Town centre upgrade plan a recipe for chaos
I am infuriated by the implication in Chris Patterson's letter of last week that the Camden Community Alliance (CCA) is a stooge of the Labor Party ("Community Alliance was 'hijacked' by Labor", Camden-Narellan Advertiser).
I am a member of the CCA. We are a group of concerned citizens of Camden, and our concerns are, in no respect, party political.
My concerns spring from the dawning realisation that the "plan" for the Camden town centre upgrade the council has put together is a recipe for short- and long-term pedestrian and traffic chaos, and the permanent degradation of the treasured character of our town.
It is an unconscionably underhanded tactic on MP Chris Patterson's part to attempt to sideline the CCA as a lackey of the Labor Party.
Council has already put the first stage of this ill-conceived plan out to tender, with work due to commence mid-year.
The CCA request for a moratorium is a matter of extreme urgency.
Sue Way, Elderslie
'Hijack' claim expected
I had a good chuckle when I read our local MP Chris Patterson's letter to the editor last week claiming the Camden Community Alliance was "hijacked" by the Labor Party.
If we did "hijack" it (which we didn't) then we didn't do a very good job. Chris won every booth in the electorate and only suffered a 4 per cent swing.
I was asked to attend the Community Alliance meeting by several people, but declined.
Presciently I told them quite clearly that if I attended then their group risked being branded a Labor plot. I didn't go and they still got labelled.
One fellow I spoke to as we waited for our coffee today (Wednesday, April 1) asked had I read Chris's letter, as he was quite insulted.
He'd never voted Labor in his life, and still hasn't, but he doesn't like the council plans, and he now intends to join the Community Alliance. He said to me that he thinks Chris is trying to deflect criticism from the council.
I just quoted him back a bit of Chris' letter, "if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck ..."
Geoff Corrigan, Camden ALP president
Former mayor and Camden MP
Not a Labor stooge
If you voted for Chris Patterson on March 28, do you feel betrayed by his disparaging letter to the editor following his election?
I am a member of the Alliance, and voted for Chris - as did many of the non-political Alliance members.
As far as being a stooge for the Labor Party, Chris should recall that one of the most famous stooges was Jack Mundey who, in the 1970s, rejected the Liberal-endorsed developers' move to flatten The Rocks with high-rise apartments.
In the wake of Jack Mundey's activities, the state government enacted heritage protection legislation that led, amongst other things, to the establishment of the Historic Houses Trust.
Perhaps the mayor and her Liberal political mentor are too young to recall these events and apply the lesson learned to the current situation.
I had to laugh at Chris's ambiguous comment that the Alliance is waiting on the council's (mayor's) response in which he said "don't hold your breath".
Numerous requests to the mayor for information have disappeared into a black hole in council — holding your breath appears to be par for the course if questioning the mayor on the CBD redevelopment.
Strange, however, that when Chris or the mayor specifies a meeting date, and you don't respond immediately and favourably — you must have joined the Labor Party. Gutter tactics are called upon when your case fails in logic.
Peter Davies, Elderslie
Liberals 'neither mocked nor ridiculed'
Chris Patterson in his letter last week rightly supports the Camden Community Alliance in its endeavour to preserve the heritage and lifestyle of Camden ("Community Alliance was 'hijacked' by Labor", Camden-Narellan Advertiser).
However, he makes some statements in his letter which deserve comment and correction:
1. The public meeting was organised at the earliest time available.
2. The offer to use a corner of the Labor candidate's stand was made when the Alliance was unable to secure any other place. I personally visited the Liberal Party booth on four separate occasions on that Saturday afternoon to request similar support.
3. No executive member of the Alliance was acting on behalf of the Alliance at any pre-poll.
4. The Labor candidate, Cindy Cagney, is a member of the Alliance and purchased her T-shirt at the street stall.
5. As to the comment "the Liberal mayor and councillors were mocked and ridiculed", I refute this in the strongest possible terms.
Mr Patterson's comment that the Alliance was hijacked as a Labor tool insults those from every political persuasion who attended the meeting on March 25.
His offer to meet was discussed by the executive of the Alliance and we determined, rightly, to approach council for a response before engaging the local member.
They are the ones who need to respond to the now-thousands of residents opposed to the council plan.
Chris, now is the time to show where your support lies.
Is it with the Liberal mayor and the Liberal council or the non-politically aligned Camden Community Alliance?
If 587 represents "overwhelming support" what do the now well over 1500 petitioners, all of whom oppose the plan, represent? Hope we won't have to hold our breath.
Pieter Versluis, Kirkham, Camden Community Alliance
I am not going to argue about all the untrue statements made in last week's letter from the MP.
I am somewhat above that sort of rubbish in my commitment to the Camden that I love.
The only Labor person wearing a shirt during the past two weeks was me, and I have no apologies for sticking up for my community and supporting the residents of Camden in preserving our town.
It struck me as perplexing to read the rant from such "a sore winner" and I wondered why?
Maybe he feels that he had backed himself into a corner at the Camden Alliance community meeting by allowing people to believe that the Alliance had his support, and now he needs to do whatever it takes to malign all and sundry to ensure he can retreat to a place of doing nothing and supporting the Liberal council's abysmal plans for the Camden CBD.
The real measure of the author will be in what he does or does not do to preserve our beautiful town — actions really do speak louder than words.
Cindy Cagney, former ALP candidate
Wants a deferral
I have been a ratepayer to Camden Council for 25 years and I feel entitled to request the council defer its controversial plans altering Camden CBD.
I suppose we are guilty of not taking our council more seriously earlier by ignoring their tick-a-box proposals, knowing it would not work and there was no alternative.
Seriously, is Camden Council going to use public funds to provide a decked car park for Woolworths?
Larkin Place is the only obvious parking area being central to Argyle Street through Capitol Arcade, or to John Street via the library area, or to Elizabeth Street.
Camden is a heritage town. It seems that the council has conflicting ideas.
Norman Carson, Elderslie
Council must engage
When will the mayor stop wasting ratepayers' money on full-page counterproductive ads in the local papers and start engaging with the Camden people?
The council states that traffic lights are needed at pedestrian crossings mainly for "safety".
If they are required for safety why then are we not getting zebra crossings (possibly traffic lights) at John and Elizabeth street intersections?
After all, the publicly available accident reports on pedestrian incidents show there were more accidents on these streets combined than Argyle Street.
I was involved, as an interested ratepayer, in the three so-called "community consultation meetings" last year.
What the council "suggested" that Argyle Street needed is what is now proposed to be built.
The attendees put forward proposals and suggestions for the whole of the CBD.
None of these were taken up or reviewed by the council with the attendees.
The results released by the council in the "Camden City submissions" was a whitewash.
To get a Camden CBD that will be prosperous and attractive into the future the council must have a far better engagement with the community prior to commencing the currently planned works.
Ray Garnsey, Elderslie (no political affiliation)
Camden Council offers a rare combination: they are blind to their environment and deaf to the rising tide of opposition regarding the proposed changes in Oxley and Argyle streets.
The council lamely protests that its "survey" was adequate to garner public opinion.
This is questionable.
What is now beyond debate is the groundswell of concerned citizens who demand a moratorium on these changes so that a proper plan can be devised for Camden's future.
It is a pity that the councillors, ensconced in their new premises, will be unable to share in the chaos and gridlock that this proposal, if implemented, will produce.
David Nethercote, Camden