Good morning. Thank you for the opportunity to address Council this morning regarding two items on today’s agenda, these being :
GMR21/053 – Application for a public gate permit on Coopers Island Road;
PSR21/049 – Land & Road Reserve Classification – Clarke Street Broulee
I am presenting as Co-Convenor of A Better Eurobodalla (ABE), a community forum dedicated to having open and inclusive government in our region. ABE expects that before governments, at any level, make decisions that will impact their communities, they will undertake broad and meaningful consultation, listen to and share expert advice, and proceed using a transparent decision-making process so that the community understands who makes decisions, when and why.
ABE has applied these principles to both Coopers Island Road and Clarke Street Broulee in our previous presentations to Council, as each have significant implications for the effective management of public assets and implementation of good governance in the Eurobodalla.
I will now outline ABE’s recommendations for each of these agenda items.
Public Gate on Cooper’s Island Road (GMR21/051)
ABE notes that this issue has been unnecessarily complicated by Council’s tardiness in addressing it, which dates back to mid-2019.
ABE’s previous presentations to Council focussed on public safety and good governance aspects of this case, and these considerations should remain paramount in Council’s deliberations today. Of the 2 options presented to Councillors in the agenda papers, ABE recommends that Option 1 should be chosen, i.e. refuse the gate permit application and direct the adjoining owner to fence the road reserve, with $5,000 of financial support from Council. ABE considers that without fencing along the road reserve, the possibility of stock interactions with public road users cannot be avoided, raising significant public safety and liability concerns.
If Council chooses to go with Option 2 and approve the gate permit, ABE recommends that this approval be conditioned by requiring the adjoining owner to properly fence the boundary of the road reserve for the reasons already discussed. This could be accomplished by including this requirement in the conditions of approval for the gate permit, which need to be backed up by rigorous compliance and enforcement measures.
Council should make sure that any decision made today is fully compliant with requirements of the NSW Roads Act, and ensures that the adjoining landowner complies with the requirements for control of stock under relevant NSW legislation. This decision also needs to demonstrate that Council is properly discharging its “duty of care” obligations regarding public safety, which have significant implications for public liability and insurance considerations.
Land & Road Reserve Classification – Clarke Street Broulee (PSR21/049)
ABE welcomes the detailed chronology of the site included in the PSR21/049 agenda paper today, and considers that this compilation provides a good starting point from which to make a sound decision based on publicly available information.
ABE notes the original decision of Councillors in 2003 to classify this parcel of land as community land has never been rescinded, and so should now be finally implemented, bringing this 18 year oversight to a satisfactory conclusion. ABE also notes that Council’s Director of Planning issued a press statement on the 29th June indicating that this block was Community Land, and that Council has recently received a substantial petition from the Broulee community urging that this parcel of land be classified as community land. This is included in today’s agenda papers under PET21/003.
After reviewing this information, ABE recommends that Councillors adopt Option 2, to close the road reserve and classify the lot and road reserve as community land. ABE considers that this would provide the greatest public benefit going forward, and create a significant community asset which could facilitate multiple uses for a variety of community sectors, including Landcare, tourism, Aboriginal and European heritage and public education. It would provide an ideal opportunity for Council to work constructively and in good faith with the Broulee community to achieve a fair outcome which maintains this important piece of community land for future use and enjoyment by everyone.
The decisions regarding Coopers Island Road and Clarke Street Broulee provide opportunities for elected Councillors to prove their commitment to both the community and good public administration via retention and effective management of these precious public assets. ABE therefore urges Councillors to make community well being, public safety and good governance the basis of their deliberations today.
Thank you for your attention.
A Better Eurobodalla