Deputy mayor wants growth rethink
Deputy mayor Camilo Blanco has waded into the recent Royalties for Regions funding debate, claiming the Pilbara Cities vision to grow Hedland into a city of 50,000 people by 2035 needs reviewing.
Speaking at last Wednesday’s council meeting, Crs Blanco and Louise Newbery said the vision needed to be adjusted because its population growth projections seemed unrealistic in the wake of the mining construction slowdown.
Yet, despite calling for a reality check on the Pilbara Cities vision, Cr Blanco last month voiced his support for the State Government’s Royalties funding program.
Started in 2008, the Royalties program aimed to spend around $1 billion annually in regional WA.
Speaking at an April 7 meeting at the Yacht Club last month, Cr Blanco said recent criticism of Royalties-funded projects in South Hedland should be directed at the Town of Port Hedland, not the State Government.
“If the State Government abolishes the Royalties program, we will go back to the days when the regional areas were forgotten,” he said.
“There isn’t enough votes in remote areas to determine a political outcome, so we remain insignificant.”
“The problem is the Town’s ability to manage projects, which is clearly limited because of the lack of expertise in the specific … areas.”
“This was evident in the previous projects that have been delivered.
“That’s not the fault of (the) Royalties … program.”
Cr Blanco’s comments come after Port Hedland Ratepayers Association president Roger Higgins made Statewide headlines last month when he criticised the design of Royalties-funded projects in South Hedland.
Mr Higgins said where government planners had built a separate water park, swimming pool, sports stadium and skate park, they could have instead combined them into one facility to save on ongoing maintenance costs.
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