It has been a long time coming but at last the contract has been awarded for the works to upgrade the New England and Golden highways at Belford and Whittingham.
The building of dual lanes between Belford and highways' intersection, the flyover at the intersection and a new bridge over Mudies Creek on the Mitchell Line Road are all vital infrastructure projects to make the roads safer and more efficient.
The intersection of the two highways has posed serious safety issues for many years with crashes including fatalities meaning the flyover is long overdue. Plus it will eliminate the wait times at the intersection. It was first mooted by then NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay at the 2015 state election. Six years later work is expected to start later this year.
It was the NSW Budget this week and after some lean or 'drought' times when it comes to funding for local projects Singleton's name was mentioned a few times in the budget papers. This is indeed good news.
We have received the funding, first announced during the recent Upper Hunter by-election, for a new police station. There is also monies for progressing both the Singleton and Muswellbrook bypasses.
On the water front monies are also being allocated to research the feasibility of a pipeline linking Lostock and Glennies Creek dams. The attraction of this project is the fact Lostock's water levels, even during the height of the 2017-2019 drought, remained significantly higher than any other dam in the state.
Providing water security for the users below Glennies Creek Dam including our own town water supplies and water for irrigators such as the Pokolbin Irrigation District would be one of the advantages of building the pipeline.
Figures for mining royalties show they remain a significant contributor to the state coffers with $1.6 billion coming in 2021-22, up from $1.4 billion this year.
But there were critics of the budget including charities like St Vincent de Paul who say NSW unlike Victoria and Queensland have not used the opportunity to invest now in social housing.
With rents skyrocketing especially in regional and rural areas now is the time for governments to address the lack of social housing. It is a job creator as well as an essential support for our vulnerable members of the community.