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Mayor responds to Mogo criticism and receives a further dressing down

Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes says recent criticism on social media claiming Mogo’s bushfire recovery was taking too long is understandable.

Clr Innes was responding to claims by a Mogo business owner blaming Council for delays in rebuilding, lack of accessible toilet, a missing barbecue, and the overgrown creek. The The Mogo Lolly Shop posted on their social media page: Shame shame shame on the Eurobodalla Council! It’s been almost 14 months now since the Black Summer Bushfires. I watch and I wait for the buildings across from my store to begin rebuilding but I consistently hear of the struggles these folks are having with the ESC. Pictured below is our once beautiful Mogo Creek which now is full of weeds and burned plants, the weeds are invading and choking the creek.

Where is our missing community BBQ facility that the council removed and promised to return? Where’s the central toilet block in John Street Reserve that was approved in December 2019 which would give access to the elderly and disabled. Yeah yeah you resurfaced Annette Street and put in a footpath that we have needed for many years, but what about resurfacing our footpaths that have become trip hazards to the disabled and elderly who visit our Main Street! What about our non existent town sign that should welcome people to our village on the Moruya side of our village that was taken by the bushfire? Our once beautiful village has seen no progress! The empty blocks across the road with their orange or chicken mesh fences a constant reminder of my missing neighbours. Their once beautiful front gardens and well kept lawns behind their stores was something to be proud of! The battle the ESC creates for the landowners to begin rebuilding. Our village had never been busier than what it is right now. I am completely disillusioned by our council and disappointed that they are making our road to recovery such a battle. Get your shit together Eurobodalla Council! I have sat back and shut up and kept my opinions to myself for 14 months and now I am publicly saying you should be bloody ashamed of yourselves as our council. Where’s our progress? Where’s our towns recovery? In a media release issued on Friday 19th Feb 2021 the Mayor said while she understood the frustrations, "Mogo had in fact received significant assistance from Council."

“When it comes to private land, decisions on maintenance and whether to rebuild are the choice of property owners,” Clr Innes said.

“We know some people are either not ready to rebuild yet, while others were under-insured. That doesn’t mean Council is putting up obstacles. Quite the opposite – we’ve done a lot to make things as easy as we can, providing free BAL certificates, successfully lobbying the NSW Government to remove offsets for vegetation clearing, and enabling owners to set up temporary dwellings.”

Clr Innes said Council had also put a lot of resource into fast-tracking Development Applications (DAs) when they are lodged.

“From the 246 DAs bushfire rebuilds submitted we’ve approved 205, with an average processing time of 36 days – more than ten families have moved back into rebuilt homes,” she said.

“We’ve also worked with Mogo businesses and organisations to assist the village recovery overall, helping set up the temporary mall – provided rent-free by Biz Rebuild – to enable business to continue trading while they rebuild.

“Many fire affected businesses chose to work with the specialist planning consultants we engaged, resulting in changes to our building codes for car parking and building set-backs and making development applications simpler. This culminated in a workshop for businesses to support them in preparing DAs.

“As far as we’re aware, these businesses are very happy with the help they’ve received from us,” adding that "the fires had provided an opportunity for Council to reassess Mogo’s infrastructure."

“The village deserves well-planned facilities for residents and visitors,” she said. “To that end, we’re spending bushfire recovery funding on town planning, collaborating with Mogo’s community to find the best results for the whole village, including infrastructure like toilets, parks, parking, picnic tables and barbecues,” she said.

“The Mogo Village Place Activation Plan will be finished in the next six months, and having a comprehensive and strategic approach means Council can attract funding for things like an accessible public toilet in a well-sited location.”

The Mayor's media release said that Council’s tourism marketing and public relations had also been focussed on Mogo in 2020.

“That’s really paid off, with Spendmap data showing $22 million was spent at Mogo businesses between January and December,” Clr Innes said.

“That’s a $2 million increase on 2019, with 62 per cent of that spent by visitors to our region. A family fun day in April and bike event in May should help boost numbers in 2021.”

In her media release in response to the social media post by the The Mogo Lolly Shop she said "infrastructure and beautification of the village continued, with significant work at Annetts Street and new footpaths, and some maintenance due on other footpaths in the coming months".

“We’ve been helping landholders with the creek. Although it’s on private land, we’re assisting with weed management this week and have offered funding for creek rehabilitation,” she said.

“Beautiful new town signs, developed in consultation with the community, are on the way. We’ve taken the time to get them right, with Aboriginal art and language included, and they’re going to look wonderful once installed,” adding "there was, of course, still much to be done".