Council and Concerned Ratepayers go head to head

CONCERNED Inverell Ratepayers Association (CIRA) rejected, in part, an offer by council to hold discussions on the Town Centre Renewal Plan.
Nanjing Night Net

CONCERNS: Concerned Inverell Ratepayers Association president Caroline Wilson speaks at Wednesday’s council meeting.

For months the association has been criticising the council since it approved the plan in June 2014, which includes possibly removing some plane trees from the CBD and installing a median strip.

Inverell Council Chamber was packed on Wednesday afternoon when about 60 people, the majority of whom were CIRA supporters, attended the council’s monthly meeting.

The first item on the meeting’s agenda was an offer from the mayor for the ratepayers group to meet with him and senior council staff to discuss their differences.

In her address to the council during Public Forum, CIRA president Caroline Wilson indicated they would rather meet with councillors than council staff.

“We consider a more effective process would be to first meet with all nine councillors, with minutes taken,” Ms Wilson said.

“You (councillors) constitute our elected body, you are the representatives of the people and ultimately you are the ones who vote for the motion. Unlike yourselves, senior staff are not subject to re-election.

“They are public servants, who in principle are subject to your decisions, so a meeting with them would be more appropriate if further discussions are required.”

CIRA secretary Larry Cameron – a former councillor – also spoke at public forum, and his message to council was blunt.

“These people you see here have left their businesses, some of them have left their farms and they have come here today because they do not want a central median with Pin Oaks, they do not want a fancy Port Macquarie style square at the intersection of Otho and Evans streets, and they do not want to see the Plane trees to be removed. That’s the guts of it, and that’s what you’ve got to think about,” Mr Cameron said.

Mayor not impressed with ratepayers’ campaign

AT Wednesday’s council meeting mayor Paul Harmon said the campaign waged against council by the Concerned Inverell Ratepayers Association was more vindictive than anything he had seen in his 10 years as a councillor. He said he had been surprised by the ferocity of those acting for the people who had a different view to council.

“You have previously stated that you will run candidates for the next election. I welcome that,” Cr Harmon said.

“I hope that your candidates never have to experience your husband or wife being treated like a leper when they are shopping at Inverell, or having your employer put you on notice due to a decision in council.

“I hope they don’t have to endure being ignored and shunned while representing council at official events, and only having the club president apologising for the behaviour of some people.

“I hope you don’t have to endure these actions, like my councillors and myself have had to in the past few months.”

OUR VIEW: BOTH SIDES NEED TO COMPROMISE

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