A longtime campaigner against the state government’s ‘land grab’ and control of Brunswick Heads’ three Crown reserve caravan parks stormed out of a Byron Shire Council meeting last Thursday in disgust at the vote by councillors to extend state control of two of the parks for a further 12 months.
Michele Grant from the Foreshore Protection Group told Echonetdaily after walking out that the three Greens councillors had failed to consult each other and produced contradictory or ‘dud’ motions on the issue.
Mayor Simon Richardson and Crs Duncan Dey and Rose Wanchap have often voted at odds with each other on different controversial issues since being elected on the Greens party platform last September, which has sparked anger among supporters.
This time it was Cr Richardson who was out of step with colleagues, and the majority of Brunswick Heads residents who have long campaigned against the state government moves encroaching on Crown and council lands, by voting against their wishes.
Byron residents have been ropable ever since the state government grabbed control of the parks six years ago from Council and started developing them in an effort to boost state government coffers.
Not content with reaping the financial benefits, managers North Coast Accommodation Trust (NCAT) have also been steadily encroaching on road and shoreline boundaries, say affected residents.
‘Needless to say we are very disappointed with the outcomes from the Council meeting,’ Ms Grant told Echonetdaily.
‘Unfortunately, Green councillors failed to consult each other or work as a team and produced contradictory (dud) motions.’
The final amended motion approved NCAT as manager of the Massey Greene and Terrace Reserve caravan parks for another 12 months, and also called for continued negotiations ‘with the other affected parties to find agreement on maps and to define operational boundaries’.
It also requested that NCAT prepare and exhibit a draft plan of management for the parks ‘within six months from the date of this resolution’.
In her address to Council in morning access, Ms Grant said, ‘We believe the signed agreement will allow NCAT to continue to disagree with Council’s proposed boundaries and enable them to push ahead with the inclusion of extended park boundaries in the new POMs (plans of management) – with or without Council’s agreement, unless they [NCAT] are firmly stopped now by Council and clearly directed to adopt the new boundaries detailed in the new licence agreements,’ she said.
‘The office of the premier has suggested there’s been inadequate consultation.’
However during debate, Cr Richardson said he ‘would rather get 60 per cent of a good deal than zero per cent of a great deal’.
‘This is about good faith and working with the Crown department.’
But one of the few who exhibited strong opposition was Cr Basil Cameron, who said, ‘I have concerns about the process and [NCAT’s] commitment. Our delegates have come back and say they have doubts that we will get the best result with this. I would like to see genuine good faith by NCAT.’
The comments were backed by Ms Grant, who said the community has ‘never been consulted’, and, ‘The Department of Lands are a law unto themselves’.
Crs Dey, Cameron and Wanchap voted against the motion.