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The foxes are in charge of the hen house

The Editor Now we are getting to the bottom of it and learning that our councillors have no idea at all of what is going n. First there was the announcement to a public meeting by council's chief planner that if they didn't let the RMS use the Batemans Bay Bowling club site as a construction depot for the Batemans Bay and Nelligen bridge project the RMS would have acquired it anyway. Funny thing is that that comment came out of no-where - or did it ? This council is in a panic. They bought the old bowling club site for $2.7m and paid $1.2m too much for it. They said it was strategic but at the same time the staff member is telling attendees at last weeks Batemans Bay Chamber meeting that the RMS could just take the site the general manger was telling councillors that they would most likely sell the land. Then we learn that there is a group who showed an interest in paying $2.7m for the site and turning it into a bowling alley, markets, community centre and arts precinct. The group put forward a viable idea that fitted exactly with the zoning and would retain young people in Batemans Bay and provide entertainment, training and skills development to contribute to the wellbeing of young people. The lack of options and services for this demographic in Eurobodalla Shire is well recognised and documented. Here was a group offering to get Council out of the mire. They were the only group to come forward with an idea after Council sought Expressions of Interest. Turns out though that unless the land is bought by a developer who will build ONLY what Council wants then they are not going to listen to anyone. Unable to lie straight in bed the Council have not been able to explain why they bought the site other than to crow on about it being strategic. They couldn't come clean on how much they are paying in interest on the $2m loan they took out to buy the site and they shat in their trousers when they bought the site encouraging the community to come forward with ideas only to ignore them all and let the building rot. So they must be pleased the RMS wants the site and might actually rent it to cover some of the interest they are paying on the loan. But the RMS are smart and they could say the rent is too high and acquire the site anyway or do a swap for the land on Beach Road at Albert Ryan Park. Why? Because Council wants to get rid of those toilets and develop the site into highrise. Ann Sudmalis has already committed Federal money to improving Beach Road and the Ramada Inn is about to spend $28m just down the road at Number 236. What of the offer to buy the Bowling Club site? Apparently they were knocked on the head but weren't told that their expression of interest was knocked bay by letter or a phone call. No, they heard it via the grapevine and from the newspaper. It is now understood that the RMS was originally interested in Mackay Park as their "works depot" and following a few phone calls they switched play to the Bowling Club site. Ask yourself if they would have acquired the Bowling Club site if anyone but Council owned it. What about our Councillors? Do they know what's going on? NO. No idea at all. The staff don't tell them anything and the only way they can keep up to date is by reading the Beagle newspaper. There is a little gang in Council and they are trickle feeding councillors on a needs-to-know basis. Councillors ask a question and receive a reply to a totally different question. If only Councillors knew half of what was going on. So where does that leave the rest of us? We know that Council needs more money for a start. We know they can't put up the rates because they already did by 21%. Water is now a significant income stream. So watch what they do with water and sewer fees because they can put those up without IPART permission to top up their slush fund. The long promised Southern Water Storage Dam Council is planning to construct on the Tuross River is getting closer. Usually the State Government assists with those sorts of infrastructure projects using a financial formula. In the present planning it seems Council is allowing for 25% Government assistance, leaving the shire's rate payers and residents to find the remaining 75% which may mean significant water pricing increases. If they are serious about this the coming budget will have to make some provisions for the project. Yesterday we saw the "Rubber Stamps" agree to put up the General Manager's recommendation in their submission to the OLG Code of Meeting Practice. What did she want? Total control to do whatever she wanted under a "Mayoral Minute" that requires no listing in an agenda, can be totally confidential and can be dropped on Councilors at a whim with no warning at all. Why ?... watch this space. Name and address supplied


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