Chamber call for Govt probe
By GARY CHIGWIDDEN
Local Government Minister, Tony Kelly, has been asked to investigate why Byron Council has not spent almost $1 million in developer contributions on muchneeded improvements at Bangalow.
The town's chamber of commerce unanimously resolved to make a formal complaint to Mr Kelly over what it claims to be "the unprofessional and incompetent handling" of Section 94 (developer) funds at Bangalow.
In a letter to Mr Kelly, chamber president, Michael Malloy, said the chamber had tried all reasonable means to resolve the issue with the council and had been reluctant to make the complaint.
But Mr Malloy said after nearly "12 months of frustration and inaction", the chamber called on Mr Kelly to investigate the council's actions and if warranted, give it a clear direction to quickly deal with the matter.
He said the council had denied for some time that it was holding any section 94 funds for Bangalow.
But after months of persistence and behind the scenes work by chamber members, the council had finally admitted that there was $958,777 in unspent funds for the town.
Mr Malloy said while money collected for open space was used to buy land for sporting facilities and a swimming pool, the council had shown itself incapable of managing the necessary mechanisms to commit any of the remaining Section 94 funds.
He said the chamber of commerce had bent over backwards to help the council.
Mr Malloy said said several people had tripped and fallen on uneven footpaths, with one lady being hospitalised and another breaking an arm.
"We are not talking about building the Sydney Harbour Bridge," he said.
"At the end of the day we are just talking about putting down paving."
Cr Ray Kestle, who has been working closely with the chamber on the issue, said collecting and spending Section 94 funds was a "complicated area".
Cr Kestle said in many cases, matching funding from either the council or through grants, had to be found before the money could be spent.