CAT AMONG THE PIGEONS: Keith Williams, mayoral candidate for Ballina Shire.
CAT AMONG THE PIGEONS: Keith Williams, mayoral candidate for Ballina Shire. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Not in the flock

A DEAL-MAKING culture has infected Ballina Shire Council says mayoral candidate Keith Williams who believes it is time for a shake-up.

"I agree with the council's policy of investing in local property as a means of funding infrastructure," he said.

"That is something that makes sense to me.

"But I don't believe that good process is always being followed.

"We are talking about local government here; we shouldn't be wheeling and dealing.

"The council needs to be looking at the bigger picture, not just what is the best deal, because local government is about what's happening right in people's backyards and it is important to them."

Mr Williams cited as an example the recent decision to support a two-court indoor sports and events centre at Kingsford Smith Park.

"Instead of focusing on what the community actually needs, which is a four-court centre, councillors have opted for a deal which they think will get more bang for the buck," he said.

"However, a beautiful white elephant is still a white elephant.

"Council's decision to develop a block of industrial land near the airport for a shopping centre is another example of how the council's commercial interests have over-ridden its responsibility to provide good planning and attract business to the CBD.

"Similarly, the approval of the Cumbalum Precinct B development was promoted as the best deal, not the best plan.

"This culture of deal making is also reflected in the council's contempt for public open space, treating declared parks as little more than vacant land to be used as building sites for infrastructure and community welfare projects.

"I'm not disputing the worth of any of those projects, but alternative sites were available."

Mr Williams has worked at Australian Seabird Rescue with his wife, Rochelle Ferris, for the past five years.

But he also has experience as a manager and government relations advisor at councils in Queensland, and said he would offer a "unique perspective" on Ballina Shire Council.

"Good governance processes, which require full consideration of the economic and social impacts of council decisions, make sure community interests are at front and centre of every decision," he said.

"I decided to stand for mayor because it's time to give our council a real shake-up and I don't think any current councillor deserves a promotion."



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