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Friends launch petition

By Mark Beale

A NEW group of people calling themselves the ‘Friends of Airlie Beach’ (FAB) have launched a petition against buses and high rise development on the Airlie Beach main street.

At the forefront of this charge are Whitsunday Ratepayers Association members Andrew Marshall and Lester Riley, who believe people come here from around the world to get away from traffic and concrete.

Both men believe buses should be re-routed around Waterson Way and the newly re-vamped main street turned into more of a pedestrian thoroughfare. Their efforts to spread this message have come to the attention of former Councillor and Airlie Beach business owner Kevin Collins, who also believes the Airlie main street could be more of a ‘pedestrian mall’.

“This is the start of a really nice pedestrian facility and there’s still semi-trailers driving through it – it’s just crazy,” he said.

In November 2014, a meeting was held between Whitsunday Regional Council, the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) and other concerned stakeholders including taxi drivers and members of the WRA.

It was after this meeting that Council announced its new access and management plan, including the return of the taxi rank to the centre of the Airlie main street and the continuation of buses on their current route.

Whitsunday Transit managing director Darren Crossley, said he thought the issue of re-routing buses had been put to bed and he expressed concerns that the new petition was clouded by the additional topic of high rise development.

“A lot of the people that are signing this petition are doing so under the guise of not wanting high rise and to me that nullifies and voids their [bus] position,” he said.

Mr Crossley says he is a firm believer that taking public transport away from the main street would take the public away from where they want to be.

“And everywhere they’ve taken public transport out of the thoroughfare of a destination they’ve put it back because it hasn’t worked,” he said.

Mr Crossley said the push against the buses was by a vocal minority “but it seems the squeaky wheel gets the most oil”.

As for accusations that have been bandied around about “vested interests”, Mr Crossley said he and his company had none “apart from the fact I love this town of Airlie Beach and I want it to succeed”.

The petition can be found at http://www.change.org by searching Airlie Beach.

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