Councillors warned of legal liability
WHITSUNDAY Councillors have been warned against approving a residential development application in Bowen on the grounds that a decision to do so could result in legal action in the future.
The advice of Council officers was that the application by WS Group on behalf of Reibel Farms Pty Ltd had not demonstrated the development could proceed safely given the current flooding regime in Bells Gully.
Council’s chief executive officer Scott Waters told yesterday’s ordinary Council meeting in Proserpine that his advice to councillors was that there was a significant risk of litigation should something go wrong.
Cr Jan Clifford said it was beyond Council’s financial capability to provide the flood mitigation works that would be necessary to ensure the development could safely go ahead.
Cr Kevin Collins raised the point that Councillors could be held personally liable in the event of litigation. He said 30 years ago, Council approved a planning application which was now the subject of legal action against the Councillors of the day and not the current Council.
“If we vote against the recommendation of a Council officer it’s on our heads,” he said.
However, Crs Dave Clark and Peter Ramage expressed concerns about “stifling development” in Bowen.
Whitsunday mayor Jennifer Whitney assured them that Council was acting in a non-biased manner on a level playing field.
Cr Andrew Willcox moved to table the matter for more discussion but this was defeated by four votes to three and Councillors eventually refused the premlinary approval by six votes to one.