Byron Cr Rose Wanchap has quit the Greens after crossing the floor on an urgency motion over the proposed West Byron development, siding with pro-development councillors against her own party to see the motion defeated.
Ms Wanchap has yet to return Echonetdaily‘s calls for comment.
During public access time at yesterday’s Byron Shire Council meeting, two community group members questioned whether she had a conflict of interest and should remove herself from the vote.
The renegade councillor and Byron Bay real estate agent was later tackled over the issue by a fellow Greens member outside the chamber.
Mayor Simon Richardson’s motion followed intense lobbying from the Byron Residents’ Group and was considered ‘urgent’ as the department of planning and environment is likely to make its decision within the next few weeks.
If approved, the planned estate of up to 1,100 dwellings in reclaimed wetlands would be the largest-ever development in Byron Shire.
Echonetdaily understands the motion will be re-presented at next month’s meeting but not as an urgency motion.
Tensions ran high during morning public access after the Byron Residents’ Group’s Cate Coorey and Philip Shine asked councillors whether, as a real estate agent, it was a conflict of interest that Cr Wanchap was voting on the development’s future.
Cr Richardson called the question out of order owing to a recent change in policy, which sees questions not being accepted during public access.
Mr Shine, from the Byron Residents’ Group, later told Echonetdaily, ‘We are not casting aspersions on whether Cr Wanchap has any conflicts of interests, but we wanted to know what the parameters are’.
During a break following morning access, a squabble erupted after former Greens council candidate, Jim Beatson, accused Ms Wanchap of a conflict of interest – something she vehemently denied.
National Party councillor Chris Cubis intervened and an argument ensued outside the chambers.
During public access Byron Residents’ Group’s Cate Coorey made mention of 2,389 signatories to a petition asking local member Don Page to intervene and stop the rezoning.
‘Of those [signatories], more than half are from people in the 2481 or adjoining postcodes,’ she said.
But those concerns were not shared by councillors, with Crs Alan Hunter, Chris Cubis, Di Woods, Sol Ibrahim and Rose Wanchap winning the vote against mayor Simon Richardson, Crs Duncan Dey, Paul Spooner and Basil Cameron.
The Byron Greens convenor has publicly called on renegade councillor Rose Wanchap to resign from council after she announced on Friday she was leaving the party.