Local, Politics

Gurmesh Singh describes Council’s ‘obsession’ with Gordon St as ‘short sighted and tone deaf’.

Questions have been raised over the Regional City Action Plan 2036, after Coffs Harbour City Council (CHCC) say that the State Government removed mentions of the importance of art and culture in Coffs Harbour.

By TripleM – Coffs Coast

Back in late June, Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight raised concerns on Triple M about the change, saying that council wanted to know why?

“In the draft that we got in November last year, it had art and culture and creative industries, that was as important as anything else in the city, for example, sport”, Cr Knight told Triple M.

Coffs Harbour Council obsesses with unpopular Gordon Street proposal – State member for Coffs Harbour, Gurmesh Singh

“We’ve now got the final copy, and it’s hardly mentioning art and culture, and creative industries.”

“It’s very disappointing when the council plan has got art, culture and creative industries in there quite heavily, and then it goes to the State Government and there’s virtually no mention of it at all, and we are wondering why?”

While accepting the majority of the plan, the lack of reference to the Cultural and Civic Space project, along with Arts and Culture from the State Government was described as a ‘glaring omission’.

In a statement on Friday morning from the State Member for Coffs Harbour, Gurmesh Singh, said, that feedback on the Draft Coffs Harbour Regional City Action Plan was sought from all interested stakeholders and citizens.

“Some of the feedback to my office has indicated that there should be a greater focus on arts and culture. I agree”, he wrote.

Mr Singh said that while arts and culture were certainly mentioned multiple times throughout the document, he agrees that it should have a separate sub-section similar to Sport.

“Council’s obsession with its Gordon St project is short-sighted and tone-deaf in the current economic climate. Arts and culture in Coffs Harbour is about far more than just a deeply unpopular and expensive building comprising more than 50% council administration”, Mr Singh said.

Following Mr Singh’s statement, the CHCC responded with their own statement disputing the figures used by the MP.

“Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh MP has today claimed the Cultural and Civic Space project has more than 50% council administration, this is not true.

To correct the record, it should be clearly noted the Council administration component of the Cultural and Civic Space is less than 30%.”


To read the Draft Coffs Harbour Regional City Action Plan and provide your feedback by 31 July, please visit www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/coffsharbourrcap

First published at TripleM – Coffs Coast Friday 24 July 2020- See; https://www.triplem.com.au/story/short-sighted-and-tone-deaf-coffs-mp-describes-council-obsession-with-gordon-street-project-164292



  1. Well the State Member was on the right track in quoting “50%”, it will only be a matter of time before Council occupies 100%.
    Those who doubt it, should look to the manipulated history of the long, long awaited “entertainment centre” and how the Council offices were never mentioned in the original “Civic Centre” plans.
    It is too hard to imagine that Council will not become more bloated and that it would be all too easy to convince those who beg Council’s favour, to hand over their beloved arts and library space.

  2. “To properly correct the record, it should be clearly noted the Council administration component of the Cultural and Civic Space ought to be 0%.”

    . . . and it shouldn’t be built in Gordon St.

  3. Mrs Courtney

    Perhaps the State Government woke up to the fact that certain of the Coffs councillors were calling whizz bang brand new, but unnecessary, council offices art and culture?

  4. 40cmPedestalFan

    So, so close a Council response to coming straight out of ‘Yes Minister’!

  5. Mr Creosote

    Let’s hear Mayor Knight say it again, “How dare he” !!
    There are many people who think that arrogance is the way to get respect, but they fail to understand that pride and arrogance are the precursors to failure.
    After creating a gap between aspiration and reality, the Mayor and her cohorts have seemingly failed to win support from State Government in relation to The Gordon Street Civic & Cultural behemoth. Not to mention from the extremely concerned community at large.

  6. Gabrielle Brabander

    Percentage of Council Administration component in this building should be zero.

  7. Rikki Bekker

    Denise in denial again I see.

    There is no entertainment centre being proposed, the so called thirty percent of council chambers is designed to be expanded should other nearby councils be so unfortunate as to merger with the CHCC (even that bloke Blind Freddy can see that), you cant sell the buildings in today’s Covid19 environment and the population you supposedly represent doesn’t want your grandiose Emerald Palace.

    And maybe, just maybe, State Government has woken up to this?

    Gurmesh Singh’s caricature of you and three other Councillors and your over paid megalomaniac Executive as “obsessive, short sighted and tone deaf” is dead right and represents what his constituents think on this issue – including many who didn’t vote for him.

    Get off your high horse Denise.

  8. I guess the $76 million question is: Does the claim that “Council administration component of the Cultural and Civic Space is less than 30%.” include the proposed “Multi-purpose Room and Chamber”, “Customer Service Area”, the so-called “Shared Spaces” and “Underground Parking” for council vehicles?

    Surely all of these areas fall within the “council administration component” and not just the council ‘penthouse’ on the top levels of the building?

    Whoever made the 30% council administration component claim, either cannot decipher plans, add up floor space, or more likely, is simply making another cunning attempt to mislead the community.

    • 40cmPedestalFan

      These are excellent points and I hope they are properly and publicly clarified, if not investigated.

  9. John Cleese

    I know I give Gurmesh a bit of a hard time , but hats off to his comments on the council arrogance and fixation on this project.The council has completely lost their focus on important issues.Keep the comments Gurmesh

  10. Graeme Sheehan

    It’s high time Denise and company faced the reality that their grandiose, indecently expensive vision has hit the wall and now lies in a pile of tangled wreckage.

    With no state government or broad community support, no finance, no government funding, no buyers for existing council buildings or the museum and no foreseeable prospects, just when will council stop throwing more ratepayer money at this seemingly never-ending madness and just concede defeat?

    Instead of continuing to pursue the CCCC idiocy, how about using ratepayer money and Federal and State Government stimulus funding on the backlog of infrastructure maintenance that was promised by council in lieu of the last 17.5% special rates variation in 2016 – works that were not fully delivered?

    Projects might include works normally considered to be core council functions like fixing the parlous state of the many streets and roads in the LGA, many of which are simply a patchwork of repaired potholes.

    But I suppose when you’re supplied with a brand-new, fully maintained ratepayer funded vehicle every couple of years, potholed and rough roads are the least of your worries.

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