WORTH THE COST: Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor Vic Pennisi voted in favour of the gates, but is concerned about ongoing costs.
WORTH THE COST: Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor Vic Pennisi voted in favour of the gates, but is concerned about ongoing costs.

Show of people power ’saves dozens of jobs’

BORDER communities breathed a sigh of relief this morning when the Southern Downs Regional Council voted to install an electronic gate at the Cullendore Rd border crossing.

The gate, which is expected to cost the council between $6000 and $8000, will allow residents and businesses in the Elbow Valley region to electronically bypass what was previously a hard border closure that blocked all traffic with a large concrete barrier.

The change is expected to save the community dozens of jobs and thousands of dollars, according to Cullendore resident Stuart Bell, who said the decision demonstrated the strength of people power.

“The whole community was struggling and suffering, there’d been 20 or 30 letters sent to the council, and a heap of people ringing the councillors regularly,” Mr Bell said.

“It’s a good example of when the chips are down and the community stands together, on both sides of the border, and advocates for itself.

“It just shows that the people we voted in on the Southern Downs are willing to listen, but we need to make ourselves heard, that’s our job.”

Mr Bell was quick to assure the public that the community still held the coronavirus restrictions in the highest regard, and fundamentally agreed with the measures put in place by the Queensland Government to protect the state from the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re just really enthusiastic about the fact our community can start operating economically and socially again,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Ross Bartley cautioned the community that change wouldn’t happen overnight, as council staff worked to figure out the logistics behind the American operating system.

The funds for the gate will come out of the operational budget, causing concern among some councillors who feared the total cost should other border communities push for their own gates.

Mayor Vic Pennisi said the council has 11 additional hard crossings, and if they were to install a gate on each of them “it would come at a substantial cost to ratepayers”.

“That is why I wrote to the premier for (financial) support, which will be hopefully forthcoming,” he said.

“It’s not just the crossing that’s costing us, there’s a whole heap of other associated costs that keep piling up.”



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