Surprise, surprise

Ed, So many great letters in last week’s Independent (CVI 9/9/15) from all over the Clarence Valley, all in unison relating to this Council’s mismanagement and inability to represent its community’s wishes and best future interests. Shirley Schofield’s letter was a corker, every paragraph striking an exact accord, timeline and observation of the council’s bungling since forced amalgamation took place 10 years ago. We on the Lower River have been beating our gums in absolute frustration for years over the blunders that Council has made for us with its disastrous decision making. No wonder Ron Bell as Chair was instructed to lay down the ground rule at the recent ‘Roads to Recovery’ rates hike meeting in Maclean that “no discussion on the amalgamation would be permitted”. The current council simply does not wish to be reminded that Maclean Shire Council always ran in the black until it was taken over upriver, and it has been in the red ever since. The then Minister Tony Kelly who forcibly, unnecessarily and stupidly amalgamated us told us at the time that the “new council would save $1.3m in its first year of operation”, however surprise, surprise, at the end of twelve months it was in the red first up and it has never looked back! So is it any wonder that the CVC heavies wanted any “amalgamation talk” suppressed at the Maclean rates hike public meeting? Shirley you are spot on when you say that Maclean could have been developed into a ‘beautiful old world village’ if it is done right, but Council is right now putting paid to that as it has neither the interest nor the capacity to put proper control planning into place to correctly guide the Town’s future development. The ridiculous supermarket location smack bang in our much needed car park, wholly promoted and oiled by Council, is the prime example of erosion of the CBD’s potential for having a planned future through misguided and short-sighted decision making. Will the Council listen to its people, especially on the Lower River? Well we all know the answer to that. What a crying shame as with proper planning and foresight Maclean could have been moulded into a strong, vibrant, attractive and competitive destination to rival other well-known high profile and successful ‘boutique’ towns. And now McLachlan Park, with nearly a third of the voted funding already being spent on consultants, and not a spade turned. If Council had actually listened to the community and engaged the services of a local landscape architect and its own Parks & Gardens staff it could have had so much more money available with a park the people wanted – and maybe we could have had the prime key ingredient, the river boardwalk, just like other towns seem to get. But no, we get yet another consultant, whose plans will not be presented for public comment, our magnificent trees gone, and no boardwalk. But we do get flood gates, viewing ‘platforms’, and a couple of rice paddies. Warren Rackham, Maclean