On Tuesday 28 August the Sydney Alliance Nepean Valley District took action to change it.
Sixty-five leaders from 15 local organisations gathered to hear from nine leading Penrith City Council candidates- Bernard Bratusa, Prue Car, Greg Davies, Sue Day, Ross Fowler, Tricia Hitchen, Peter Holmes, Jackie Greenow and David Lenton.
“Queen Street, once a thriving city centre; is now a decaying street with closed businesses struggling to provide services needed for its growing population,” said Alliance member Chris Brenton from St Clair Catholic Parish’s Social Justice Group.
Ms Brenton told how she had witnessed the decay of Queen Street over the years and its direct impact on the region.
Jacob Moriarty from St Clair Catholic Parish told how he had been assaulted ‘just out of reach of the train station lights and CCTV cameras’.
Safety near St Marys Train Station is a deeply felt issue in the area.
After hearing these testimonies, Council candidates were given three minutes to speak about their platform and then each was then asked to commit to actioning a safety upgrade of the station plaza car park at St Marys Train Station at their first meeting. They were also asked to meet with the Sydney Alliance Nepean Valley District twice a year over their four year terms as councillors. All agreed.
Labor mayoral candidate Cr. Greg Davies added to this commitment saying that he would personally undertake a safety audit of St Marys Train Station with Police and representatives from the Sydney Alliance and that he would action it the following day.
Alliance District Co-chair Sister Louise Mckeogh hastily convened a meeting of local Alliance leaders who agreed to take up Mr. Davies up on his offer.
‘Liberal minded’ independent candidate Tricia Hitchen agreed that a total transformation of Queen Street and its surroundings needed to be made in order to boost the safety and prosperity of the whole region. Labor candidate Prue Car praised the Alliance for its initiative and expressed her gratitude for their commitment to making a difference.
Following these commitments, Adrian Catt from the Rail, Tram and Bus Union reminded the gathering that although Council candidates had given commitments the safety upgrade (extra lights and footpath issues resolved) was yet to be locked in. Leaders from the partner organisations agreed to attend the first local council meeting in October ‘to be sure’ those commitments would be followed up.
At the Sydney Alliance debrief, Diana Pasley an attendee at St Nicholas of Myrna Catholic Parish told fellow Sydney Alliance leaders how the candidates changed their perspective towards the gathering.
‘Before, they were neither here nor there. Afterward, they were really listening,’ she said.
Lisa Foster from Western Sydney Community Forum said she was ‘delighted that the Sydney Alliance has become very local, here in St Marys’.
Coalition Director, Dr. Amanda Tattersall said that the strategy for reorganising power in Sydney was about local action. Our aim is to ‘Change the suburbs, change the city’.
The Sydney Alliance is a non-party political organisations building grassroots power that respects the contribution and dignity of all people.
Organisations that took part in the Nepean Valley District were UnitingCare NSW, Cancer Council NSW, Catholic Diocese of Parramatta (Parishes of St Clair, St Marys, Luddenham-Warragamba, Glenmore Park, Penrith and Sudanese Catholic Community), Rail, Tram and Bus Union, Climate Action Network Australia, Western Sydney Forum, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Parramatta-Nepean Presbytery of the Uniting Church (St Clair, St Marys & Penrith Congregations and Aboriginal Congress).