TAMWORTH MP Kevin Anderson has blasted John Holland Rail, criticising its management of the Manilla viaduct and saying it needed to “wake up to themselves”.
The viaduct runs through the town’s showground and with the structure fenced-off, Manilla show organisers were concerned “prime trader spaces had been taken-up” and feared it could leave a bad taste in the mouths of travelling vendors.
Mr Anderson, Tamworth mayor Col Murray and Manilla Show Society president Jim Maxwell have been in talks with the group to come to a compromise.
“We worked pretty hard through the minister’s office to get John Holland to wake up to themselves and realise how important this show is,” Mr Anderson said.
He said they’d come to an agreement to create more access at the showground.
“Ultimately, there’ll be some remediation works on Manilla viaduct, in the short term, to allow complete access to Manilla showground,” he said.
“So the Manilla Show society can get on with what they do best and run the show.”
Mr Anderson John Holland’s management of the viaduct wasn’t good enough.
“I don’t think they did a very good job at the community consultation at Manilla last August,” he said.
“We had a town meeting where they were going to do an audit on the Manilla viaduct and then … let the community know whet the results of the audit were.
“That still hasn’t happened.
“Then Tamworth Regional Council get a letter from John Holland saying they’re shutting the thing down and there’s no access to the Manilla Showground.
“That’s, quite simply, not good enough.”
Manilla Show Society president Jim Maxwell said it was a reasonable compromise to allow vehicular access under one portion of the viaduct and pedestrian access around the rest of the structure.
While the show society would rest a bit easier, the future is still somewhat cloudy for the event with the long-term plan for the disused rail viaduct unclear.
An online petition which called on the state government to spare the viaduct from demolition garnered more than 1200 signatures.
John Holland Rail said in a statement it was working to establish access.
“John Holland Rail is working to establish access for pedestrians and vehicles under the viaduct within the Showground,” he said.
“We intend to erect scaffolding on these spans prior to the Show to allow pedestrian and controlled vehicle access.
“The scaffolding work currently underway will mitigate current risks associated with the viaduct’s condition.”