Local, Politics

Council meeting to go ahead this Thursday – Contentious Orara Fire relief on agenda

Following the Australian Government’s ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 or more people and health authorities’ advice to practice social distancing, Coffs Harbour City Council (CHCC) will be implementing new arrangements for Council Meetings.

From 26 March 2020, anyone coming to Council Meetings to observe proceedings will be required to abide by social distancing. Chairs in the public gallery will be spaced 1.5metres apart as pictured below.

Gallery seating spaced 1.5m apart. Photo CHCC Facebook page

This will limit capacity, but Council may also provide some spaced seating in the Foyer outside the Chamber.

Council are also encouraging people to listen live to Council Meetings by connecting to Coffs Harbour City Council on Mixlr or via the free Mixlr app for android or iPhone/iPad devices. Simply install the Mixlr app then search for the Coffs Harbour City Council stream.

Audio recordings of Council Meetings are also available on SoundCloud the Monday after the draft minutes are published on Council’s website – www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au

On the agenda for Thursday night will be the allocation of Federal bushfire relief to the Nana Glen community. Coffs Coast Outlook (CCO) is aware of some disquiet among Orara Valley residents over the previous allocations of monies for bushfire relief in the Valley.

At a recent community meeting, using a professional facilitator, residents were asked to prioritise projects for the remaining $300,000 of the $1.3m Federal Government Bushfire Recovery Grant that was given to Coffs Harbour City Council to administer.

Image result for Liberation Trail fires
The Liberation Trail Fires ripped through the Orara Valley last November

The first part of $416,784 that was signed-off by Councillors at the February 13 meeting of Council has met with strong community opposition largely due to the allocation of $78,784 for the Lower Bucca Pre-School which is 10km from where the fires burned on 12 November last year.

Some angry residents have been asking Councillors to rescind the motion but without luck so far.

CCO understands Helen Schlangenotto has asked to address Council this Thursday in relation to this.

Also up for debate on Thursday night will be a proposal to improve access to Moonee Beach estate.

Councillor Amos has given notice of his intention to move the following motion in relation to this:

“That Council allocates $75k to investigate options for additional access to the proposed new estate at Moonee Beach north. The funding to be allocated from the 20/21 road infrastructure budget.”

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Based, in part, on a CHCC Press Release, Friday 20 March 2020. See; https://www.news.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/2020/03/20/coronavirus-arrangements-for-council-meetings/

2 Comments

  1. Helen Schlangenotto

    As a bushfire affected member of the Nana Glen Community & resident of Ellems Quarry Road it is important that we are aware and express our concerns about this agenda item that is to appear before the Council Meeting this Thursday, 26th March: “Federal Government Financial Support for Bushfire affected communities”

    The Councilors will decide on the latest allocation of monies in the Federal Govt Bushfire Recovery Grant @ $983,216. This is good because it reflects what the community voted for & the priorities they set the 2nd Bushfire Recovery Community meeting at Nana Glen Hall on 11th March.

    However, this recommendation to Councilors also STILL includes the first allocation of funds which was passed by Councilors on 13th February & has been the cause of so much community discontent & outrage. Despite numerous letters to Mr Steve McGrath, the Mayor & councilors this initial Program of Works will remain in place. CHCC are flatly refusing to rescind/amend the motion.

    However, now we have a very different set of circumstances with Covid-19 that renders three of the five projects invalid, eg Community Led Recovery Event @ $50,000 – cannot proceed due to enforced social distancing and limitation of gatherings over 100 people; Business & tourism support @ $68,000 to move visitors to affected areas – also cannot proceed for the same reason as above.
    The third, the Lower Bucca Preschool refurbishment for $78,784, is also invalid IMO as it was 10km from the fire zone & it was NOT bushfire impacted. Further investigation has revealed that the Preschool had applied for a Community Infrastructure Grant in July 2019 for $44,392 but was rejected and unable to receive the grant as further evaluation by CHCC’s logistics section was required in the next financial year 2020/2021. This evaluation is still pending in the future, so why are bushfire affected residents now asked to effectively forgo help due to them and pay for the total bill @ $78,784?

    As a result, CHCC councilors now have an opportunity & responsibility to rescind & amend this initial Program of Works! And to reallocate the monies totaling $196,784 to the priorities the Community has set!

  2. No money goes to any single resident/ landowner that suffered loss or damages.

    No direct assistance at all.

    Council have not even asked impacted residents (they know each place from the maps kept by Public Works) if they can help in any way, even 4 months down the track… can’t help in even cutting down trees on damaged premises.

    To me, Council seem more intent on using the funding to undertake maintenance on roads, bridges and schools, that Council should be using from other funding areas, and spending on their own agenda, and not what the community agrees or discuss themselves.

    Hohum…again Council prove they are
    totally out of touch with ratepayers, and continue to push their own barrows.

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