Councillors in Coffs Harbour tomorrow will have a number of issues that have been followed and reported on extensively in Outlook to consider at its meeting this Thursday.
By the Editor
- A changed proposal for City Square.
- A motion to reject the Government’s proposed by-pass changes and to ask for tunnels to be reinstated in the final plans.
- A claim for funding to do a further study on the economic benefits of proposed Great Koala National Park.
Council has been ‘working with’ CBD levy payers for almost six years now. Outlook has covered a number of aspects in relation to this not the least of which is concerns about genuine consultation with stakeholders.
Council are to consider a new proposal that sees Caffeine Central ceasing to trade in February in February 2019 because it is argued its place in the square effectively privatises that area according to a staff report. The MamaGOTO kiosk is to remain.
However Outlook is aware of questions and concerns pertaining to how genuinely reflective and accurate the minutes pertaining of the CBD consultation committee are and whether the proposed changes to shading around MamaGOTO make the viability of that kiosk problematic.
This in turn raises questions as to whether Council has truly taken into account ratepayer and community feedback on proposed changes to City Square or whether ‘vested interests’ are being accorded priority instead.
This issue has been going on for some time and the authenticity of the Council’s commitment to genuine consultation with the CBD levy payers has been repeatedly questioned.
How Councillors vote will be interesting. Outlook hopes to publish more on this issue later this week. But it is fair to say that ‘whispers’ we are getting are concerning.
Is this a case of Orwell’s Animal Farm all over again, as in “some animals being more equal than others”?
It is important to note that Council is not voting for a Western By-Pass. The motion is to request the State and Federal Governments to reinstate the tunnels into the final plans as was originally promised in 2014 when the original by-pass plans were finally released. Outlook wholeheartedly supports this motion, commends Councillor Rhodes for moving it and urges all Councillors to support it so as to send a strong unified message to the two Governments.
The Great Koala National Park (GKNP)
Council is being asked to approve a $25,000 application to analyse the economic benefit of the GKNP under the Environmental Levy Grants Program. Outlook understands that Council’s Environmental Levy Committee recommended the project for funding. However we understand that a Council staffer then wrote up a recommendation against the project in the Council meeting agenda.
The reason given by the staffer is that apparently Council shouldn’t fund the study because “the project has been determined as ineligible as it covers numerous Local Government Areas” in the Coffs Coast.
If true this is very problematic because it means the criteria around such grants are too narrow and because there is every case that money could be spent within CHCC boundaries anyway. If the criteria limit such studies solely to Council boundaries then they need to be re-visited and looked at on a case by case basis.
We live in a broader area called the Coffs Coast that is intertwined and where proposed projects have regional significance on economic, social and environmental grades.
Regional Significance is what Federal and state Governments look at when looking to help fund initiatives. Having myopic funding criteria that hurt being able to prove regional significance is nothing short of inane.
If these are the actions of a Council staffer, outside Council guidelines, which I doubt, then heaven help us!
The GKNP could be a real boon for our region. It would be nice to see Councillors look at the bigger picture here.