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Byron Shire
May 16, 2022

Lennox takes to the street over Lake road

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The crowd attending a rally aimed at saving the road alongside Lake Ainsworth in Lennox Head. (Picture Eve Jeffery)
The crowd attending a rally aimed at saving the road alongside Lake Ainsworth in Lennox Head. (Picture Eve Jeffery)

The planned closure of an access road to Lake Ainsworth in Lennox Head sparked weekend protests, with residents claiming they were not ‘sufficiently notified or given a choice.’ As part of the proposal by Ballina Shire Council, a new park is planned.

Becky Gee from the Lake Ainsworth community group says ‘more than 95 per cent of 595 doors knocked don’t want the end of Pacific Parade, the “eastern access road” to no longer be accessible by vehicles from the life saving club to the Leisure Centre.’

Another resident, Simon Jones, told The Echo that Ballina Council agreed at the last minute to delay works but have yet to indicate how long that delay would last.

He says Preserving Lake Ainsworth Incorporated, comprising locals, has instructed a Ballina law firm to act on its behalf.

Gee says, ‘Thousands of cars a week will be re-routed along the caravan park, putting at risk kids who cross over there regularly. The cars will travel further up the dirt road to find a carpark through the turtle colony.’

Another plan is to remove eight established Melaleuca trees, a decision which Jones says came with little consolation with the community.

Cr Jeff Johnson

But one Ballina councillor in favour of the road closure and the creation of a park is independent Jeff Johnson.

The former Greens councillor told The Echo it was his belief the vast majority of the Lennox Head community want a ‘safe, car-free park.’

As for the tree removal, he said Essential Energy don’t want to put the power lines underground, so some trees will need to be removed.

‘My preference is that the trees remain, but council arborists – and other arborists – say that some have to be removed. I have asked staff to keep as many as possible.’

Cr Johnson says the group represented a small percentage of around 8,000 in the Lennox community who ‘overwhelmingly want the park’.

‘This has been debated for two to three years by successive councils.

‘Once it has been created and measures put in place I believe that they will embrace the park… there’s also a mythbusters factsheet on Council’s website – people have been misled.’

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  1. Hey Cr Jeff Johnson have you not bothered to look at the council plans for the road closure? You voted for the plan and also rescinded a motion to do further consultation on more options. The community assumed you’d examined it, but maybe that’s assuming too much.

    On your facebook page you boldly claim the “toilet block will be removed – FALSE” calling the fact that it will be removed “FAKE NEWS”. Please have a look at the council plans in the community centre, and you will read ‘Existing toilet block to be removed’ – yes it does!

    Jeeze buddy, do the logical have to spell out the facts to you because you continue to mislead, inevitably insulting the community?

      • Then why is the Lennox Head Resident Association posting plans in the Community Centre saying that the toilet block is being demolished? Is this the LHRA final wish, to have the toilets demolished, and should we trust them? All they’ve been doing the last year is shouting down anyone who questions their agenda to close the road, without considering any other factors.

        It is becoming apparent that due to all the poor communication from Council and Councillors, due to a small arguing minority that have stacked local representative organizations, and extremely poor holistic environmental and cultural considerations, that this whole project needs to be reconsidered and back to the drawing board.

        No wonder hundreds of Lennox people came out to protest, in their various forms. They’re sick of being talked down to and treated like fools by a handful of ‘close the road’ individuals and Councillors with overblown ego problems and control issues.

  2. Cr Jeff Johnson is a former Green Party councilor and business graduate from Southern Cross University. Does this make him:

    a) The definition of a tree Tory
    b) A political opportunist
    c) Both of the above

    You be the judge

    • This is a typical response from people who dont bother to actually investigate the issue. The road is literally falling into the Lake. you know when you step into the lake and feel stones beneath your feet? that is bitumen from the road.

  3. Hello Angry Geoff
    It’s time you and your grumpy old man friends take a back seat. Bring on the road! My family and friends all can’t wait for this to happen and the shameful way the keep the road open group are abusing and harassing Lennox Head residents is a disgrace. The sooner we get this over and done with the better. For those that say they will stop using the lake when the parkland is created.. Good! Stay away! More room for the rest of us. Lennox is getting more and more crowded all the time regardless of the lake road. We have to manage this appropriately, not ignore it as the road crowd wants us to do. All the while every time I walk in the lake I keep standing on bits of tarmac.

    • Dear David Stanlake.

      You understate the degree of intimidation people receive from the ‘close the road’ group if they have a differing opinion. Only a ageist would say “It’s time you and your grumpy old man friends take a back seat” as you demand. But I guess demeaning older people is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to your group’s strategy.

      Your group also refuses to consult or acknowledge the local indigenous people’s wishes in your demands. Nor does your group give a damn about the environmental impact on the western side of the lake.

  4. 1) People who were sincerely concerned participated in the process, which started 15+ yrs ago instead jumping on the artificial outrage bandwagon only 12 months ago.
    2) The petition targetted residents already sensitive to traffic issues nearby with fear mongering. Others felt social pressure to sign when someone landed on their doorstep. Others thought they were signing a lake health issue petition NOT a keep the road open petition. Others absent mindedly signed & regret it because of the damage this petiton has caused to Lennox community.
    3) Delay to works is due to seeking legal advice because this group delivered a threatening letter to Council.
    4) This group is yet to be incorporated as per the threatening letter.
    5) The quantity of re-directed traffic along the southern road claim has no validity.
    6) The safety of pedestrians on the southern road is excerbated by the footpath being absorbed by the caravan park a few years ago.
    7) The dirt track does not go through a turtle colony. It’s on the beach.
    8) If the contentious trees are removed there are 20-30-40(?) trees to replace them. The landscape architect has planned their siting to provide shade whilst ensuring grass grows. “songline” trees grown last century under power lines is not holding up well, with the rest of the community

    Lake health, accessiblity for all, safety for all gets priority over a road & “historical car parks.”

