I note with interest Byron shire councillor Alan Hunter’s reappearance in your pages last week.
While the residents of Pinegroves Road are understandably and justifiably angry, concerned and frustrated at their abandonment by council staff and councillors alike and the potential loss of amenity and the physical risks associated with the traffic up and down their country lane, there is a broader concern here for the community at large.
As I pointed out in my previous letter, penned at the time the Hunters’ DA for their ‘road transport terminal’ was being considered, Alan Hunter was stalking the corridors of the council chambers and the streets of the shire insisting to all who would listen that the proposed facility was necessary for the profitable, viable conduct of his farming business, i.e. for the inwards and outwards movement of supplies, machinery, and farm produce, generally.
Despite his previous form and the informed protests of the neighbours who had already endured a bout of his previous, non-approved, mini-storaging, council staff appeared to swallow this and the change of usage of his sheds was approved.
The Pinegroves Road residents, of course, had an advantage in this – they had already been exposed to several years of Mr Hunter’s relentless manipulation of the planning process, his obfuscation and his refusal to come clean with these neighbours as to his real objectives – still on red alert they continued to monitor the traffic movements up and down the lane with predictable results – the issue has wound up on the front page of the Byron Shire Echo (and Echonetdaily) again.
My concern, and I believe it should concern all residents of the shire is that Cr Hunter, who previously stood as a National Party candidate for the Federal seat of Richmond and who was elected as a member of the Byron Shire Council in September 2013, doesn’t appear to understand the enormous cost to the ratepayers in the time and energy of the council staff, consultants and councillors in considering his various DAs and in monitoring his subsequent behaviour in these matters.
As last week’s editorial correctly points out, a dispute over one of his development applications ended with a Land and Environment Court hearing on site, followed by a Settlement by Consent – importantly with each party paying its own costs.
Council’s staff costs and legal fees in that matter have never been disclosed but could safely be estimated as being many tens of thousands of ratepayer dollars.
My view, and it is the view of many with whom I have discussed this issue, is that, as an elected representative of other ratepayers, the councillor should consider that he is in a position of trust, ensure that his legitimate business activities are conducted within the terms of the approvals granted and that he is transparent in the way that he carries on those activities.
Failing that, he should withdraw from his position on the council and concentrate on his commercial life from outside the council chambers.
Graham Mathews, Byron Bay