21.8 C
Byron Shire
December 8, 2021

Suffolk Park gardeners angry over Council’s double standard

Latest News

More COVID cases Byron and Tweed Shires

ight new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the Northern NSW Health District (NNSWHD) in the 24 hours to 8pm 7 December with Woody’s Surf Shack Night Club and Mullumbimby High School both known recent COVID venues.

Other News

Accusations of false dam claims in Cr Cadwallader’s mayoral campaign

Ballina Shire Council candidates against the idea of a new dam in Byron’s hinterland are accusing fellow candidate Sharon Cadwallader of false claims in her electoral campaign.

Make your vote count in the Council elections

I want to make my vote count, and elect a mayor and Council that actually represents local interests and...

Public school teachers across the region are on strike today

Hundreds of public school teachers and principals across the Northern Rivers will strike today )(Tuesday December 7) over what they say is the Government’s failure to address unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries which are contributing to growing shortages of teachers. 

Election week sees Vanessa Ekins doing her blocky

Enjoying a few precious minutes break in an election week is a real luxury and Lismore mayoral candidate and current Mayor Vanessa Ekins managed to fit an Echo interview in between her TAFE Auslan course and the pre-poll station on Woodlark Street.

Dad’s army called to arms as hospitality staffing crisis worsens

So dire has the shortage of hospitality staff in Northern NSW become, that the local chapter of the NSW business chamber is calling on retired workers to dust off their aprons and help out.

Which values are important for the region?

Public opinion sure is divided about the Dunoon Dam (the DuD). Clearly it does not have sufficient social licence...

Philippa Clark

Gardeners at the Suffolk Park Community Garden say they’ve been trapped in a procedural Catch-22 by Byron Shire Council, after it gave the green light to an expanded pump track (BMX track).

At Council’s December meeting, contractors World Trail were granted $200,000 for design and construction of stage two of the pump track at the Linda Vidler Memorial Parklands, despite the masterplan for the parklands not yet being complete. 

Suffolk Park community gardeners Santiago Chacra, Craig Scanlan, Cleis Pearce and Hernan Saez. Photo Jeff Dawson

Craig Scanlan, president of the Suffolk Park Community Garden, is demanding an explanation from Council for giving the pump track preferential treatment.

Mr Scanlan said the community garden ‘has been unable to develop its own plans because it does not have a licence… Council have repeatedly told us that we cannot apply for a licence until the garden is officially on the [Linda Vidler] masterplan.’

‘Yet the pump track has no licence, and no members, is already on the masterplan, was given $118,700 of council funds and now it is getting a further $200,000 from the development fund to build stage two.’

Labor councillor, Paul Spooner, who voted against the stage two proposal, said it was a ‘terrible decision’.

‘Why waste money on a masterplan if you’re just going to make decisions and ignore it?’

Cr Spooner said he couldn’t understand why a majority of councillors supported the pump track expansion, since the masterplan is due to be finalised in April.

‘Councillors who voted for it just made a mockery of that whole process.’

Greens councillor, Jeannette Martin, who supported the pump track expansion, said she thought the process was ‘odd’ and ‘very frustrating’ for the community garden, but supported the proposal because at the council meeting, she was ‘assured it wasn’t going to impact on the community garden, and that there had been conversations with the community garden people about creating a border of Lilli Pillis’.

Stage one of the pump track development had the support of the community garden, but on the day of the meeting, Council supported an amendment to also fund stage two, with the rationale that it would be cheaper to build the two stages together.

Craig Scanlan said the community garden strongly disapproved of the much larger stage two and was not told it would be on the Council’s agenda.

Yet councillor Cate Coorey, who supported stage two, told The Echo, ‘The pump track and the gardens are not incompatible.’

President of the Suffolk Park Progress Association, Donald Maughan, said there was urgency to build the pump track, as the SPPA was running out of time to use previously allocated grant money. Mr Maughan was frustrated that there was continued hostility over the track, which he said would be ‘an absolute godsend for the youth of our community.’

‘It won’t detract, it will add to the park. The kids want it, the kids need it, let’s just do it’.

Poor process 

Mr Maughan, Mayor Simon Richardson, and Councillors Coorey and Martin all expressed support for the community garden to become a licenced fixture in the park.

However, the main complaint of the community gardeners was the process, said Craig Scanlan. 

‘The issue is more that the progress association have been able to [move] forward their project without the masterplan, while the football club and the community garden have been unable to’.

A Council spokesperson said in a statement: ‘The pump track was identified as an action in Council’s adopted Open Space and Recreational Needs Assessment Action Plan… The community garden is an important part of the social fabric of the park, and Council staff have, and will continue to, work closely with members to support the gardens and its volunteers. The Masterplan is expected to be completed by April, which will then enable the community garden to get its licence and apply for grants’.

Philippa Clark is an Echo intern


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I’d like to see actual transparency and community consultation.

    I think the bike track will be amazing but due process needs to be acknowledged otherwise the trust is broken and then no one wins.

    Stop being w*nkers, Byron council. All the locals are slowly getting shoved or bought out and soon enough you’ll have your rich prospects to marry your kids off to but for now, locals still live here and deserve a say. And a cap in rent would be nice.

  2. There are so few amenities for the kids, they really need & deserve to have a great space to have fun in.
    Its their turn to have something just for them.
    Its tough for them to live in a world/planet adults have stuffed. Time to put them & their wellbeing first..

  3. Seems like some people have already forgotten that not long ago that land was for sale to a developer and SPPA and and the local community saved it for everyone to enjoy.
    The pump track is going to be fantastic for the community. More activities for kids the better
    And even with both stages of the pump track done at the same time, that will still leave plenty more room for the community garden to grow.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Serious crash – Alstonville

A man is in hospital following a single-vehicle crash in Alstonville on Tuesday afternoon.

Vote counting still underway for Tweed Shire Council elections

Around half of the potential votes have been counted in the Tweed Shire Council which have seen a surge in support for Liberal councillor James Owen.

COVID case sends Mullum High teachers and students into isolation

Mullumbimby High School has had a case of COVID-19 confirmed with all staff and students requested to self isolate.

Independents clear election winners in Byron Shire

Independent candidate Michael Lyon looks to have secured enough votes to be elected Mayor, with 3,372 votes, or 23.11 per cent of the total...