The Community Environment Network has taken issue with Wyong Council and their recent press release on the appointment of a new Director of Property and Economic Development, Mr Mike Dowling, formerly of the property group Terrace Towers.
The Director has responsibility for selling, leasing or developing Council land. This includes over 1,000 parcels of Council land reclassified from Community Land to Operational Land since the current voting block took control of Wyong Council in 2012. Included were many hundreds of hectares of land containing wetlands, wildlife corridors, foreshores and public open space. Once the land is reclassified, Council is able to sell without any further reference to the public.
In addition, Council recently purchased land from Terrace Towers for $17 million at North Wyong. Some of this land contains threatened species and soils that assist water quality in the Tuggerah Lakes. Since the 1990s the land has been a bone of contention with Council and environmentalists over clearing and grazing by goats.
Chairman of CEN, Mr John Asquith said: “This appointment by Council is unwise and brings into question Councils’ judgment and is likely to impact the reputation of Council. Council is required to act in the interests of ratepayers and to protect their assets and environment. This Council has lost the plot and created an atmosphere of uncertainty, outrage and alarm at the management of the Shire. There is no evidence that Sustainability is even on Councils’ radar.”
Councils are elected by ratepayers to represent them and to follow the Charter of Local Government. Since the new Council was elected in 2012, there has been a gouging of Council assets and resources to suit the development industry. This has been at the expense of ratepayers, the environment and local employment. In addition, Council has recently released a manifesto for the NSW Elections “Transformation of the Central Coast – 39 Projects”. Recent advertisements on this by Council are inappropriate and a misuse of ratepayers funds in an election campaign.
Mr Asquith went on to say: “Council should be implementing a plan which gives confidence and sustainability to the Shire, not parading a never ending stream of pet projects and hidden agendas. Transformation of the Central Coast – 39 Projects is unrealistic and most projects are a waste of money.
ICAC stopped developer donations and now we have a developer controlled Council running advertisements that benefit the development industry. The NSW Government needs to step in to Wyong and ensure better governance to protect ratepayers from crippling debt. The first step should be coming under the NSW Auditor General for financial and performance auditing.”