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War of words escalates between Hornery, Newcastle council

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State member Sonia Hornery’s war of words with City of Newcastle (CN) escalated even further this week.

The Wallsend MP, who criticised councillors last month over their plan to privatise the management of five inland pools, fired another shot in the NSW Parliament on Wednesday 28 June.

This time, she moved a Notice of Motion, calling on council to start the crucial duplication of Minmi Road – from one lane to two in each direction – between Wallsend and Minmi.

Ms Hornery admitted she was tired of the delays with the multi-million project, which would alleviate notorious traffic pinch points of the arterial western corridor.

“In November 2021, City of Newcastle Labor candidates were quite happy to pull me into their photoshoot and media announcement for their election promise of $26 million to complete the Minmi Road duplication efforts,” she said.

“Presumably, it was to take advantage of my popularity in the west of the LGA.

“Since winning the election, the Lord Mayor (Nuatali Nelmes) has not been shy about offloading this project to the state government, despite having $33 million – in total – sitting there for it.

“It begs the question if CN is serious about it at all.

“It’s a shame that councillors are so committed to silly vanity projects in the inner city like the failed skate park on the beach or the unpopular ‘black box’ proposal on Newcastle Ocean Baths but won’t begin a project that they have funding for and have near unanimous support from the community to complete.”

The NSW Government added a further $7.6 million to the Minmi Road duplication earlier this year.

“What I don’t understand is the fact that numerous new developments have been approved in the area,” Ms Hornery said.

“The west of the LGA deserves crucial infrastructure projects just as much as the inner city.

“The duplication of Minmi Road is one of the matters most frequently raised with me by residents of Minmi, Maryland and Fletcher.

“With funding ready to go, I’m shocked council has waited this long to start.

“If we are still waiting for commencement of this project in the lead-up to the 2024 Local Government elections, I can assure you I won’t be a part of the photoshoot and announcement.”

But, City of Newcastle rejected Ms Hornery’s claims.

A CN spokesperson said work on the large-scale, multi-stage infrastructure program to significantly reduce traffic congestion along Minmi Road was “well and truly underway”.

“The first stage of the project will reduce congestion along Longworth Avenue at Wallsend by providing two-lane traffic each way,” they explained.

“This section of road connects Minmi Road to Newcastle Road and is considered the highest priority to alleviate congestion along the main arterial road.”

City of Newcastle has completed the design work for the roadworks and recently placed it on public exhibition for feedback from local residents.

That will form detailed designs for the project to be presented to council later this year, with construction planned in 2024.

“It’s surprising the state member for Wallsend is unaware of this work, given it’s part-funded by the NSW Government and is explained in detail on our website,” the spokesperson said.

“Had she bothered to check our website, she would have learnt a community meeting to discuss the design for Longworth Avenue is occurring at Wallsend Library on 12 July.

“She’s, of course, most welcome to attend.”

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