Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Ongoing community concerns about Clarence Valley Council's redevelopment of Maclean's McLachlan Park is not confined to trees, parking, toilet blocks or loss of green space

Map excerpt showing the Clarence Coastal Zone & surrounding zones

The coastal zone is illustrated on the maps produced to accompany this policy which will be available for public inspection at all local councils. Mapping of the coastal zone is based on the following criteria.
* three nautical miles seaward of the mainland and offshore islands;
* one kilometre landward of the open coast high water mark;
* a distance of one kilometre around:
   all bays, estuaries, coastal lakes, lagoons and islands;
* tidal waters of coastal rivers to the limit of mangroves, as defined by NSW Fisheries’(1985) maps or the tidal limit whichever is closer to the sea;
* with the line on the maps being taken to the nearest cadastral boundary and/or easily recognisable physical boundary, in consultation with local councils. [NSW Coastal Policy 1997, Part A & Part B]1

McLachlan Park in the Lower Clarence Scottish Town of Maclean has been raising the ire of residents and ratepayers ever since the $1.13 million redevelop plan for this park, sitting virtually atop the town's levee, was first disclosed in all its 'glory'.

This time the issues of local government transparency and accountability, as well as using Clarence Coast Reserve Trust monies raised in Yamba to meet the mounting costs associated with this redevelopment, are at the bottom of this particular exchange between one ratepayer and Clarence Valley Council, reproduced here with permission of Mr. Hunt.

From: Ray Hunt [redacted]
Sent: Saturday, 3 January 2015 11:55 AM
Cc: Richie Williamson; Craig Howe; Sue Hughes; Jason Kingsley; Margaret McKenna; Jim Simmons; Karen Toms
Subject: Re: McLachlan Park

Mr David Morrison,
  Its unbelievable.
  Your email 24-12-14 is acknowledged, (apparently) on behalf of Mr Peter Birch, Director of Environment, Planning and Community to my simple inquiry three months ago, viz: How was it possible that the CCRMS Coastal Zone definition (p30) which expressly specifies a 1 km strip along the coastline, can include reserves in Maclean some 20ks up river?
Three months to think about it, yet you avoid the question.
The CCRMS was adopted by the Minister 18-12-02 pursuant to Sect 114 Crown Lands Act and no operations can be undertaken unless it is in accordance with the CCRMS.
  I also note your comments on the inclusion into the CCRT, the Herb Stanford park. But again you do not explain how this park some 20ks up river can be included into the CCRT when the CCRMS coastal zone definition expressly specifies a 1k strip along the coastline.
Whatsmore, when that matter came before Cllrs at the CCRT meeting 8-10-14, even the Cllrs were not informed.
  It is this same lack of accountability, reminiscent of the past, when Cllrs were not warned when they were deciding CCRT matters, enabling CCRT revenues to be exploited and pay for Councils services.
  Due to this lack of accountability, I had little choice but to lodge a complaint with Crown Lands with whom the reserves are vested and was in possession of the CCRMS which it knew or ought to have known was flawed.
Unfortunately, without first consulting me, Crown Lands sent it to Council as the Trust Manager and Mr Birch gave his undertaking to address the issues I raised.
But it seems no one wants to be accountable.
  Its more than a coincidence that one day after responding to an inquisitive Mayor that I had lodged my complaint with Crown Lands and not Council, Crown Lands informed me it was not responding to my complaint as it had requested the Trust to respond and the Trust (Mr Birch) gave its undertaking to do so.
Then came your email (apparently) on behalf of Mr Birch, that "Council was not obliged to reply to matters raised by me to Crown Lands---"
So who is obliged?
With great respect that obligation now rests with you.
  There has been no entrapment here. Mr Birch, a senior officer in Council and representing the Trust manager, was fully aware of the situation and freely gave his undertaking to address the issues I raised concerning Councils management of the CCRT.
I hope the integrity of senior operational staff has not sunk to the depths where they can openly lie to the community and not be held accountable.
  The issue of the Coastal Zone however, is not the only issue that remains unexplained. So too are the issues of  Sect. 10 CLAct ( management for the benefit of the people of NSW) and Councils perceived conflict of interest as the CCRT Manager as well as Councils lack of accountability and community consultation meetings.
Iluka, Yamba and Brooms Head are just the few communities that are making significant sacrifices to their valuable CBD water front lands to contribute to the CCRT. But there is no benefit, fairness or equity to them.
  In particular the Harbour St., residents are subjected to noise, traffic congestion, obstructed views and depressed land values, so that unquantified amounts of CCRT funds can be spent on the beautification of Macleans multi million dollar CBD water frontage, improving views and increasing land values to the River St. residents.
It is not unreasonable for those few communities that are making those significant sacrifices, to want a say in the management of the CCRT that has extensive socio-economic impacts on their lives.
  But more to the point. Why are you trying to prevent it? In doing so, operational staff are exceeding their administrative functions and usurping the role of Cllrs and their policy making functions of directing and controlling the affairs of Council. Your behavior demonstrates your intentions to protect Councils perceived conflict of interest in an indeavour to exploit the CCRT.
  If reserves are funded from the CCRT caravan park revenue, then the larger "the CCRT Manager" can make the caravan park to generate more CCRT revenue, the more savings "the Council" makes to service the wider Clarence Valley.
This may benefit the wider Clarence valley, but it exploits those few communities that are making significant sacrifices to generate the revenues for the CCRT. There is no benefit for them.
Their facilities are left to deteriate in a long waiting list, unable to compete in a competitive tourist market.
Yamba for example:
#   Resurface Ford park as promised 10 years ago and include potable recycled water sprinklers from the Yamba STP that crosses Ford park before it is discharged to sea,
#   Upgrade Yambas zig zag path in Flinders park as promised 15 years ago and improve surrounding aesthetics.
#   Upgrade Yambas rock pool to include barriers and pump to maintain water quality and a safer environment.
#   Assist the funding of volunteer Landcare groups
#   Make the CCRT financial records more transparent to Cllrs and the community.
  If fairness and equity and indeed productivity is to be achieved in the management of the CCRT, those few communities that have made significant sacrifices to fund the CCRT, must be given an effective voice in its management to prevent them from being exploited in the manner you are doing.
I have suggested Sect 355 C'tees or Precincts similar to the Ballina Coastal Reserves Management Plan.
  Accordingly, I respectfully await the Trusts response in addressing the issues I have raised.
Ray Hunt

