Royal visit: Royal Easter Show – day 3

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media
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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wowed the crowds at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. Pic: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax Media

Vet hospital plans for old Morpeth post office

VENERATED: Morpeth Post Office, built in 1880.THE historic Morpeth Post Office will be used as a veterinary hospital if Maitland councillors vote in favour of the proposal at a council meeting next week.
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A development application has been submitted that proposes to make small alterations to the inside of the existing building and erect signage outside it.

Williams River Veterinary would occupy the building and have one vet and two staff members at the clinic.

The zoning does not allow a veterinary business to operate, but council can approve the proposal if the owners meet specific criteria.

The building is listed as a heritage item under the Local Environment Plan and is within the Morpeth Heritage Conservation Area.

The ground floor would be used for consultations, surgery and animal hospitalisation, while upstairs would be used for storage, and the former mail room would be used to store animal drugs.

Two residents objected to the proposal with concerns about noise, traffic, parking and disabled access.

Tony and Lisa Amity said their bedroom was about 40metres away from the room where animals would be kept overnight.

They were concerned ‘‘barking or distressed animals’’ could disrupt their sleep during the night and affect their health and wellbeing.

Council officers concluded in their report that the issues were not significant enough to refuse the application, and have recommended that it be approved.

The business would operate between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 2pm on Saturday, and five car spaces would be included at the rear.

The post office was built in 1880 and was operational from 1881 to 2010.

Pensioner ire over Cardiff train station parking

A 70-YEAR-OLD woman says Cardiff railway station needs a multi-level car park, after she received a $101 parking fine on a recent visit.
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Barbara and Warren Loades, of Belmont North, caught the train to meet friends in Sydney.

‘‘Thank God they put the elevator at the station – they want you to go there, but where the bloody hell do you park?’’ Mrs Loades said.

They parked on a grass verge in the station car park.

‘‘It was at the end of a row of parked cars,’’ she said.

‘‘There weren’t any no-parking signs there and the space looked well used.’’

Mrs Loades had initially looked elsewhere for a parking space, but the only spots were a distance away in steep areas.

Mrs Loades said the fine wasn’t cheap.

‘‘We are pensioners,’’ she said.

Four other cars parked on the verge were fined that day, she said.

‘‘What a nice little earner for Lake Macquarie council.

‘‘I would like to make other train travellers aware of this revenue-raising,’’ she said, adding she hoped ‘‘the council will be putting all this revenue into more parking’’.

A council statement said ‘‘all revenue collected from parking fines goes into council’s general revenue stream’’.

It said vehicles must be parked in marked bays.

‘‘That area around Cardiff station car park is renowned for illegal parking, which causes significant concern for local residents and other car park users.

‘‘Regular patrols are carried out in the car park and surrounding streets.’’

The Newcastle Herald reported last month that the council had agreed to sell the car park to the state government for $1.

Mrs Loades said the site should have a multi-level car park, but Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell said he opposed such a plan.

Mr Cornwell said an extra 30 spaces would be reopened in the station’s upper car park, which was closed with the station’s recent $14million upgrade.

‘‘Employees used to take up a lot of those spots, whereas they will now be opened to customers,’’ Mr Cornwell said.

Almost 300,000 commuters a year use Cardiff railway station.

TICKET WOES: Warren and Barbara Loades received a $101 parking ticket after parking on a grass verge at Cardiff railway station. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

CRAMMED: Cars parked on the grass verge at Cardiff station, where Barbara Loades parked and received a $101 fine

Josh Osborn eyes premiership race

Josh Osborn with Cobla Stuie at Newcastle Paceway last year. Picture Jonathan CarrollWESTON driver Josh Osborn hopes to steal a break on Lauren Panella in the Newcastle premiership race tonight after edging ahead with a double on Thursday.
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Osborn, who won the drivers’ title in 2010 after three junior crowns, will drive two of his own pacers, Broken Spoke and The Prestige, tonight on the 10-race card. The final three races are non-TAB.

The grandson of late harness racing legend Dick Osborn starts the meeting with a two-win advantage over Panella, who is serving 18-day and eight-week suspensions which started after the Interdominion grand final on March 2.

Osborn hopes to build on his Newcastle premiership lead tonight and over the next few weeks before Panella, the No.1 driver for leading trainer Shane Tritton, returns.

Amazingly, Panella still leads the metropolitan drivers’ title with 27 winners, eight clear of her nearest rival, despite not competing for six weeks.

She is fourth on the state standings with 85.

‘‘I think that puts me two in front of Lauren and she’s got a month left, so hopefully I can get a few up on her before she gets back,’’ he said.

‘‘She will no doubt get plenty of winners when she gets back so I’ve got to try and get a head start.’’

Osborn was level with Panella at Newcastle before Thursday when Set In Stone, trained by Osborn’s second cousin Cameron Davies, won a heat of the Menangle Country Series (1609m) as the $2.30 favourite, earning a place in the April 27 decider. It beat home Martin Howell’s long shot, Holly’s Fantasy.

