Fight for Airlie formalises group
At a meeting on Wednesday 7 October it was decided there was enormous community support and enough issues of concern for the Fight for Airlie supporters to form an organised group.
It is two weeks since the Whitsunday Regional Council held its first public meeting on the new planning scheme and the group has already received over 500 signatures on a petition on change.org as well as over 500 signatures on paper petitions. A rally was organised a week after the public meeting and between 250 and 300 people, based on police estimates, marched through Airlie Beach last Saturday protesting at the planned height changes in the planning scheme.
The Fight for Airlie group is opposed to height changes to buildings in the planned scheme including increases in Airlie Beach to 4, 8 and 12 storeys. They are also concerned that Council has failed to inform the community about these proposed changes in a timely manner and Councillors have not had sufficient community engagement to be able to make a value decision when voting on the planning scheme.
Local rate-payer Roger Down says, “The public meeting on 24 September was a presentation by Council rather than “engagement” and at no time have Council asked the majority of rate-payers and residents for their feedback. We were originally given one week to make submissions on a document the Council has been working on for two years. We need to prevent this from being rushed into Council approving a plan that has not been put before the whole community in a genuine manner.”
Other issues which are concerning to the group is the sale of land in Waterson Way in 2014 as the group believe the Council obviously knew about the proposed height changes and the Council land would have been of more value if sold after the introduction of the planning scheme rather than before. It appears there are also questions to be asked about the terms of the contract on the sale of the land.
The Whitsunday Regional Council has changed the way they inform the community of what is being discussed in Council Meetings to the detriment of the community. Previously full details of all agenda items were available for all to see on the Council website whereas now they are only a listing on the Council website with full disclosure of agenda items only posted on the website when the meeting starts at 9:00am on the day of the Council meeting. Likewise, where public questions were answered on the day when possible, now all questions are taken on notice and are only answered at the following meeting. The Fight for Airlie group questions the transparency of this new management style.
The Fight for Airlie group demand that the public is given the proper respect of comprehensive community engagement and provided with clear and accurate information in a timely manner. The group and individuals will be making submissions to the CEO of the Whitsunday Regional Council regarding the new planning scheme by the deadline of 16 October. For more information on these issues go to www.fightforairlie.com or the Facebook page www.facebook.com/fightforairlie.