constructed bus shelter was consistent with the theme of the Darlington village.
“The reason the stone shelter was chosen was because a delegation of Darlington Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (DRRA) members approached the Shire requesting the shelter be of this design to match the stone wall work within the town centre public open space and stone work at the intersection of Hillsden and Darlington roads,” he said.
“The request was investigated and agreed to because the shelter is within the direct Darlington precinct town centre boundaries and consistent with the theme for appearance of public places of complementing materials that assists development of an identifiable character and relaxed people-oriented village atmosphere.”
On the Rates Mundaring Facebook group, Diane Caravelli said she was fed up with Mahogany Creek being a poor relation in the shire’s pecking order.
“I’ve asked for a new bus shelter on the corner of Great Eastern Hwy and Craven Rd on multiple occasions and was told the usage didn’t warrant a replacement,” she said.
“The amount that was spent on the Darlington shelter could have bought two or three standard ones for other areas.”
Kelly Moore said a tin bus stop would have been just as practical.
“Not as pretty, but just as effective,” she said.
“The leftover money could have gone toward much needed footpaths in the areas that sorely need them.”
Rates Mundaring convenor John Bell questioned whether $31,000 for a single bus shelter was a suitable investment.
“When I see the list of both past and projected capital projects together with the ever increasing rates you have to wonder if this was an appropriate investment,” he said.
“It is a sort of, ‘let them eat cake’, approach but is symptomatic of a sense of disconnect with the broader community in the shire.
“I really do not want to be grumpy, because the new shelter is certainly nice but I am uncomfortable with the cost when I see what needs to be built elsewhere.”
Mr Bell said councillors were expected to represent all ratepayers equally but it appeared there had been an imbalance in the allocation of funding to different shire wards.
“I don’t want the debate to be anti-Darlington, they clearly have effective councillors,” he said.
“But logically you would think that those with the fewest public amenities should have the most spent on them but perhaps the opposite is true.
“I think some of the other wards are asleep at the wheel and unfortunately it seems the current system rewards a few at the expense of the many.”
But Mr Throssell rejected claims the shire favoured some suburbs over others.
“Glen Forrest had Morgan John Morgan Reserve upgraded, Mt Helena had Pioneer Park upgraded and Chidlow Village Green was upgraded with shire funds consistent with themes and objectives of precinct plans in those areas,” he said.
“The shire does not proportion funding according to areas but on priorities as set in the Corporate Business Plan, which is developed annually with information from informing strategies such as asset management plans that review asset renewal needs and new asset needs.
“In the current budget there is $1.1million to upgrade Bailup Rd in Wooroloo, which is the most expensive road job this year.
“Whilst the suburb of Wooroloo would not always get the most capital road works funds it would from time to time depending on the asset renewal needs and council priorities.”
Councillor Patricia Cook, who said she was expressing her personal opinion and not that of the council, said the shelter would last a lifetime and be an iconic feature for Darlington.
“The Darlington Precinct Plan, which DRRA were involved in some years ago and the shire adopted, means that there is a higher standard and particular requirements for developments within our historic, village area,” she said.
“The rock for the new shelter was sourced from Beverley to match the local rock and reflects our community which is functional, artistic and collaborative with a great appreciation for beauty of nature.”
By Sarah Brookes