Anger is being expressed over Ballina mayor David Wright’s refusal to state if he will step down from the joint regional planning panel (JRPP), the body that will consider the development application (DA) for the Lennox Head ski jump.
In an open letter to the JRPP that was copied to Ballina Shire councillors and local media outlets, the Lennox Head Against the Ski Jump (LHASJ) group have outlined why they do not believe that mayor Wright should sit on the JRPP.
‘Mayor Wright’s firm support for the ski jump has been made clear over the last four years, right up until very recent presentations to our children at school,’ states the letter.
‘To function properly and maintain public trust, JRPP members must be impartial. Therefore, given mayor Wright’s clear and longstanding support for the ski jump, it makes a mockery of the JRPP that he should be offered a position to hear this matter, and then for him to have the lack of judgment and probity to accept the position,’ it continued.
Mayor Wright has stated that he is yet to make a decision on whether he will sit on the panel or step aside for his alternate, deputy mayor Jeff Johnson.
‘The DA has yet to be assessed,’ said mayor Wright.
‘I will discuss my position with the secretariat when they contact me and am asked if I have a conflict of interest.’
Protest rally called
In the mean time the LHASJ group are launching the call to reject the state government and office of sport proposal for a 10 to 12 storey ski jump on its pristine coastline.
The recently lodged DA with Ballina council, by the office of sport proposing the development of a aerial training ski jump, would dwarf all local and regional buildings. A two storey building limit in Lennox Head and surrounding areas would mean that this could possibly be the tallest building on the North Coast, NSW said the LHATSJ group.
‘Their plan is to plonk the jump at the Lennox Head sport and rec camp where it will loom out of an otherwise pristine coastline. The jump would be made available to a very small number of elite athletes a year.
‘Rejected twice by the Queensland State government in 2012 for a lack of quantifiable social and economic benefits to the surrounding communities, Lennox Head now faces a battle royal,’ they continued.
The local community is organising a protest rally and walk against the proposed ski jump on Saturday May 27 at 2.30pm at Williams Reserve in Lennox.
‘The protest walk has been organised so that the community can come together as a show of resistance to this crazy idea – and let the Minister of Planning, Office of Sport and Olympic Winter Institute of Australia know that locals and visitors do not want this blight on this pristine coastline,’ concluded Michelle Shearer, spokesperson of LHATSJ.
NSW government planning panels secretariat, Stuart Withington, has responded to The Echo’s question about how they deal with a possible conflict of interest stating that:
‘As per standard procedure, as a council-appointed panel member, David Wright was sent the development application documents this morning, along with the rest of the northern planning panel members.
‘It is up to each member to advise the secretariat and the panel chair if they have a conflict of interest. However, if the chair believes a member has not appropriately managed or disclosed an interest, they can decide how best to manage the situation, including replacing the member with an alternate member.’
The secretariat, Withington, furhter clarified with The Echo that:
‘The planning panels secretariat and the panel chair take seriously upholding the integrity and reputation of the northern joint regional planning panel. All members of the panel are aware of their obligations under the planning panels code of conduct. The panel’s procedures provide a number of opportunities for panel members to decide if they have a conflict of interest before a matter reaches the public determination meeting.’
Further information on declaring conflicts of interest can be viewed at the planning panels code of conduct.
Come and join the public protest to this ridiculous ski jump this Saturday 27th May at Williams Reserve (the town oval) at 2.30pm. Let your voice be heard!