More than 17,496 sign roads petition

More than 17,496 people have now signed petitions for the Campaign for Better and Safter Roads and Bridges.

Of this the single largest contribution of petition signatures has come from the people of the Wingham community with 4,469.

Campaign organiser, Cr Peter Epov expects that by the deadline of 5pm Friday this number will swell to over 18,000 once the late returns arrive.

"This figure will represent more than half of the eligible voting population of the entire Greater Taree City Council local government area and a very clear and distinct mandate for action. The people of the Manning Valley have spoken and they have sent in the strongest possible terms a very convincing message to both the state and federal governments that they expect immediate action on this roads and bridges funding crisis," said Cr Epov.

The Petition calls on the Australian Government to:

 Immediately restore the $11.4 million roads and bridges funding package to GTCC.

 Allocate additional funding to GTCC for its Roads and Bridges Replacement Program.

 Urgently establish and fund structures for providing direct funding to rural LGAs for roads and bridges.

"We have put out the challenge to the people to take part in this important democratic process and they have responded in overwhelming numbers throughout the entire Manning Valley. This is the ‘peoples petition,'" Cr Epov said.

"I have today sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Australia, Right Honourable Tony Abbot seeking a meeting, to discuss the serious concerns of the people of the Manning Valley. I have only asked for 21 minutes, to express the concerns of the Manning Valley as listed in our Petition. These 21 minutes represents the 21 days that we dedicated to securing the 18,000 odd petition signatures.

"Mr Abbott has promised to be the prime minister for all Australians, surely he will be able find 21 minutes in his schedule to hear the entreaty of the people of the Manning.

"In this letter, I have advised the PM that given the urgency of the situation, we are prepared to travel anywhere to meet him or if he has the time, we would welcome him here to the Manning Valley to see our dire circumstances first hand.

"I shall also be writing to the premier of NSW Mr Barry O’Farrell on this subject and to many other political leaders throughout the nation. This issue does not stop at 18,000 signatures.

"At this time I would like to take this opportunity to record our appreciation to all our petition hosts, all 200 that assisted with the collection of signatures. In addition, I must recognise the efforts of all the volunteers, who come from all sections of our community and helped with this campaign they have been unyielding.

"My wife, Helen, has worked tirelessly throughout the campaign co-ordinating activities; producing petition kits and collecting signatures, she has personally collected over 1300 signatures, I could not have undertaken this challenge without her unequivocal support.

"Finally, I would like to acknowledge the support that I have received from my councillor colleagues, particularly deputy mayor Robyn Jenkins, who very enthusiastically agreed to co-fund the advertising cost of the campaign with me, and in going out into the community, distributing kits and collecting signatures. Within a few days of the announcement of this campaign, councillor Brad Christensen jumped on board and has eagerly embraced the task of working with the community and collecting signatures."