    That Jim is being informed.

  5. Geoff T this kind of negative attitude is why people wanting our new parkland are afraid to speak up. This thuggish attitude of shutting down anyone who dares to speak up has got to stop. Remember that Jeff Johnson got more votes than anyone else and one of his main running pledges was a parkland creation. Pip Carter was telling people at the polling booth at the school not to vote for Jeff backfired miserably. Pip’s own candidate, Keith, got the lowest of all three counsellors. In other words you should respect our democracy and let council do our job.

    • Yes I agree that the LHRA’S “thuggish attitude of shutting down anyone who dares to speak up has got to stop.” I know a number who support keeping the road open and finding a compromise have been intimidated from contributing.

      It is sad that you and the LHRA have made it into a political fight and you want your man, who got more votes, to ride gunshot over the other guy who got lesser votes. Many don’t think that’s democracy.

      You have to agree that the LHRA has been so political, domineering and nasty toward others with differing opinions over time, that it has lost its legitimacy. It’s time for it to go. Maybe the new inc group that’s being formed will be more consultative and representative.

      • Jeez Geoff get your facts right.

        There was no controversy over the lake road closure until the orchestrated hullabullo at 2016 Muster supporting the road remaining open.
        At this event, these organisers falsely informed their supporters, its all LHRA fault.
        Reality, LHRA merely one of many stakeholders consulted including disabilities professionals and state government orgs.
        It was 2013 (?) when LHRA went beyond an association vote or undemocratic president’s personal opinion, it held a community consultation in the village. Based on this process, LHRA made the well-informed stance to support the road closure.
        One cannot describe that as thuggish behaviour.

        Since the notorious muster, there have been new members determined to undermine the consultive and positive culture of the association.
        One observer who is ex-army has commented that they’re worse than any Sargeants’ Mess meetings & he’s been to enough of those meetings to make that qualified statement.

        LHRA has undertaken to deal with Council in professional manner because many of its members are accustomed to dealing with people in that manner. It has brought positive results for the Lennox community that other members of the community are blissfully unaware of.

  6. Interesting that the “keep the road open” group go on about the dangers to children on southern road, BUT do not seem to care about the safety of children or people crossing east road in present environment. I also doubt there will be thousands of cars traversing west road as council will be providing more car parks for visitors and locals to access lake easily.

  7. A) Local support, as per the petition that went missing in Sydney, is a constructed construct. Residents already sensitive to traffic issues were targetted with a good dash of fearmongering; others experience social pressure to sign; some mistaken the petition for a save the lake petition not close the road and others are upset their name is being used to create conflict in the community.

    B) Preserve Lake Ainsworth Inc does not exist yet. Ironically, they have supporters who want to put an excavator into the lake to make more land.

    C) The works delay is due to the council investigating the legal threat this un-incorporated group have made.

    D) No turtle colonies will be harmed on the western road because they are located on the beach.

    E) Kids safety on the southern road. Have the caravan park reinstate the footpath and fence that boundary just like all it’s other street frontages

    F) Saving trees? but been comfortable in the past year with cutting into dunes and excavating the lake.

    E) LHRA put up the plan provided by council, in the community centre. Therefore not responsible for any misinformation.

    H) Claiming LHRA has been the source of shouting down the opposition is false. Requiring all to behave in a respectful manner at committee meetings has proven difficult for some “keep the road” supporters.

    I) This issue has been around for 15+ yrs, stakeholders across the community and government bodies have participated in the process, and there are people who educated themselves on the matter. If the intensity of frustrated & outraged was present prior 2016, then it would have been detected.

  8. Geof, you really do live in dream world, we all know it is not LHRA that gaffitied the town, threatened to do what ever it takes to get the minorities way with eastern road.

    • Dear Bob W.

      Do you have evidence to support your claim about graffiti? How do you know it wasn’t someone from LHRA who’s into the graffiti? Seems your ‘close the road’ crew like to paint your opposition as ‘graffiti wielding grumpy old men’. It would be funny if it weren’t so stupid and illogical.

      I think your reference to, and condemnation of “minorities” is revealing. You’re either referring to: (grumpy) old men, indigenous people waiting to be consulted, environmentalists who care about the western lake, or all the above.

      • ummm Geoff
        I know I’m not the only one that noticed the same paint & “font” used on the rally signs.
        did the Close Road supporters paint them too?

        1) The well respected members of the Indigenous community have been consulted.
        2) The well respected members of the environmental concerns community have been consulted.

      • Hi, based my assumption on the fact the Paint, Stencil, Font and Message are same/identical to the sign brought illegally into the last Ballina Council meeting, by the disruptive “keep the road open” group, which the Mayor spoke to multiple times to keep quiet. If you did your homework properly you would know the indigenous and environmental groups have been consulted.
        Also waiting on answer to why your group has a priority to the safety of children and people crossing the southern road over those that have to cross/walk along the eastern road.
        Spoke to a lady this morning who was worried if the road closed, S&R would only have the western road to use for evacuation, I pointed out that the eastern road will only be blocked to cars and not emergency vehicles or in the event of a evacuation at S&R.
        bye for now


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