Vets fume over Anzac fee
By JANE GARDNER
WOODBURN'S Anzac Day march may be cancelled this year after its RSL sub-branch was asked to pay Richmond Valley Council $10,000 to divert traffic off the Pacific Highway march route for an hour.
Woodburn-Evans Head RSL sub-branch president Darryl Pobje said it was the first time council had asked for payment in the club's history.
"This is the most significant day of the year and council should be paying us to march," he said.
"We won't be marching now, full stop.
"We're absolutely disgusted.
"Why should we look at alternative routes when we've been doing this since World War One?"
Richmond Valley mayor Charlie Cox said council had approached the RTA, which offered to shut down traffic on the Pacific Highway for 10 minutes.
However, he said an assesment into the impacts of diverting heavy traffic through the back streets estimated it would cost council $10,000 in wear and tear, signage and paying traffic controllers ? a fee the RSL would have to pay.
"There are big issues," Cr Cox said.
"Damage to those roads will shorten the life of the roads and it will cost an estimated $10,000. Council cannot afford to spend ratepayers' money on that.
"We are respectful of the Anzac Day march and the best option for them will be to go along with the RTA and agree to a 10-minute stoppage of traffic.
"We have also said to the sub-branch that we will work on looking at a possible alternative site for the war memorial."
The march route traditionally begins at the post office and finishes 300 metres away at Riverbank Park for a service at the war memorial.
Mr Pobje said 40 members of the RSL marched last year with an Air Force contingent of 30.
It is likely those people would not march this year, he said.
"We are only a small sub-branch of 170 people. Even if the council asked for $1000, we'd be scratching around for that," Mr Pobje said.
"We have sent a news article about the matter to Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal to ask him what his problem is."