MAYOR WON’T BACK DOWN
Confronts angry protesters over lake road closure
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.
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.
NOT IMPRESSED: Participants in the protest at Lake Ainsworth, Lennox Head.
Ballina mayor David Wright talks to protesters at Lake Ainsworth, Lennox Head.