All for Casino,says activist
By WILL JACKSON
CASINO activist Pam Brayley has rejected criticism accusing her of holding back the town.
Ms Brayley said she was merely voicing community concern at the way in which the Richmond Valley Council was setting charges and spending money.
Ms Brayley, the president of the Casino Ratepayers and Residents Association, said Richmond Valley mayor Charlie Cox had labelled her a troublemaker ? a claim he has denied ? and accused her of stirring up dissent against the council.
She said council had its priorities wrong and the people of Casino were angry.
"By calling me and my association troublemakers, Charlie Cox is effectively calling the people in this town who don't agree with him troublemakers," she said.
"I am not the only one involved in this committee. There are four of us who started the association and we're just providing a channel for people's voices because for a long time they seem to have been talking to deaf ears."
A plan by the council to enhance the Casino CBD has become another front in the association's campaign.
Submissions on the plan closed yesterday with more than 270 residents putting forward an opinion.
The council is now reviewing the submissions.
Ms Brayley said Casino residents want their money spent on fixing the town's roads rather than 'tarting up the town'.
The association surveyed 88 CBD businesses on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"We've passed on the thoughts and comments of the shopkeepers to council and they pretty much concur with what people at the recent public meeting said.
"We do need to attract more businesses to the town but I'm not sure making the town in this 'art deco' fashion will do it."
Cr Cox said there was no reason to be concerned about the plan.
"It's not a big deal," he said. "We want to maintain the rural town atmosphere and the art deco style is already there in most of the buildings."
He said the changes would enhance the town's characteristics.
"This project is part of a much bigger picture to promote economic growth in the area."
Ms Brayley, who moved to Casino from Blayney in November, said she initiated the association because she was angry about the manner in which the council raised its sewerage and water rates earlier this year.
She said if the council had been more open about why it had to raise the rates, she probably would not have become involved.
The council should have told people in the first place that the NSW Government had set a minimum level for the sewerage rates, she said.
"The council has brought it on themselves. If they'd been open about what happened people would have blamed the NSW Government, not the council."
Ms Brayley said that since becoming president of the association, the position has become a full-time role.
"I came here to retire. I had no thought of working my butt off every day."