The Rex Spencer-trained Always Smart ($7.70) won race two (2030m).

Osborn was second in the other country series heat with Clayton Harmey’s Black Belt.

Mickey McRooney won the heat with Michael Formosa in the sulky. Formosa also won with Ultimate Art at the meeting.

‘‘Set In Stone’s going good and he’s always shown plenty of ability,’’ Osborn said.

‘‘With Always Smart, I’m dating [Spencer’s daughter] Laura at the moment, so it was good to get a winner for them.’’

The victories moved Osborn to 55 wins for the season across the state and 31 at Newcastle.

Broken Spoke, which is in race three (2030m), is a last-start winner at Newcastle and appears Osborn’s best hope tonight. The Prestige races in the fourth.

SPORTING DECLARATION:Jets in a holding pattern

ONCE again it has been a case of so near yet so far for the Jets.
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For the fourth consecutive season, the A-League finals will kick off with the Jets as spectators, and Sporting Declaration is struggling to comprehend how this has happened.

Where did it all go wrong?

This columnist might not be much of a judge, but in terms of both their personnel and several of their results, I reckon this was Newcastle’s best chance to achieve something since their 2007-08 premiership season.

Instead they have again finished with the also-rans and, all things considered, Newcastle’s long-suffering fans are entitled to regard the end result as their most disappointing season since the A-League kicked off nine years ago – even more anti-climactic than when the Jets collected the 2008-09 wooden spoon.

Let’s reflect on the past four campaigns, for starters.

In 2010-11, when Nathan Tinkler stepped in a month into the season to take over the club after former owner Con Constantine experienced financial difficulties, Newcastle briefly hit a patch of form, only to fade when Francis Jeffers returned to England after his guest stint and injuries to senior players started to take a toll.

The next season was a write-off before a ball was kicked when the Jets signed a marquee player, Jason Culina, who was unable to play because of a chronic knee injury, prompting Tinkler to sack the former Socceroo’s father, coach Branko Culina, less than two weeks before the opening match.

Last season was always likely to be a rebuilding phase, given that Branko’s replacement, Gary van Egmond, had overseen a cleanout of established players, most of whom he replaced with little-known rookies.

But 12 months on, with a full season under their belt, those tyros appeared ready to put their stamp on the A-League.

Throw in the experience of Emile Heskey, Michael Bridges and former Dutch World Cup defender Kew Jaliens, supplemented by the late additions of Joel Griffiths, David Carney and Nick Ward, and surely there was enough quality to claim a top-six position.

To complement the veterans, Newcastle’s roster included some of Australia’s brightest young talents, Adam Taggart, Mark Birighitti and Josh Brillante, plus a host of proven performers such as Ruben Zadkovich, Ben Kantarovski and Zenon Caravella.

At times, Newcastle looked as good as, or better than, any team in the competition.

Brisbane were the runaway minor premiers, yet the Jets beat them in all three encounters, and deservedly so.

Newcastle also had strong away wins against Western Sydney Wanderers, Melbourne Victory and Adelaide.

Yet their confidence crumbled during a mid-season slump that cost van Egmond his job, and in the countdown to the finals they were left to rue two costly results.

First, they led last-placed Perth 1-0 at nib Stadium with less than 10 minutes to go and lost 2-1. The following week, they were 2-1 up at home to Melbourne Victory and conceded a penalty in the dying minutes.

Those two games amounted to five points down the drain. Had they shown more killer instinct and hung on for two wins, they might have finished fourth on the ladder and earned a home game in week one of the finals.

Frustrating as this season might have been, the Jets improved on last year. They collected five more competition points (36 to 31), and improved both their attacking (34 to 30 goals) and defensive (34 to 45 goals) statistics.

They were 15 goals better this season than last, or more than half a goal per game.

All of which makes missing the play-offs all the more puzzling.

The bottom line is the Jets were not consistently good enough.

And the worry for supporters is the uncertainty surrounding their club, on and off the field.

Will next season be a step backwards?

From a playing point of view, Heskey appears certain to return to England, and Bridges has retired.

Griffiths and Carney are off contract.

Taggart, the A-League’s Golden Boot winner, has expressed a desire to head overseas, and who could blame him?

Birighitti and Brillante could well follow.

The coaching position remains up for grabs. Clayton Zane acquitted himself well in an interim capacity, but there has been no confirmation that he will retain the top job.

And then, of course, there is the ownership situation.

There has been speculation Tinkler is looking to off-load the Jets, and if that was his intention, it would hardly be a surprise.

When he assumed control of the club in October 2010, the self-made tycoon admitted he was no student of the round-ball code.

Since then he has invested millions in the club and does not have a single play-off appearance to show for it.

The reported price tags for the Melbourne Heart and Western Sydney franchises will surely have attracted Tinkler’s attention.

If there was a buyer willing to pay a fair price for the Jets, does anyone doubt he would take the money and run?