Council criticised over toilet, quarry plans

Nina Vipond (seated, far right) is among a group of Coolagolite residents concerned over BVSC plans for its nearby quarry.

Nina Vipond (seated, far right) is among a group of Coolagolite residents concerned over BVSC plans for its nearby quarry.

LACK OF communication with residents was the clear message from two deputations from the northern end of the shire at this week’s Bega Valley Shire Council meeting. 

Lindsay Parsons from Quaama gave a deputation on the transfer of responsibility of Quaama Hall’s toilet from the council to the Quaama Hall committee as part of BVSC’s ongoing public toilet rationalisation program that has seen facilities either demolished, upgraded or transferred to user groups.

Ms Parsons said the transfer would result in the committee locking the toilet when hall volunteers were not available, denying this facility to nearby park and bus-stop users.

Ms Parsons, a member of the Quaama Hall committee, said this decision had been made by council with no consultation or communication with any of the user groups or the general public.

Because of her deputation, the recommendation to endorse the report into the current public toilet renewal public was changed to exclude Quaama Hall, which will now be the subject of a staff report. 

Nina Vipond from Coolagolite also gave a deputation to council that was peppered with criticisms over its lack of transparency and communication. 

On Wednesday, BVSC sought the modification of a development consent to increase the volume of extracted material and extend approved crushing days at its quarry in Coolagolite. 

Ms Vipond questioned the validity of many aspects of the council’s consent application - from road safety to stockpile sizes - and said residents had no communication from BVSC on the issue. 

Ms Vipond is one of a group of residents currently seeking clarification from BVSC on the extractive buffer zones on their land because of the quarry (BDN 6/6).

The Coolagolite consent recommendation was deferred for further staff reporting. 

Littleton Gardens work put off for workshop

A REQUEST from the Bega Chamber of Commerce for a workshop with Bega Valley Shire Council over the later stages of the Littleton Gardens redevelopment was approved at this week’s council meeting. 

It followed a deputation from the Bega Chamber of Commerce president John Watkin. 

He asked further work on Littleton Gardens Stages 2-4 be delayed until a workshop takes place. 

As part of the workshop the Chamber wants to look at the recent Bega Traffic, Parking and Pedestrian Study as it still believes there are significant parking issues to be overcome. 

A recommendation the council host a workshop with the Bega Chamber of Commerce and the Littleton Gardens Consultation Group was approved unanimously. 

However, Councillor Tony Allen did take the opportunity to question the funding of Stage 1. 

Group manager of business and technology Lucas Scarpin confirmed Stage 1 had cost $800,000, but said an additional $200,000 was spent on urgent underground work that had been planned for Stages 2-4. 

Cr Allen said Stage 1 had overrun its budget and cost $1million, but was corrected by Mr Scarpin, who said it cost $800,000 and the $200,000 has come from Stage 2-4 funding. 

Gipps St was also the subject of another recommendation, this time the portion that was once the Princes Hwy.

Following extensive consultation between council staff and the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) an agreement has been reached over the transfer of the former Princes Hwy and the declassification of Carp St to a regional road and Gipps St and Newtown Rd to local roads, all now under the control of council. 

Council has accepted $1,344,462 from the RMS to repair these roads.

Group manager of infrastructure Wayne Satori confirmed work would begin later this year. 

Councillors approve pay rise, procurement policy

A RECOMMENDATION endorsing a Local and Social Procurement Policy that encourages local business to become more competitive was passed unanimously in this week’s council meeting. 

Council noted it is “still committed to obtaining the best possible value for ratepayers, but is endeavouring to support local suppliers and social enterprises where possible to provide a positive effect on the local economy such as increasing local employment”.

Group manager of business and technology Lucas Scarpin said ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) had made many councils wary of pursuing local procurement, but he was confident BVSC would work within state and federal legislative frameworks while still promoting the local economy.

Councillors also endorsed a pay rise of $900 for themselves at this week’s meeting. 

Councillors will now receive $17,930 per year and the mayor $39,110. 

Several councillors spoke in support of the pay rise, arguing financial remuneration was one way to encourage younger people to join council. 

“If we want to attract professionals we need to compensate them for their time, becoming a councillor shouldn’t just be for retired people,” Cr Kristy McBain said. 

“A more representative council is good for the shire.”

Cr Russell Fitzpatrick was the only councillor to vote against the motion (Cr Keith Hughes was absent).

“You become a councillor to give something to the community, the financial consideration shouldn’t come into it,” he said.   

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