Ever since the State Government forced four Councils of the Clarence Valley to amalgamate over a decade ago, there have been continuous cries of inequity in the distribution of rates and services. But none louder than the “Us” and “Them” mentality of a “Grafton Centric” council.
Justification of these claims cannot be better demonstrated than the “Grafton Pool Master Plan Concept Design” currently on exhibition that will probably come at the expense of the Ulmarra and South Grafton pools while Iluka’s remains forgotten.
Council’s administration describes its proposal as “the primary regional aquatic facility for the valley” and estimated to cost $2m to $11m. It comes at a time when Council has accumulated $130m in debt, a rate increase of 6.5% and described by IPART as not being financially “Fit for the Future”.
Council’s Charter requires it to provide “adequate, equitable and appropriate services and facilities for the community”. That community is the whole of the 10,440km2 of the Clarence valley, not just Grafton. Yet this “Grafton Centric” Council continually ignores the tyranny of distance which prevents many communities from using these mega “regional” facilities and really don’t need them anyway, but nevertheless are required to pay for them.
Examples are the Grafton Regional Airport, Regional Art Galley, Grafton Regional Library, Grafton Regional Children’s Playground, Grafton Regional Sales Yard, all of which Grafton enjoys the direct benefit but prefers to offload their cost burden down river.
If Grafton wants these facilities, then it should implement a user pays system similar to Iluka, Yamba and Brooms Head. They have sacrificed their valuable foreshore lands with caravan parks that generate income into a Trust (Clarence Coast Reserves Trust) to assist in the costs of providing regional beaches to the local and tourist communities.
This forced amalgamation has existed for 12 years and it is obvious the 10,440km2 of diverse economies and communities of interests that demand contrasting services and facilities, cannot be managed efficiently at local government level. This can be contributed to the haste in which the government at the time forced four rural, urban and Coastal Councils to amalgamate without giving proper consideration to the necessary requirements that are set out in Sect 263LGA.
It’s about time our local state representative Chris Gulaptis MP, made representations to the Minister for boundary changes.
Ray Hunt, Yamba