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Byron Shire
April 15, 2021

Trumpeting the virtues of the Blackwall Bugle

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The Blackwall Bugle is a magnificent little newsletter that the editor, journalists and contributors freely give their time to produce. Even the distribution doesn’t cost anything, as it is to be found in places like the Wardell service station, post office, pub, cafe and shops.

Every month local residents are interviewed and they give a first hand account of the history of their families and the area. This type of community news keeps a community together.

The only cost of the publication is the printing of the newsletter (two double sided A-4 sheets in colour), which is done by the Ballina Shire Council, and that is the biggest hurdle to its continuity. From August, the council wants to cut costs and post it as an electronic document on its website..

But who are the readers and contributors? Many are elderly, infirm, in wheelchairs, low-income earners, Aboriginal or on pensions. Importantly they are not computer literate and don’t own iPads or iPhones.

The council is quite happy to spend around $300,000 a year on the General Manager’s wages (this is a reportable figure in the council’s Annual Report, so the Privacy Policy doesn’t apply) and another three senior executives make up the balance to $1 million.

Yet here we are, the lowly ratepayers who have to forgo everything to struggle to pay an ever-increasing rates demand so the council can spend willy-nilly on high executive salaries and property development.

It’s about time we dug our heels in and asked some questions:

  • Why have we, the ratepayers of Ballina Shire, lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in rental income from lack of tenants at: Wigmore Arcade, Shelleys on the Beach, Pelican 181?
  • Why was there a cover-up about the documents which were to be sent to the Crown and remained in a stack of papers on a senior executive’s desk and resulted in a tenant being given six months free rent?
  • Why isn’t the Ballina Shire Council developing and selling any residential or industrial land?

More importantly, why is the Ballina Shire Council posting everyone a copy of its Community Connect newspaper when this could go out with the rates notices? Is the council afraid no-one will read the spin if it goes electronic on its website?

Mayor, councillors: the Blackwall Bugle needs to be preserved in its present hard copy format. Please bring some sense to the table when the next discussion takes place. Thank you.

Margaret Howes, Empire Vale

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