Councillor reignites calls for permanent fireys in Ballina
CALLS for permanent fire-fighters in Ballina reignited this week after the puzzling delivery of a four-month-old letter from the Minister of Emergency Services to Ballina Shire Council.
A letter from Minister Troy Grant's office, dated May 31, and emailed to Ballina Mayor David Wright, was only received at council on Wednesday.
Councillor Nathan Willis, who is leading the charge for permanent firies, remains baffled at the late arrival of the document.
The council told Cr Willis that its records showed staff never received the correspondence earlier in the year.
Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW Ben Franklin confirmed the letter was sent and received by Cr Wright but suspected the council "must have overlooked it" at the time.
In the letter, Mr Grant said that Ballina's retained firies had "the capacity to manage emergency calls, prevention and preparation activities for the Ballina area".
That response was not adequate for Cr Willis, who would put forward a notice of motion at next week's council meeting "to call on the NSW Government to provide permanent full-time fire-fighters in addition to the retained fire-fighters in recognition of the growth in our shire".
The motion also called for a meeting with the minister at the Local Government NSW annual conference in December to advocate for permanent fire-fighters.
Cr Willis' motion comes after a public Facebook post that criticised Mr Franklin's support for the proposed INXS museum in contrast to what he cited as a need for permanent fire-fighters at Ballina fire station.
Mr Franklin described the comments as "baseless" given government funding pools were dedicated to different sectors. He said that a localised assessment of the station's need for permanent fire-fighters was in progress but was unaware of how the review had progressed.
Cr Willis has since backflipped on his October 14 Facebook status and said the receipt of the letter had made his post irrelevant given the pair met with council staff in July about the issue.
Similarly to Cr Willis, Mr Franklin said he was also confused by the late arrival of Mr Grant's response and said he would enquire into the delay.