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Council warns of ‘disturbing’ claims by petitioners

Clarence Valley Council (CVC) has issued a media statement warning the valley’s residents, “particularly those in the South Grafton area; … to be cautious about information they might get from petitioners operating in the area”.
The general manager, Scott Greensill, said residents had contacted the council’s customer service centres saying they had been approached to sign a petition opposing the possible development of a new works depot in Tyson Street, South Grafton.
While Mr Greensill has not named who or what group may have conducted a petition campaign in the area, the Independent believes he is referring to Facebook group, The Clarence Forum, or one its members.
The group’s convenor, John Hagger, has subsequently stated on the group’s Facebook page: “The Forum has never had a Petition about the Depot though now that Greensill and Williamson have mentioned it, that may be a future option.”
Mr Greensill said the council had no issue with people expressing their opinions about developments or council activities, but encouraged those approached to seek more information about any proposals before signing petitions.
“Some of the reports we have had are disturbing,” he said.
“One resident told us the petitioner refused to give his name and made a number of false claims about the possible depot development.
“She said he told her the council was going to dump asbestos waste near the South Grafton High School and that children were going to die from it. That is a completely irresponsible claim.
“She also said there would be lights flashing all night, there would be machinery going at all hours and her property value would drop.
“She refused to sign his petition.
“People have a democratic right to voice their opinions about council and its operations, but they need to do that based on factual information – not on the basis of something someone who refuses to identify himself has told them.
“If any residents or ratepayers want any factual information about this or any other proposal they should contact our customer service team.”
Mr Hagger was puzzled by the ‘factual information’ statement in the above quote, writing on the forum: “I along with many other People and the Locally Owned Newspaper, the Independent, have contacted Council wanting factual information with regard to the Depot proposal and Our requests have not been answered.”
The Independent published two stories in the January 20 edition, regarding asbestos contamination at the site of the council’s proposed Tyson Street works depot; however, the paper’s questions were not directly answered.
At the time, general manager Greensill described The Clarence Forum’s allegations, that the asbestos was a danger to the public, as “irresponsible scaremongering”.
Mr Greensill stated: “All necessary actions in regards to possible asbestos at the proposed new depot site in Grafton are being managed in the appropriate and responsible manner.
“During the course of the redevelopment project Council is legally obliged to appropriately deal with any waste related matters, including asbestos, and these are encompassed in a site remediation action plan.
“Council has been in discussion with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and SafeWork NSW who are both in concurrence with council’s current management and proposed actions.”
Read these stories, Agencies: Tyson Street asbestos ‘under control’ and Clarence Valley Council’s response to asbestos allegations at www.cvindependent.com.au.

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