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Byron Shire
May 16, 2021

MP slams council over land sale

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Greens MLC David Shoebridge (left) with Ballina Greens councillor Jeff Johnson on the land about to be swallowed up by Lake Ainsworth Caravan Park. Photo Jeff Dawson

Luis Feliu

An Upper House MP has slammed Ballina Shire Council’s recent controversial decision to sell two beachfront blocks of land at Lennox Head to the adjoining state-government owned caravan park.

During a visit to Lennox Head on Sunday, Greens MLC David Shoebridge said the proposed sale typified what was happening up and down the NSW coast ‘as the state government looked to expand the commercial interests of its property portfolio and re-develop its caravan parks’.

‘What’s different about this case is that Ballina Council is initiating the sale against the expressed wishes of the local community,’ Mr Shoebridge said.

‘Where is the future vision and planning for this popular location? The Council should be keeping strategic land holdings to provide future amenity.’

Ballina mayor Phil Silver used his casting vote recently to push the sale ahead when the vote to sell the two blocks in Ross Street to the Lake Ainsworth Caravan Park for $1.3 million was tied. A later rescission motion also failed to overturn the decision.

Deputy premier Andrew Stoner now has the final say on whether the sale goes ahead.

Last week, a move for council to allocate the proceeds of the sale to the future re-development of the nearby Alstonville and Lennox Head Surf Club failed by one vote.

But councillors then unanimously backed another move for council to find out how much funding was needed to have the surf club redevelopment ‘shovel ready’, including planning consent.

At a meeting with North Coast Greens at the Lennox Head Community Centre, Mr Shoebridge was presented with a petition with over 1,000 signatures calling for the sale to be stopped and the land reclassified as community land to provide much-needed public amenity for the area.

Mr Shoebridge said he would table the petition in parliament and ask Mr Stoner if he was aware the local community was against the sale ‘and whether the state government was going to spend taxpayers’ dollars buying council land against the residents’ concerns’.

‘Don Page, as the local member and minister for the north coast should step in and stop the sale,’ he said. But Mr Page has already dismissed the call, saying it was ultimately a decision of council.

Petition organiser, Ballina Greens’ Cr Jeff Johnson, said it was vital for council to hold onto the blocks of land to cater for an expected doubling of the population there in the next 20–30 years.

Cr Johnson said Lennox Head was one of the most congested areas of Ballina shire.

‘Everyone comes down here, to swim in the lake and surf at the beach. It makes no sense to sell these blocks of land to allow for the expansion of the caravan park,’ he said.

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  1. The sale of the Lennox Head land to the caravan park needs an ICAC investigation. The General Manager of the Council, Mr Paul Hickey and the Manager of North Coast Accommodation (trustee for the State Govt), Mr Jim Bolger are best mates! This sale has been contrived by these two men without one once of concern for the public interest. It is all dollar related. The council gets a mates rates $1.3million for general revenue and the State Govt gets to own prime beach front and lake front land to do with whatever it wants ! This is outrageous.


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