Broulee community not backing down to Council's ineptitude and failure to provide evidence
With Eurobodalla Council on the backfoot and looking to find a way out of the embarrassment they have caused themselves over the Broulee community land blunder another wave of community backlash is now coming to them from several quarters as Council struggle to stand by their intent to sell the community land claiming it to be classified as Operational. The first hurdle that Council must overcome is to explain to the community how the land was clearly identified as Community Land in 1997 and again in 2001 and then "came to be" Operational in 2003. Council MUST provide evidence that such a reclassification went before a Council meeting, was approved for public submissions, and then via a report voted to be reclassified. To date all the Broulee community has heard is that Council's computer records were in error. With this statement Council appear to be of the opinion that the Operational classification is a default. But now they are being requested, under a GIPA application, to show evidence. The second hurdle Council now faces is the widespread backlash of the community who have developed a distinct distrust of anything any one in Council says. Meetings between community members and Council staff are not recorded and when discussions are referred to by the community the Council denies any such dialogue. The distrust has been further inflamed by the show of disdain by some councillors who have decided that they don't attend Public Access and Public Forum sessions to listen to presentations by the Broulee community and others on the issue. It is understood that in briefings before these sessions the term "liars" has been used in reference to speakers. There is no doubt that the level of toxicity that is building between the Broulee community and Council needs redress. In this case though the confrontation is between staff and the community with the majority of elected councillors doing little to show interest or empathy to the community point of view. The Broulee Mossy Point Community Association have an electronic version of their petition to save the community land at the corner of Broulee Rd & Clarke St. https://forms.gle/giRW12qkCmMsGzzaA
Above: Over one hundred people protested on Saturday, July 31 in Broulee. This COVID-safe gathering addressed the issue of covert land clearing on what is believed to be community land. This was the third community-led protest, regarding this issue. Broulee Mossy Point Community Association spokesperson, Andrew Bain, addressed the crowd. “We want Council to observe and stand by the decision from 2003. Back then, this land was assigned to the community because of strong community support. Many letters were written and a petition was submitted to Council. We need council to see that there is still strong, if not stronger, support for retaining this area as community land. We will persevere in our fight and we will prevail.” Councillor Anthony Mayne has been seeking answers as to why Lot 89, assigned as community land in 2003 and clearly marked by Landcare signs, has not been formally made Community. He said: “When will the 2003 Council Resolution be put into effect? The Council ultimately wants to sell this land, as they have already tried to do this once. And once sold it will be clear-felled because this is how Council does urban design.” “While it's only a little bit of land in Broulee, that we all love, but it is symbolic of what is really important to us, as a community that live on the South Coast, who want a place to live but also want to cherish the nature that we’ve still got, which also attracts tourist to our beautiful place. Not a place that is clear-felled and becomes a Central Coast Urban Sprawl,” Councillor Mayne said. “I am calling on the Council to recognise that a lot of people who live in Broulee care about this issue as demonstrated by the turnout to the protests. We want this little piece of land formally given back to the community. It is difficult for the community to understand why this is not a simple matter of formally adopting the 2003 motion. Here is a chance for the council to show it is listening to its ratepayers.” Another local resident, the Reverend Linda Chapman OAM spoke: “Why are we here again? It has become blatantly clear that lot 89, in the Council motion in 2003 was to become community land. It would appear as though Council are now looking at other options. But we are not going to be fobbed off. We will not stop until this land is formally adopted as a community bushland reserve.” She continued: “We have a sacred obligation to look after this earth. This might be a small patch of land but it matters.” Broulee Mossy Point Community Association (BMPCA) has started a petition calling on ECS to meet its 2003 commitment that Lot 89 (DP 1093710) is classified as community land: bushland and the commitment in the press release of 29 June 2021 that the unformed road adjacent to Lot 89 will become community Land. The petition acknowledges that this area is important to the community as: A small area of vegetation within the desert of development; the remaining fragment of what the entrance to Broulee village was like; a “green area” important for our mental wellbeing; and habitat for wildlife. At the last council meeting, on July 27th, Director of Planning, Lindsay Usher, stalled the decision process. He agreed to issue the council a report in 2-3 months. Meanwhile, the Broulee Mossy Community will continue to rally support for saving this remnant bushland.