Coun­cil deals fairly

Townsville Bulletin - - Voice Of The North - Opin­ion Craig Stack, Chair CBD Task­force

I RE­FER to the ar­ti­cle and com­men­tary in the Townsville Bul­letin ( March 5, 2011) in re­la­tion to head­works charges for a prop­erty in the sub­urbs. While I am un­aware of the his­tor­i­cal cir­cum­stances of this plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion, two mat­ters con­tained within the ar­ti­cle were dis­ap­point­ing.

The first con­cerns the claims that ‘‘ busi­ness iden­ti­ties are re­luc­tant to speak out for fear of be­ing sin­gled out for ret­ri­bu­tion in any deal­ings with Townsville City Coun­cil" and ‘‘ a prom­i­nent busi­ness­man did not want to be iden­ti­fied" when mak­ing a claim link­ing the Coun­cil and the per­for­mance of the lo­cal econ­omy.

I have never ex­pe­ri­enced, ob­served or heard of any cir­cum­stance where Coun­cil could be claimed to have acted in a man­ner that could be con­sid­ered venge­ful when it comes to Town Plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions. It would also be my ob­ser­va­tion that if a Coun­cil did act in such a man­ner, there are suf­fi­cient av­enues open to the ap­pli­cant to con­test the Coun­cil’s de­ci­sion and test the de­vel­op­ment as­sess­ment process. If some­one can show a spe­cific cir­cum­stance where a Coun­cil has acted in this way, then those cir­cum­stances should be pre­sented in the ap­pro­pri­ate man­ner.

The ar­ti­cle is, in my view, a slur on said busi­ness iden­ti­ties more than it is Coun­cil – and I be­lieve I am yet to meet any rel­e­vant lo­cal iden­tity who would hold such a view and seek to re­main anony­mous.

The strength of this City over the past two decades has been its plau­si­ble and ro­bust dis­cus­sion, usu­ally be­tween par­ties with a com­mon pur­pose r egard­ing t he progress of Townsville.

The sec­ond concern is the ar­ti­cle and associated com­men­tary then per­son­alises com­ments to­ward Coun­cil staff, while com­plicit in re­tain­ing the anonymity of those mak­ing claims against Coun­cil.

It is likely that the premise of the ar­ti­cles and com­men­tary was a call for trans­parency and bal­ance in de­ci­sions by Coun­cil – these should be in­her­ent in any ac­tion by a pub­lic en­tity. In openly crit­i­cis­ing Coun­cil of­fi­cers how­ever, we only make the en­vi­ron­ment more dif­fi­cult for these of­fi­cers to per­form the tasks we ex­pect them to per­form.

Dur­ing my in­ter­ac­tion with Townsville City Coun­cil over the past 12 months in re­la­tion to the CBD, the Coun­cil and its var­i­ous of­fi­cers have been dili­gent in en­sur­ing a very even handed ap­proach is taken in all con­sid­er­a­tions, re­gard­less of who might own land or pro­pose a de­vel­op­ment.

While de­ci­sions may dis­ap­point some, there would ap­pear lit­tle jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to then make gen­er­ally un­sup­port­able claims about our econ­omy and the coun­cil with­out pre­sent­ing the ar­gu­ment per­son­ally and log­i­cally.

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