By Evelyn Leckie

The City of Whittlesea has given the 2019-2020 State Budget a big tick, pleased with the honouring of election promises and commitments to additional projects.

City of Whittlesea Mayor Lawrie Cox said the council was pleased to see the State Government allocate $50 million for Growing Suburbs Funds, an important source of funding for the City of Whittlesea.

Cr Cox also welcomed $22.8 million of funding for stage two developments for Edgars Creek Secondary College – delivering upgraded learning spaces for students as well as a brand-new Edgars Creek Primary School set to open in 2021.

Lalor East Primary School is also set to receive an $8.9 million upgrade that will replace older buildings with new architecturally-designed permanent modular buildings.

“We are also pleased to be chosen as the location for one of seven new early parenting centres and to see funding announced to start planning for the Whittlesea Community Hospital,” Cr Cox said.

The new parenting centre is part of a $213.7 million budget investment to provide extra support to new mums and dads.

The Budget allocates $2 million towards planning for the construction, land acquisition and expansion to 10 community hospitals, with four in Melbourne’s north including Whittlesea, Craigieburn, Eltham and Sunbury.

Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green said along with schools and new health services – improved transport and parks for the area would help communities to thrive.

A new bus service will be introduced linking Mernda and Craigieburn Stations via Wollert and an additional bus service will connect Donnybrook residents to Craigieburn Station and shopping centres.

A $19.3 million Plenty River Trail extension will also connect the new Mernda and Hawkestowe train stations for cyclists to the Yarra River Trail.

Quarry Hill Parklands will also be expanded to 1,088 hectares.

Other items in the Budget include a new Scout Hall for Epping North, $3 million for targeted programs to support communities – including Whittlesea for gambling harm prevention, $180,000 to upgrade the cricket nets at Laurimar Cricket Club in Doreen, the already promised Suburban Roads Upgrade including, Epping Road, Childs Road and Bridge Inn Road funding, Plenty Road stage 2 funding, $1.8 million for the O’Herns Road upgrade in Epping.

But Liberal Member for Northern Metropolitan Region Craig Ondarchie pointed out projects that missed out.

“There has been no money for the urgently required duplication of Mickleham and Somerton roads,” Mr Ondarchie said.

Mr Ondarchie highlighted a $25-million cost blow-out of the O’Herns Road upgrade in Epping, a project due to be completed in quarter two of 2019-20 – now pushed back to quarter four of 2020-21.

The Liberal MP also said there would be delays to the upgrade of the M80 ring-road.

“The northern and western sections of the ring-road were meant to have been completed in quarter three of 2020. That has been pushed out to 2022–23,” he said.

The Multicultural community in Melbourne’s north will also miss out, with Mr Ondarchie saying there will be a 24 per cent cut to the multicultural budget.

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