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Resident battles Lismore council

Marge Graham is frustrated by the lack of help she has received from Lismore City Council to fix a flooding problem at her Casino Street home in South Lismore.
Marge Graham is frustrated by the lack of help she has received from Lismore City Council to fix a flooding problem at her Casino Street home in South Lismore. Cathy Adams

MARGE GRAHAM knows about flooding.

Her South Lismore yard has gone under more than 30cms of water 19 times since the Lismore City Council did roadworks in front of her Casino Street home in 2003.

“The water just builds up in the drain out the front and spills into my yard and garage,” she said.

“It wasn’t too bad in the beginning, but since all the silt has built up in the drain the water comes down from the culvert up the road and can’t get away. In May last year there was almost two feet of water under my house.”

After refusing to pay her rates and talking with every mayor from Merv King to Jenny Dowell, who despite promises failed to fix the problem, Ms Graham decided to take the council to court.

However, as it was due to proceed this week her lawyer advised her that the council was claiming ‘immunity’, which basically meant because the council thought it was doing the right thing, it could not be held liable.

“It was so frustrating,” the well-known country singer said yesterday with an eye on the threatening storm clouds.

“I have also spoken to the insurance company (about flood damage to the house), but they said they can’t do anything until the drain is fixed.”

An engineer’s report found it would cost $8000 to fix the problem, which only affects Ms Graham’s house.

However, Ms Graham said she had been told by council it had already spent its flood mitigation budget for this year and did not have any funds left for individual residences.

“I’m caught in the middle and can’t do anything about it,” she said.

The list of damaged goods is extensive: a $1300 guitar, speaker boxes, furniture, CDs, clothing and posters.

“I’m so bitter towards the council, I could just cry in frustration,” she said.

A council spokesperson said the case had been handed to its lawyers, who were unavailable for comment yesterday.

The terms of the settlement to this week’s case were not disclosed, but The Northern Star understands that the council has paid Ms Graham’s legal costs.



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