Berwick Leader: Casey Council has erected signs supporting the East West Link, which is 50km away from its chambers in Narre Warren. Peter Strachan. 23 October 2014
Doug Wilkinson gives Casey Council’s East West Link support signs the thumbs down. Picture: Derrick den Hollander
The start of the East West Link is a 50km drive from Casey Council chambers in Magid Drive, Narre Warren.
But that hasn’t stopped the council from showing its undivided support for the controversial $8 billion dollar project, putting up 20 large signs across the municipality touting the road’s benefits.
Three other councils — Yarra, Moreland and Moonee Valley — have launched Supreme Court action against the link, which is expected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But Casey has spent $8000 erecting the signs at high-traffic locations such as Heatherton Rd, Endeavour Hills and South Gippsland Highway, Lyndhurst.
The signs state the link, from Hoddle St, Clifton Hill to CityLink at Parkville, will ease congestion on the Monash Freeway, provide better access to the airport and faster travel to West Melbourne.
A hand made sign in front of Casey Council’s East West Link board. Picture: Derrick den Hollander
When Leader visited the Heatherton Rd sign, someone had erected their own sign in front of it with one word — ‘Disgrace’.
The council’s election advocacy spokesman, Cr Sam Aziz, said the East West Link was expected to deliver a number of benefits to people in Melbourne’s outer southeast “including the 76 per cent of working residents who leave Casey to travel to work, such as providing an alternative route to the Monash Freeway, reduced congestion and faster travel to western Melbourne, including the airport.”
But statistics from the council’s website (using 2011 figures) show just over 600 of Casey’s 120,000-strong workforce were employed in Wyndham, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong and Brimbank – just 0.5 per cent.
Three Casey councillors — Amanda Stapledon, Geoff Ablett and Susan Serey — are standing for the Liberal Party in local seats and irate ratepayers have labelled the signs as “political opportunism” and a “misuse of money” that should have been spent on projects much closer to home.
Endeavour Hills man Doug Wilkinson said claims by Cr Aziz the link road would benefit Casey residents were “beyond ridiculous” .
“Cr Aziz would do better to lobby the government for better roads in Casey, or to have spent the money on removing some of the rubbish dumped on our roadsides,” Mr Wilkinson said.
“Arguing that a road in inner Melbourne will ease congestion for a population largely working locally, in Greater Dandenong or other parts of the southeast, beggars belief.
“It’s beyond ridiculous. It’s unthinkable.”
Cranbourne South’s Wayne Butterworth said the money spent on the signs might just as well have been used to support “a colour change for the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco”.
“It’s outrageous for the council to use money desperately needed right here for infrastructure and services in Casey, to support a state political party of any colour on the eve of an election and on a project that cannot have any clear benefit for the city’s residents,” Mr Butterworth said.
RACV manager for roads and traffic Dave Jones said the East West Link and its related roads would provide Casey residents with greater access to employment, education and recreation opportunities beyond central Melbourne.