On Wed, Dec 24, 2014 at 1:55 PM, David Morrison <> wrote:

Dear Ray,

I am responding to and acknowledge your email of 28 September 2014 forwarded by Crown Lands on the 1 October 2014. I am also responding on behalf of Council's Peter Birch.  Council also acknowledges your email of 28 October 2014 to Crown Lands and forwarded to Council on the 3rd November 2014. Council notes that your email of 28 October to Crown Lands was primarily to lodge a complaint about Council and Council's role as Trust Manager of the Clarence Coast Reserve Trust (CCRT). Council is not obliged to reply to matters raised by you to Crown Lands, but will provide a response to Crown Lands if required.

On matters raised in your email of 28 September 2014, Council provides the following response:

Inclusion of non-coastal zone reserves within the CCRT
Council notes that Kevin Cameron has provided a reply in regards to this matter, and concurs with it.

Application to the Minister for Crown Lands to include Herb Stanford Park (R8422) in the CCRT
Herb Stanford Park (R8422) is gazetted as road reserve. No Trust has been appointed to this reserve and the gazetted purpose does not meet the definition of a public reserve under the Local Government Act 1994. However, Council and the community of Maclean have developed this park over time for the benefit of the Maclean and wider Clarence Valley Community. To ensure its ongoing care, control and management the CCRT have applied to the Minister to have this small but community important reserve included as part of the CCRT.  

Redevelopment of McLachlan Park
The adopted budget for the redevelopment of McLachlan Park will be undertaken largely with grant monies ($500K – Regional Development Australia Fund; $300K – Better Boating Program) and from the sale of Operational land in Maclean ($500K). The CCRT may contribute some monies to complete the redevelopment of this reserve if required, but it will not be in the order that you claim. Similarly, Council and Council as Corporate Manager of the CCRT will apply for grant monies as opportunities arise to offset the majority of the cost of the proposed redevelopment of the Calypso Caravan Park.

Management of Crown Reserves in general
Council and Council as Corporate Manager of more than 90 Reserve Trusts manage more than 200 Crown Reserves covering approx. 1240ha on behalf of the people of NSW. This is in addition to the 272ha of Community and Operational land owned by Council and developed as public open space. Council is aware of its responsibilities as Trust Manager of Crown Reserves under the Crown Lands Act 1989 and will aim to ensure equity of service provision across all public land managed by Council on behalf of residents and visitors to the Clarence Valley. This may include grouping Crown Reserves under fewer Reserve Trusts to improve the efficiency of the management of Crown Reserves on behalf of the people of NSW.

I trust that this clarifies the situation for you.

Yours faithfully

David Morrison
Acting Director Environment, Planning and Community

David Morrison
Manager Strategic & Economic Planning
Clarence Valley Council
Locked Bag 23, GRAFTON NSW 2460
P: (02) 6643 0204
F: (02) 6642 7647
M: 0408 296 365

Foot Notes

1. NSW Environment Minister Rob Stokes has announced the development of reforms to the State’s coastal management laws, including improved technical support and new funding arrangements for local government coastal management initiatives.

The coastal reform package is expected to come before the State Parliament at the end of 2015 and will replace the 35-year-old Coastal Protection Act, which the Minister said no longer achieves the desired integrated and balanced approach to coastal management. [National Seachange Taskforce, 20 November 2014]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ray Hunt for Mayor!