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Byron Shire
June 23, 2024

Foundering on the rocks of ideological mindsets

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I was the councillor who put up the urgency motion to purchase the recently sold, ex-Telstra property. I was also the chair of the Affordable Housing Committee.

Although opposing the purchase, Ross Tucker, the councillor right marker, conceded ‘it was a good buy’.

In an absolutely prime location, possible uses for the property were many and it is a sad reflection that between the councillors and the staff we managed to lose them all.

Although it is now being used as a sale justification, we had the contamination problem assessed early and it was never considered to be a serious impediment, considering that most prospective developments would involve capping the site.

Despite the revisionist history currently being touted, the story of leasing was one of councillor ideological bickering and staff reluctance to do anything beyond raise obstacles. There were a number of well-founded community organisations bidding for the site who fell foul of this toxic mix.

The sale price represents a loss to the ratepayers when inflation and costs are factored but in the context of other outlays such as consultants and planning cost on other failed ‘affordable’ housing projects, such as south Station Street, the amount is probably small.

My experience leads me to the unfortunate conclusion that unless there is a committed majority of councillors constantly pushing a project it will founder on the rocks of ideological mindsets, timidity and staff agendas.

Tom Tabart, Bangalow

 


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