The demolition of two pedestrian bridges at Bangor is going ahead despite calls by residents for a postponement and the council admitting at least one of the crossings is structurally sound.
About 30 parents took part in a protest meeting next to the bridge at Bangor Public School on Friday, with a number of others also opposed but unwilling to be photographed.
P&C president Laura Langkjar said, before the meeting, she emailed Sutherland Shire Council and the three E Ward councilors, asking to postpone the removal until after a meeting to air community concerns.
“There was a general consensus among those who attended the meeting that the council had acted in a sneaky way, with the timing of the announcement a week before the school holidays and lack of community consultation and notice to residents,” she said.
Ms Langkjar said, on Friday night, she received an emailed reply from the council’s team leader engagement / strategy and engagement.
”The response basically shut down the idea of any further communication and redirected me to the information on their website about the bridge removal,” Ms Langkjar said.
”She acknowledged the council regretted not having provided advance notice.”
Ms Langkjar said the email referred to the bridges having “sentimental value” for the community.
”It is most presumptuous of the council to think that people only want the bridges to remain for sentimental value,” she said.
“Above all, the community is upset because of the safety of our community, mostly the school aged children.”
Ms Langkjar’s email to the council also included suggestions from the community on new safety measures if the bridges were removed.
The council had proposed some changes but “nothing that really provides safety”, she said.
Ms Langkjar said Cr Steve Simpson was the only E ward councillor to reply, and was “most helpful”.
“He said that the bridges are coming down, but he would be willing to come to the P & C meeting to discuss what safety measures could be put in to place,” she said.
The email from the council said, “Whilst the bridge [at the school] remains structurally sound today, council has chosen to take a prudent course of action to remove the bridge, and ensure the safety of our community is paramount in all decisions”.
”In the last five years, there has been one vehicle crash (a rear end on Dandarbong Avenue) recorded at Dandarbong Ave / Menai Road,” the email said.
“There have been no crashes involving pedestrians at the Bandarbong Avenue / Menai Road intersection since 2005 and the relatively small increase in pedestrian numbers resulting from the removal of the bridge is unlikely to affect safety at the intersection.
“There have been no reported vehicle crashes involving pedestrians at the Menai Road / Yala Road intersection.
“We do also understand that the bridges hold some sentimental value to members of our community, having been in place for decades, however we want to assure you that the safety of our community has been the most important consideration for this, and all council decisions.
“On behalf of Council, we do regret not having provided advanced notice of the intentions to remove the bridge and I appreciate you reaching out today and providing us with an opportunity to address your concerns.”