Ramada in dispute yet again

CONCERN about a ‘lack of transparency’ during debate about the Ramada Hotel at Ballina Shire Council’s Dec-ember meeting has formed the basis of an official complaint made by the BallinaEnvironment Society (BES).

President Lyn Walker said it was ‘an unusual step’, but that the BES felt it had a‘moral obligation’ to take the matter further.

Although the BES would not go into detail about the complaint, it said it concerned ‘possible irregularities and inconsistencies in the council’s proper process’ during debate about the change of use application for the Ramada.

The non-pecuniary code of conduct complaint has been lodged with the council and the Department of Local Gov-ernment.

The council’s general manager, Paul Hickey, confirmed he had received the BES complaint.

He said it would be investigated in due course.

Dr Walker said the BES ‘stood watch over’ the way planning and development decisions were made in the Ballina Shire ‘because these decisions impact on the shire’s natural and built environments’.

“As a rule, the environment society avoids taking direct action of this kind where particular public figures are inv-olved and it gains no pleasure in having to do so,” Dr Walker said.

“But on this occasion theinformed public expect us to take action on their behalf, because so many are clearly concerned with the way they perceive the matter to have been handled.”

Dr Walker said there was a ‘widespread public perception’ that debate about the change of use application for the Ramada was ‘tainted’.

“Our association has nodirect interest as such in the outcome of the Ramada deb-ate. We are essentially conveying the public’s perception of lack of transparency,” she said.

Earlier this month, the owner of The Point restaurant at the Ramada, John Cordina, confirmed he had lodged an official complaint relating to the change of use application.

His complaint centred on concerns that Cr Peter Moore should not have voted on the issue because of his relationship with developer Chris Condon.

But Cr Moore denied there was a conflict of interest.



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