With council elections fast approaching, some controversial local issues will play heavily on the minds of those preparing to cast their votes.
More than likely, these issues could and will include: the Bega Town Hall, Central Waste Facility, Tathra Ring Road, Eden Wind Farm, Rates and Merimbula Airport.
The Bega Valley Shire has no wards and as such, each of our elected councillors represents each and everyone of us, regardless of where you live in the Shire.
Past council performance on pertinent issues will be the gauge by which voters can judge the suitability of those re-standing for election.
All candidates need to clarify their policies on these issues and their views of our Shire's future direction.
A major question mark hanging over the council elections is the commitment of councillors to uphold integrity.
This integrity issue stems from the offer made by Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) to house the National Broadband Network (NBN) Ground satellite station on council owned land in Wanatta Lane.
Numerous stakeholder meetings were held with BVSC and its consultants as part of the EIS process for the CWF.
Concerns were raised that, at a later date council may allow more industrial type developments which would further compromise the rural amenity of the Wolumla area.
Resultant from these stakeholder meetings was an undertaking given by BVSC and its consultants that the CWF would be the only operation (apart from the grazing of stock in the buffer) which would occupy council's Wanatta Lane site.
Further to this all buildings to be constructed would be harmonious to and in keeping with the rural landscape.
These undertakings were included in the EIS which formed part of the documentation for the CWF Development Application (DA) and was approved by the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) in July 2011.
Since the commencement of road works for the CWF along Wanatta Lane, BVSC staff have contravened four particular conditions as specified in the DA.
Three of these DA conditions related to the Wanatta Lane road works and the third to the offer of CWF land to the NBN.
It has recently come to our attention councillors only became aware of BVSC's negotiations with the NBN just prior to the public announcement of the project.
Stakeholders affected by the CWF are not asking for something new or different, we are simply asking our councillors to ensure that council abides by the assurances given during stakeholder negotiations.
As for the council integrity issue, we are well aware of the views of certain staff members regarding this.
A priority, as part of the pre-election debate, would be to clarify each candidate's position on the following question.
“Will our councillors honour the undertakings given to CWF stakeholders by BVSC as incorporated into the CWF/ DA documentation by its consultants, thereby rejecting BVSC's offer of council land at Wanatta Lane to the NBN?”
A timely response from each candidate in this or a similar forum would be appreciated.
Wal Mullard, Don Bilton & Jeff Smith