Councillor under pressure
PRESSURE is mounting for Ballina Shire councillor Peter Moore todeclare an interest when the council next votes on a controversial change of use application for the Ramada Hotel in Ballina.
The vote was expected to take place at this week’s council meeting, but is now expected to happen in February or March.
If approved, the application would allow 94 of the Ramada’s 115 units to be used for permanent residency.
At least two formal complaints have been made in relation to Cr Moore’s participation at the Dec-ember meeting, when he voted in favour of deferring the Ramadadecision pending the receipt of more information.
One of the complaints, relating to alleged pecuniary interests, has since been dismissed by the Department of Local Government.
The complaints were madebecause, since 2004, Cr Moore has declared a non-pecuniary interest in more than 30 matters involving Lennox Head developer Chris Condon based on a ‘close personal friendship’.
These include decisions on Ballina Central, the Angels Beach subdivision, and the proposed new service centre for the Ballina bypass.
Mr Condon is also a director and current chairman of Slipway Properties, which is the developer of the Ramada.
Cr Moore last declared a non-pecuniary interest relating to Mr Condon in July last year, during a confidential session of the council meeting.
Cr Moore said he had a ‘close personal friend’ involved in some of the legal matters and left the chambers while the issues were discussed, but returned for the vote.
The Ballina Environment Society’s complaint, which has been obtained by The Northern Star, says Cr Moore ‘breached both the spirit and the letter of Council’s Code of Conduct’ by voting on the Ramada change of use application last month.
The complaint also criticises the council in general for failing tofollow ‘due and proper process’.
The first official complaint against Cr Moore was made by owner of The Point restaurant, John Cordina.
He said Cr Moore had failed todeclare both pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests on the Ramada issue.
Cr Moore said he was ‘still deciding’ whether he would vote next time.
“I am getting further advice,” he said.
“When the time comes I’ll make whatever declarations I believe are appropriate.
“The matter has received a lot of consideration from me.
“It was not a decision made lightly last time, and it won’t be made lightly again this time.
“I voted last time because I felt I had a responsibility to do so.
“It’s not just about managing what is the truth, but the community’s perceptions.
“But I know and believe that my own integrity is very much intact.”
The council’s general manager, Paul Hickey, confirmed he hadreceived both the BES and Mr Cordina’s complaints.
The alleged non-pecuniary interest breaches are still being reviewed by an independent panel, Mr Hickey said.