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July 15, 2024

Ballina Council October wrap-up

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Ballina Shire Council. Photo David Lowe.

Ballina Council’s October meeting was a bruising affair, with Mayor Sharon Cadwallader using her casting vote to force her way in two contentious decisions which split councillors evenly.

Serious concerns from councillors, staff, and potentially the state government were ignored in relation to Conservation Zones, with Ballina Council deciding to let affected rural landowners decide for themselves whether they had land worthy of conservation protection.

When things got heated, the mayor forced an adjournment, threatened to eject Cr Jeff Johnson, and ultimately used her casting vote to decide the issue. Opposing were Crs Kiri Dicker, Jeff Johnson, Simon Chate, Steve McCarthy and Phil Meehan.

The debate on local government boundaries went the same way, with Ballina Council choosing to change the wards of 2,500 of its electors in spite of the advice of staff, allegedly to eliminate ‘confusion’, in a move which some have alleged will damage the future electoral prospects of progressive councillors, as well as costing ratepayers more than the staff-suggested alternative.

Supporting Mayor Cadwallader and her deciding vote in this case were Crs Steve McCarthy, Nigel Buchanan, Eva Ramsey and Rod Bruem.

The divided community of Wardell. Photo David Lowe.

Not just tennis

After councillors accepted the annual financial statements, there was a discussion about the Wardell tennis courts.

This debate demonstrated the clash between old and new in this small village in the south of the shire which has more than its fair share of conflicts, not helped by grant monies flowing into the area since the devastating floods.

Following a presentation from the Tennis Club, Cr Nigel Buchanan sought to secure a slot for ‘traditional users’ of the courts, which are increasingly being used for sports other than tennis, a trend welcomed by several councillors.

Council staff struggled to find a legal form of words to accommodate Cr Buchanan’s request before ultimately resolving to give the tennis club interim management of the courts until formal tenure is resolved. Courts will be reserved on Tuesday evenings for tennis, with bookings one week in advance, and access keys will be left at Wardell businesses until digital key pads are able to be installed

Council then voted unanimously adopted a schedule of stormwater upgrades, ignoring a long in-person submission from Ballina resident Ralph Moss.

Ballina Mayor Sharon Cadwallader. Photo David Lowe.

Crime

There was also unanimous support for Mayor Cadwallader’s mayoral minute regarding a parliamentary inquiry into crime, law and order in regional NSW, as proposed by the Country Mayor’s Association of NSW.

Lennox Head’s strategic plan was finalised, council resolved to allow Ballina Little Athletics to use three shipping containers on public land at Chickiba Park for another year, and Boomerang Park was classified as community land.

Late in the meeting there was another discussion about aircraft noise from Ballina Byron Gateway Airport. Following a detailed response to questions from Cr Simon Chate, councillors unanimously agreed to accept the staff comments as a report, although there were some unaddressed concerns, particularly about noise from aircraft training.

Council then moved into confidential for a a discussion about a legal dispute relating to an easement in Ferngrove Estate. Council delegated authority to the General Manager to resolve this matter.

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