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Clarence Valley Council rejected an RMS request to “relinquish control” of Yamba Bay Park “back to Crown Lands, to secure tenure over the site for the construction of an operations centre”. Image: Geoff Helisma

Council blocks RMS’s plan for Yamba Bay Park

Clarence Valley Council rejected an RMS request to “relinquish control” of Yamba Bay Park “back to Crown Lands, to secure tenure over the site for the construction of an operations centre”. Image: Geoff Helisma

Clarence Valley’s councillors have voted against a proposal by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to locate ‘a joint operations taskforce centre’ at Yamba Bay Park (adjacent to the Golding Street roundabout).
The RMS had written to Clarence Valley Council (the Clarence Coast Trust Reserve manager), requesting it approve “in principle to relinquish control of the site back to Crown Lands to secure tenure over the site for the construction of an operations centre for the on-water compliance agencies” – RMS Maritime, DPI Fisheries and Water Police.
At the Corporate, Governance & Works Committee’s meeting (prior to the full council meeting), Councillors Toms, Simmons, Lysaught and Kingsley had supported the request (Cr Novak was opposed).
The committee’s recommendation also called for negotiations “with Crown Lands, NTSCorp, on behalf of the traditional owners, and Property NSW for a land swap with 18a River Street, Maclean”.
A DPI NSW Fisheries building is currently sited at 18a River Street (at the end of McDonald Lane).
The council has been in long-term negotiations to remove the building, so as to open the town up to the river and meet the aspirations of the Maclean Riverside Precinct Plan.
At the council meeting, Cr Andrew Baker proposed an amended motion that included making “representation to local Member of NSW Parliament Chris Gulaptis and other politicians as appropriate” to support the swap “as compensatory consideration for the support of” giving control of the Yamba site to Crown Lands.
However, Cr Baker’s motion lapsed, as no one would second the motion, and, as a result, the officer’s recommendation to not support the idea was adopted by seven of the eight councillors at the meeting – Cr Lysaught was absent.
During debate, Cr Richie Williamson, who moved the officer’s recommendation, said he had “tried in my head to fit a square peg into a round hole”.
“But I can’t make it a good outcome”, he said, acknowledging that there “was some support for the proposal here in Maclean” – the Maclean Chamber of Commerce made a deputation in support of the land swap at the previous week’s committee meeting.
Cr Baker said the RMS’s request was a “courtesy” because it’s Crown Land and is under ministerial control, regardless of CVC’s decision.
He described the emails councillors have received as being from “well-meaning people” who had drawn their conclusions from an “erroneous report” tabled at the committee and council meetings.
Councillor Toms, who supported the idea at the committee meeting, said she had “changed her view” after spending some time at the park.
She pointed out that it was “one of the only parks heavily treed and shaded” on the riverbank and that it was subject to native title and an incomplete Aboriginal land claim.
“It’s not ours to swap,” she said, “it’s the traditional owner’s; I’m quite annoyed we don’t talk to them first.
“The community in Yamba is dead against it.”
Councillors Ellem, Novak and Clancy expressed similar views.
Mayor Jim Simmons said he “would have been prepared to vote” for the mooted swap deal, however, “we have to admit there is a lot of opposition to it”.
What now from the RMS’s perspective?
The RMS advised the Independent through its media unit, that “it respects the decision and will work with Clarence Valley Council and Crown Lands to identify a suitable location for a joint operations taskforce centre”.
“A proposed new facility would cater for approximately eight staff members and allow operational space for visiting Marine Area Command officers and other on-water compliance staff,” the emailed response stated.
“These officers currently operate on the Clarence River and are located in Maclean and Yamba.”

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