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Artist impression of the Cliff Top Walk at Winney Bay. Artist impression of the Cliff Top Walk at Winney Bay. Featured
01 December 2019 Posted by 

WHINNEY BAY FALLOUT CONTINUES

Council relinquishes $4.6M in Govt funding
THE fallout continues from Central Coast Council’s decision to relinquish $4.6M in State Government funding and push on with the exploration of further options for a proposed Cliff Top Walk at Winney Bay.

Member for Terrigal Adam Crouch said the Council was “in chaos” after its final decision, which followed months of debate and extensive community consultation.
 
But Council remains firm that its decision was the right one, despite an obvious division of opinion among councillors and a failed motion from some councillors to seek a crisis meeting with Mr Crouch to smooth the waters.
 
The original draft proposal, put on exhibition before the current Council was elected and while the newly amalgamated Central Coast Council was still in administration, attracted an offer of $4.6M in government funding, but community opinion was divided.
 
The project received the stamp of approval from NSW Business Chamber Central Coast, the 5 Lands Walk Committee, the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council and Regional Development Australia Central Coast.
 
But various community groups, including the Copacabana Progress Association, which lodged a petition with 600 signatures opposing the plan, were concerned about various aspects of the design, including environmental, social, lifestyle and infrastructure impacts.
 
The issue was debated at several Council meeting throughout this year, with various motions to revisit the original design and capitalise on the government funding ultimately rejected.
 
Council in chaos
 
After months of deliberation, Council was given a September 18 deadline by Infrastructure NSW to proceed with the original proposal or forfeit the funding.
 
Council decided to push ahead with more community consultation and design options, prompting Mr Crouch’s assertion that it was “in chaos”.
 
Mayor Lisa Matthews has defended the decision, saying Council understood that the proposal wasn’t a concept the community in its entirety had wanted.
 
“So how could we ignore some of the community?” she said. “What we wanted was to go back to the community and that is what we did.
 
“It is unfortunate that the bureaucrats decided that that is not what they see as fit right now. But we’re confident we can deliver something in the Winney Bay area.”
 
But Mr Crouch was damning in his criticism, saying council had managed to “bumble and fumble” a simple process to the tune of $4.6M.
 
“This is the first time any council in NSW has handed back this type of funding,” he said, blaming a Labor-Independent alliance of councillors for the “failure”.
 
Liberal Councillors Jilly Pilon, Troy Marquart, Chris Burke and Rebecca Gale Collins said they were “frustrated and disappointed” with the decision not to proceed with the project, despite concessions offered by Infrastructure NSW in relation to changes to the surface and width of the track  and removal of the market stalls.
 
5 Lands Walk president Con Ryan was also unhappy with the decision, saying the decision was “both mystifying and disappointing” and presented a negative impact on the Central Coast economy, jobs and reputation.
 
The “real” purpose
 
Following the decision, Councillor Greg Best put a motion on September 25 that councillors seek a meeting with Mr Crouch to “re-establish a congenial working relationship”, but it was lost, despite backing from Councillor Bruce McLachlan, who said it was important to have a good relationship with the Coast’s only Liberal MP.
 
Councillor Kyle MacGregor said the real purpose behind Mr Crouch’s criticism was “to get a headline” and it had done that.
 
“The real purpose is to be inflammatory,” he said. “We won’t be bullied.”
 
Councillor Chris Holstein called the motion a “classic” and put an amendment that the Mayor and CEO meet with Crouch regarding his media release on September 9, in which the inflammatory remarks were made.
 
“The press release did say there is a state of chaos and we need to have conversation about that,” he said.
 
The amendment was lost 8-6, with Mayor, Lisa Matthews, saying it was her intention to invite all the local MPs for a meeting for a fruitful discussion in the early days of her term.
 
The original motion from Clr Best was also lost.
 
Cr Matthew later said that Mr Crouch was just one of four State MPs on the Coast and lines of communication needed to be maintained with all of them.


editor

Michael Walls
Publisher
P: 0407 783 413
E: Michael@accessnews.com.au

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