April 5th 2005
Horseshoe TV Blackspots fix in jeopardy.
The Magnetic Island Community is appealing to Townsville City Council for assistance of $18,600.00 to rescue the Horseshoe Bay TV Blackspots programme from oblivion. According to MI Community Development Association President, Lorna Hempstead, "The $150,000 project would have been fully funded by the federal government had the project not hit last minute snags."
Lorna Hempstead explained that the project commenced in 2000, when the need for the grant was proved to, and accepted by the Federal Government.
Since the original approval there had been almost four years of government red tape to be overcome. The last hurdle has resulted in the need to change the agreed equipment housing arrangement at the Forts, and with the cost escalation of building, the scheme is now over budget,
"The absolute time line for completion is 30th June. If we don't complete by then we do not receive the second part of the grant and the community would be $75,000 in debt, so that's not an option," said Lorna. "The actual transmission equipment has to be ordered from Italy and no stocks are held in Australia and if not ordered this week we don't meet the timeline."
"The Federal Government has effectively closed the scheme down - we are one of the tail-enders, so there is no way there can now be further federal assistance.
"In a last ditch attempt to save the project I have asked our Councillor, Jenny Hill to move a special motion on the floor of the Council Chamber at Tuesday's Council meeting.
"Townsville City Council staff have been fantastic right the way through this project, it would be as much of a let-down to them as the community, I'm sure, if this project had to be aborted at the 11th hour.
"TV reception right now is quite appalling in Horseshoe Bay - some homes can receive poor pictures from Cairns, most get nothing, and with close to a couple of hundred new home sites coming on stream in the next few years the need for TV coverage will expand greatly from the current population base. The need is also there now for our overnight visitors too. Tourists would expect to find TV in their holiday units, and to be able to stay in touch with their favourite serial, or with sport.
As well as the dollar value of the funding, the Magnetic Island community has committed in excess of 800 hours to this project, and a considerable amount of its own money. "I do hope that Councillors will see their way to support this project, not only to save it, but also to show that they will support communities who get up and do for themselves," said Lorna.
On a positive note the installation for Nelly Bay is scheduled to commence (weather permitting) on the 21st April.