Ugly power poles and wires in Maitland’s High Street have come under attack from a long-serving councillor who wants them felled and sunk underground.
Councillor Ray Fairweather will urge council tomorrow to consider consigning the power lines to history. The lines between Ken Tubman Drive and the rail overpass are the last remnants of an antiquated transmission system banished in the mall and up to the Long Bridge.
“It might have been all right in the horse and buggy days but not any more,” Cr Fairweather said. “It’s time to get out of the horse and buggy and into the digital era.”
In his notes to council Cr Fairweather points to a program of replacement that started 20 years ago but was never completed.
With the development of a civic precinct, including Maitland Regional Art Gallery and in the future new council offices, Cr Fairweather will advocate “serious consideration” to the removal of the “ugly poles and wires from the High Street landscape”.
“We’ve spent between $7m and $8m on the art gallery and we have these ugly poles here spoiling the look of it,” he said. “The power lines are a great eyesore, no doubt about it.”
The cost to ratepayers could, however, be a stumbling block to the motion. In a Mercury street poll, on page 10 today, not one of the five participants thought removing the power poles and placing the wires underground was a wise use of ratepayers’ money.
“I would expect that Maitland city Council would foot the bill,” Cr Fairweather said. “I don’t think it’s unfair to ask ratepayers.
“It’s not unlike any other infrastructure in the city.”
The motion Cr Fairweather is to move tomorrow night is for council to make inquiries with Ausgrid regarding the cost of the exercise .
“They would have to get firm costings but I would like to see it all happen as soon as possible,” he said.
“If considered appropriate this could be considered as part of the Central Maitland Infrastructure Plan.”
Having ruled out running for re-election, it will be one of the final motions Cr Fairweather puts to council.
“I’ve got four or five meetings left yet and I’ll have a few more motions before then,” he said.