I was amazed to see recent comments by North Coast Holiday Parks manager Jim Bolger trying to refute a correctly reported article stating that public access would be taken away.
Mr Bolger continues to wrongly and conveniently assert that ‘public access through the park (Terrace Reserve) will be retained’, when if fact, under his plan it will be limited to office hours, and with a 1.8-metre-high fence around it forcing kids and locals onto narrow roads.
He keeps up a smokescreen to the real big issue, the illegal cabins on the foreshore there blocking public access along it, by pretending to offer a compromise that submissions for longer opening hours would be ‘given serious consideration’. Sure Jim.
What the community has continually complained about is NCHP’s plans to block this access to the foreshore and river so we can still use the riverside walkway and our favourite swimming, fishing and kayaking spots.
Mr Bolger’s plans clearly show he is giving absolutely no public access to over 500 metres of the town’s riverbank and closing for good the historic riverside walkway that runs the entire length of the town.
Midden beach is the closest swimming spot and river access for over half the town’s population yet it too will be privatised meaning kids will need to walk nearly an extra kilometre and across seven busy roads for a swim and to get their kayaks launched.
This privatised foreshore will be for the exclusive use of his guests and deny access to the local community who have freely used all the foreshore for generations.
Mr Bolger’s spurious claim that he is not restricting public access works like this:
He has drawn up a strictly designated path through the caravan park running north to south.This enforced trek runs along the back blocks of the park winding through mobile homes and rusty caravans, yet nowhere near the beautiful foreshore walkway or the swimming and boating areas that we want access to.
Even if Mr Bolger’s designated ‘public’ walkway did run along the river, the plans state that it will be closed outside office hours, school and public holidays, busy times and whenever else park management feels like it.
Virtually no access at the times most required.
Mr Bolger also complains about ‘erroneous statements’, yet on the NCHP website, he makes the astounding statement that ‘the draft plans currently on exhibition do not remove any foreshore land from public use’.
The Foreshore Protection Group estimates that around 30,000 square metres of Brunswick Heads prime foreshore land will be taken from the public to facilitate the expansion of the three caravan parks as well as the privatisation of hundreds of metres of public riverbank and its walking and cycling track.
Mr Bolger should explain his outrageous claim, and not hide from the simple truth that it a land grab of public land for commercial gain.
A petition site has been set up for the community to voice their disapproval at these outrageous privatisation plans for Brunswick Heads.
Visit the Change.org site at http://chn.ge/1fgggCQ and let the politicians know that public foreshores and waterways are for all to share not just the select few.
Sean O’Meara, Foreshore Protection Group