There is just over a year until the next Tweed Council elections and conservative councillors have been warming up to the task of discrediting the current majority of Green, Labor and independent councillors who have been at the tiller.
Councillors Warren Polglase (National), Pryce Allsop (independent) and James Owen (Liberal) have been running a campaign to undermine community confidence in what they refer to as the ‘Rainbow Four’: Mayor Katie Milne (Green), Deputy Mayor Chris Cherry (independent), Reece Byrnes (Labor) and Ron Cooper (independent) who have generally worked together towards a stable and pro-environment stance.
Mayor Katie Milne has defended both the staff and the majority of councillors saying that the ongoing attacks from councillors Owen, Allsop and Polglase claiming that councillors aren’t listening to the people of Tweed is aimed at laying the groundwork for next year’s election.
‘The minority councillors should be ashamed of themselves for denigrating this Council and our staff that are busting their guts for this community,’ said Mayor Milne.
‘There needs to be reality checks on the claims being made by these councillors. It is ridiculous to suggest developers are steering clear of Tweed because they are being treated like “predators”’ as claimed in the Tweed Daily News.
‘Development applications (DAs) are at all time highs and developers are snapping up land at enormous prices, but instead of talking up the Tweed and promoting business confidence it seems Cr Owen’s political ambition for the Council election is more important to him than the best interests of the Tweed.’
Mayor Milne also addressed accusations that staff morale was low and that council was spending irresponsibly on court cases saying that she has ‘never been advised that staff morale is low as claimed but I do know that staff feel insulted and offended by such accusations.
‘Cr Owen is actually guilty of the very type of politics he accuses the majority councillors of.
‘He complains that he is regularly outvoted but he has never once reached out to negotiate with me. If you look at his track record you will see that he has never attempted to initiate a single policy in Council.
‘The community rejected this sort of toxic politics when they voted out 5 of the 7 councillors at the last Council election.’
Court cases can be a significant cost to local councils when cashed up developers are able to challenge council decisions they aren’t happy with. However, Mayor Milne says the Tweed Council has been responsible with their choices in both approving and refusing applications.
‘There were nine courts cases last financial year. Three cases were lost from councillor-initiated refusals, three were lost following staff-recommended refusals, and three were lost by developers,’ explained Mayor Milne.
‘All in all it cost $297,000 for the cases resulting solely from the four community-based councillors. That equates to around $3 per resident or about 0.1 per cent of Council’s budget.’
Milne highlighted that it’s not just refusals that cost Council but that developments can also be a significant cost to council.
‘Cr Polglase and Allsop’s irresponsible support for the 19m commercial water extraction trucks at Urliup would have cost Council millions of dollars in required road upgrades and never ending road repair bills, and risked numerous lives on this entirely inappropriate road,’ she said.
‘An easy way not to lose any court cases would be to approve everything and forget about defending our community and environment, like the Polglase run Council that was sacked in 2005.
‘That sort of politics has already delivered Tweed the highest number of threatened species in Australia and left our iconic koalas on the brink of extinction.
‘Those sore loser minority Councillors fail to respect that it was the will of the people that elected this Council to protect our Shire from their Gold Coast style trumped up election aspirations.
‘I absolutely welcome low impact, sustainable and creative developments. Tweed needs to be a centre of excellence, not a hot bed for mates dodgy developments.’