Council producing a string of ‘epic fails’, new group says
A NEW community group was launched today at the first meeting of Byron Shire Council for 2016.
The Community Alliance for Byron (CABS) is a collection of community groups dissatisfied with council's procedures and practices and the unplanned and the unchecked development they say is taking place across the shire, "outside of sound planning principles and without community consent."
"We have come here today to convey the message that council must put community and environment first," Bethany Hudson, a spokesperson for the group from Sunrise, said.
"The dissatisfaction, frustration and anger that people are feeling about what is happening in our shire has reached critical mass and we are all pulling together to make council accountable to us.
"In December 2014, council resolved to adopt the Better Planning Network's Community Charter for Good Planning.
"But since then multiple decisions made by council have flown in the face of the principles outlined in the charter."
The group have compiled a scorecard matching council's activity since it adopted the charter to the Principles of the Charter and the results, they say, are a string of 'epic fails' including:
- Council agreeing to allow a change of usage for rural land at Ewingsdale for 260 homes and a hectare of commercial development, despite the zoning not allowing it, recommendations against it by the Dept. of Planning and overwhelming opposition from the community;
- The exclusion of the community from the decision to build a rock wall at Belongil;
- The censuring of a committed volunteer via a Code of Conduct complaint and the ignoring of serious breaches of the code by councillors; and
- Complex development applications being put on public exhibition for only 14 days.
"Many of us in Byron shire feel we are being ignored by council," said Ms Hudson.
Not to be ignored
"In some cases residents are being treated like nuisances and even opponents of some councillors and council staff.
"We are ratepayers and it is our shire.
"We deserve respect and outcomes that benefit the environment and the majority of the community not just a handful of people who are in the long run will only take from Byron shire, not give."
"We must see the community charter actually implemented. That means proper planning being done, underpinned by a Growth Management Strategy that considers the environmental values and future needs of the shire and which involves genuine community participation in planning processes."