MAYOR WON’T BACK DOWN

Con­fronts an­gry protesters over lake road clo­sure

The Northern Star - - FRONT PAGE - Alina Rylko alina.rylko@north­ern­star.com.au

BAL­LINA Shire Mayor David Wright con­tin­ues to sup­port a road clo­sure at Lake Ainsworth, de­spite be­ing con­fronted over the pro­posal by hun­dreds of an­gry op­po­nents at a protest on Satur­day.

Over 200 Len­nox Head res­i­dents turned out against a coun­cil pro­posal to close the eastern road ac­cess, con­cerned it would re­duce park­ing space, pub­lic and dis­abil­ity ac­cess and so­cial amenity.

Speak­ers, in­clud­ing lo­cal in­dige­nous elder Lois Cook and Elder’s Real Es­tate agent Pip Carter, crit­i­cised the plans, and urged Cr Wright to use his cast­ing vote against the pro­posal, when it is de­bated in the com­ing months.

Mr Carter called on the coun­cil to main­tain and re­store the fore­shore and to start a com­mu­nity-driven coastal man­age­ment plan for the area in­stead.

He de­bated Cr Wright’s com­ments on the pro­posal in a re­cent The North­ern Star ar­ti­cle, where the mayor crit­i­cised the fac­tu­al­ity of a pe­ti­tion which has gar­nered over 4000 sig­na­tures against the pro­posal.

Cr Wright said peo­ple signed the pe­ti­tion be­cause it warned that paid park­ing was im­mi­nent but the coun­cil had no such plans.

Mr Carter agreed there were mis­truths in a widely cir­cu­lated brochure, in­clud­ing that there would be a loss of 224 car park­ing spa­ces if the road was closed. The fig­ure is closer to 140. Re­gard­less, protesters clapped and cheered in op­po­si­tion for any plans to close the eastern road ac­cess.

Res­i­dents with a dis­abil­ity were con­cerned they would no longer have ac­cess to the fore­shore with­out the eastern road ac­cess.

Len­nox Head res­i­dents Yas­min Hon­ey­church was con­cerned for­mal park­ing would lead to paid park­ing and Lucy Shana­han was con­cerned the road clo­sure would cause more conges­tion.

Len­nox Head res­i­dent of 40 years, Deb­bie Massie, said it was “un­nec­es­sary to close the road”.

“(The) coun­cil has failed to main­tain the fore­shore and it’s de­graded so much they need to do this,” Ms Massie said.

Some op­po­nents con­fronted Cr Wright af­ter the protest.

Cr Wright told The North­ern Star he wel­comed de­bate, and would con­sider the im­por­tance of dis­abil­ity ac­cess to the fore­shore, but was firm on his po­si­tion.

“I know this will look bril­liant when it’s fin­ished,” he said.

Cr Wright said the protest was also at­tended by sup­port­ers of the pro­posal.

He said the coun­cil needed to ad­dress traf­fic conges­tion.

PHOTO: ALINA RYLKO

STAND­ING FIRM: About 200 res­i­dents gath­ered at Lake Ainsworth in Len­nox Head to protest against changes to the lake sur­rounds. Bal­lina mayor David Wright con­tin­ues to sup­port a road clo­sure at the lake.

PHO­TOS: ALINA RYLKO

NOT IMPRESSED: Par­tic­i­pants in the protest at Lake Ainsworth, Len­nox Head.

Bal­lina mayor David Wright talks to protesters at Lake Ainsworth, Len­nox Head.

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