Saturday, May 08, 2010

Veteran 'general' plots bridge campaign

Map from wikipedia.

THE campaign has been long and hard but Joyce Webb, the general of the Russell Island Bridge Lobby, shows no weariness as she marshals her troops to keep up the battle. Joyce, just weeks from her 87th birthday and suffering from health problems, shows no sign of giving up her dream of a bridge from the mainland to the southern bay island. She is "positive and hopeful" that the breakthrough is near and she has joined the Liberal National Party to speed things up a bit.

JOYCE's critics undoubtedly will seize on this apparent change of heart as she is a former Labor Party member and in fact served in some of the party's local positions. But that was more than a decade ago. Nowadays Joyce looks back on that 12-year stint as a mistake. "I never should have been in the Labor Party because I am all for progress and development with planning," she says. Joyce's bridge dream started in 1984 after she and her husband, Ron, then newly retired after three decades with the South East Queensland Electricity Board, built their Russell Island home and moved from the Gold Coast.

THE couple quickly became known as leaders of the bridge lobby. Joyce's resolve on the issue seems to have strengthened since Ron's death in 2002 at age 83. She says her three heart attacks and an operation to install a pacemaker prompted her move to Thorneside in 2007. "I've got a button here I can press to get help quickly if anything happens," she says. "If I was on the island, without a bridge, there wouldn't be enough time (for medical help). I can't live there anymore without a bridge."

JOYCE has other health problems but she will not let anything get in the way of her preparations for the annual general meeting of "RIBL Inc" in which she is honorary secretary, treasurer and chief fundraiser. Her Public Notice for the May 8 meeting seems to indicate the stormy history of the Russell bridge campaign. "Bridge supporters only welcome to attend," it says. Joyce hopes for a good turn-out for the 1pm meeting at Redland Bay Community Hall. She says the RIBL membership list represents 484 families and 1476 individuals throughout Australia and New Zealand."I write to them every time we are having a meeting," she says.

THE AGM will hear that Joyce is now "very hopeful" of the breakthrough. She says RIBL has been talking with three construction companies that have expressed interest in taking a proposal to the State Government. Joyce admits she is worried about the influence of the Greens in the political landscape. "They want to knock everything on the head," she says.

Thanks for joining me to meet the people of the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times.

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