Drivers flex muscle with servo snub

A CHEAP fuel “happy hour” and a convoy of cranky motorists are just two ideas being floated by a new group trying to force down Tamworth fuel prices.

More than 600 locals have signed up to the “Boycott so we can all benefit” Facebook page in less than a week.

The group is calling on drivers to boycott Shell service stations for a fortnight in favour of price-leading independents.

Another major fuel chain will be nominated for boycott after January 7.

The “people power” movement comes as residents fight back against historically high fuel prices, which have sat almost 30 cents higher per litre than Sydney in recent months.

South Tamworth mum Alicia King, who founded the boycott page, said it was time drivers showed oil companies who had the power.

“We now want to take it to the next step by going to an independent and seeing if they’re willing to put on a cheap petrol happy hour,” Ms King said.

“We’re also considering a convoy on a Sunday afternoon out to Manilla just as a show of strength and so we can all meet each other.”

One independent consistently selling fuel cheaper than the majors is Paul Summers, the owner of Summers IGA in Kootingal.

The supermarket’s service station will today drop its unleaded price to 134.9 cents a litre, less four cents with a shopper docket.

“We obviously don’t buy as well as the big boys but there’s no doubt they’re operating on much higher margins,” Mr Summers said.

“We try and maintain a modest margin and that’s why we keep dropping our prices (when crude oil prices drop).

“We’re not about ripping our customers off but the big boys are more answerable to their shareholders than their customers.”

He said his per litre wholesale price had dropped 15 cents in recent weeks as world crude oil prices plummet to their lowest level in five years.

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Raise a glass to new year and old friends

TAMWORTH residents will strap on their party hats and dancing shoes tonight to welcome in 2015.

THOSE GHOULS: Carolyne Morris from local country trio Those Gals will again headline a massive New Year’s Eve event at Tamworth Services Club tonight. The popular band will front a spook-inspired party at the club. Photo: Gareth Gardner 301214GGD01

A host of venues across the city will stage special events to see in the new year, while the region’s dams are expected to welcome an influx of revellers.

Thousands more will enjoy private parties at homes across the city.

Among the feast of official events is the inaugural 2014 New Year’s Eve Ball to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House.

Held at West Tamworth Leagues, the ball will feature popular Sydney group The Shuffle Band and a gala auction.

Ronald McDonald will even make an appearance on the red carpet, dressed in a tuxedo.

The inimitable country trio Those Gals will again help see in new year at the Tamworth Services Club for a Ghostly Haunted House Party.

Among the local hotels, The Goodies, Impy, Courthouse and Oasis are all putting on live music for the big night.

Oxley LAC commander Clint Pheeney said police would be out in force tonight to ensure the party doesn’t end in tragedy.

“Our main message is that people should enjoy themselves but enjoy themselves responsibly,” Superintendent Pheeney said.

“We will have a bigger presence, not just around licenced premises but also on the roads.

“If you’re going to drink, make sure you have a Plan B.”


Last-minute NYE party guide

* Wests Leagues: Inaugural 2014 New Year’s Eve Ball (Blazes, $99 a ticket); Heartland playing at main club (free)

* Tamworth Services Club: A Ghostly Haunted House Party (free entry, featuring Those Gals from 8pm)

* The Goodies: Live music in main bar from 10.30pm, DJ upstairs from 10pm

* The Impy: Fancy dress party and DJs from 10pm (free entry to those in fancy dress)

* The Oasis: Graeme Doubleday and band from 7.30pm

* The Courthouse: Mike Vee playing from 8pm in main bar

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Police call for NYE revellers to show restraint

NEW YEAR’S EVE: Police have warned that antisocial and drunken behaviour won’t be tolerated.About 60 officers from Central Hunter local area command will be on duty across Maitland and Cessnock tonight to help revellers enjoy their New Year’s Eve celebrations safely.

Police encouraged partygoers to enjoy themselves, but also warned that antisocial behaviour would not be ­tolerated.

In Maitland, festivities will ­culminate at 9pm with a fireworksdisplay on the Hunter River.

Visitors to the river front will be ­permitted to take small amounts of alcohol into the precinct and the ­alcohol-free zone will be reinstated and enforced from 9.30pm.

A council spokeswoman said there was no defined acceptable amount of alcohol, but encouraged people to drink responsibly in what had been set up as a family environment.

Outside the precinct, the ­alcohol-free zone will remain in force.

Duty officer Inspector Brian Tracey, who co-­ordinated the command’s New Year’s Eve operations, said police wanted visitors to the area to behave responsibly.

“As always, police will be there to ensure the safety of all patrons so they can enjoy the festivities,” he said.

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“We want people to drink in moderation, to know their limits and have a great time with their family and friends, rather than drinking to excess and ending up in a bad way.

“We will be out in force only to ensure everyone has a great time on New Year’s Eve and enjoys the fireworks.”

Inspector Tracey said police would work with security officers and council personnel as well as SES boats patrolling the river and an increased number of paramedics.

“Any people within the area of the Hunter River should feel free to come and speak to police if they have any concerns,” he said.

The celebrations will start at 5.30pm with family-friendly activities including face painting, balloon sculpting, a giant slide, tea cups, a bungee trampoline, rock climbing wall and extreme bounce jumping castle.

A children’s disco will kick off at 6pm.

St Andrews Street between High Street and the riverbank, Riverside Car Park and Stillsbury Lane will be closed until 9am Thursday.

The eastbound lane of High Street from Belmore Road to just west of Church Street and the westbound lane of High Street west of Church Street to Little Hunter Street will be closed until midnight.

The car park underneath Kmart in the Hunter Mall will close at 7pm tonight.

Maitland City Council encouraged drivers to park in the car park on Ken Tubman Drive.

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Please bring back our bird bath

Dry day: Birds around Gymea loved using the bird bath before it disappeared. Picture: SuppliedSome mean-spirited people stole the pictured bird bath fromamemorial garden in the front garden of our unit complex at Gymeaon Saturday nightDecember 27.

This beautiful, blue, bird bath had much sentimental value to the couple who placed it there two years ago as a memory to a loved one who died suddenly and tragically.

It brought comfort to them and joy to others in the complex, including children,who frequently watched the large numbers of birds who regularly came to drink from it.

The magpies, lorikeets, butcher birds and cockatoos are lost without their bird bath.

Do you have it, or know who does? Please show some compassion and return it to its rightful place, therewill be no questions asked or recriminations.

Kate, Gymea

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Memphis is a top name for the Barber familyPOLL

THE MAGIC OF MEMPHIS: Terri Barber and her six-month-old son Memphis. When Terrie and Chris Barber began the search for their third son’s name something rather unusual came to the fore.

Instead of the more popular Oliver, William and Jack, the Rutherford couple turned to the home of Elvis to name their boy Memphis.

“We were trying to find something different that wasn’t silly or over the top and Memphis was what we came up with,” Mrs Barber, 31, said.

The couple kept mum while pregnant with their new baby (now six months old) only revealing his name hours after this birth.

“We officially named him when he was about five hours old and people were shocked when we told them his name, but everyone’s used to it now,” Mrs Barber said.

“But we have no idea what his nickname will be.”

Memphis James is also a baby brother of Zackery, 7, and Lucas, 5.

“Memphis really suits him because he is very different from the other boys … he’s a different one altogether,” Mrs Barber said.

But the Barbers aren’t the only Maitland parents turning to originality for the names of their offspring.

Included in this year’s list of popular Australian boys’ names are Dorian, Bentley, Evander, Xyrah and Zandyr.

But when it comes to truly out there baby names, it’s hard to beat the celebrities who this year have added Genesis Ali (Alicia Keys), Reign Aston (Kourtney Kardashian), Briar Rose (Rachel Bilson), Titan Jewell (Kelly Rowland) and Wyatt Isobel (Ashton Kucther) to the 2014 list.

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