Brunswick Heads residents expressed their anger, disappointment, confusion and frustration last Wednesday at the state-appointed manager who is behind controversial plans to upgrade the town’s three public caravan parks and four Crown coastal reserves.
Several local mums were shocked to learn from NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust (NCHPT) manager Jim Bolger that under the plans for The Terrace Holiday Park, public access along the Simpsons Creek foreshore, or even through the park, will be closed off or restricted.
The plan involves erecting a 1.8-metre-high steel mesh fence all around the boundary of that park, shutting out locals altogether.
Other complaints by the public ranged from unanswered emails and phone call enquiries to Mr Bolger and a holiday park manager’s poor attitude toward locals.
It comes as Mr Bolger has been appointed media contact for his corporation while also refusing to answer questions on the planned eviction of the Brunswick Buccaneer boat hire business and a percieved conflict of interest, because his holdiay parks also hire boats.
Adding to the chorus of residents critical of Mr Bolger’s management is Byron councillor Di Woods.
She told The Echo, ‘I believe it was the most lacklustre attempt at community consultation I have witnessed, and was not transparent at all.’
‘I think that it should have been held in the community centre, with a presentation to the community and followed by questions and answers with everyone being able to hear the explanation.
‘Someone mentioned to me that Jim was heard to give two different answers to the same question by two individuals. This makes it hard for people to really understand what is truth and what is fiction.’
However, Cr Woods says there is room for negotiation. ‘It is always the case that when a plan is being put forward that the proponent usually asks for “an arm and a leg,” and then negotiations take place. If we had honest and transparent community consultation, with Council perhaps as a mediator, then surely an agreed position could be achieved.’
But what is the business community’s position?
Brunswick Heads chamber of commerce president Todd Buckland says, ‘In 2010 the Brunswick Heads Chamber of Commerce prepared a comprehensive submission on the previous Holiday Parks Plans of Management, and proposed several suggestions and solutions for the various issues they had with those plans.
‘The chamber’s mission is, “To foster a dynamic local business sector, encouraging sustainable and innovative business development, in line with the community’s vision for Brunswick Heads.” Brunswick Heads has many strategic planning documents, including the “Taking Care of Brunswick Tourism Management Plan” and the “Community Economic Transition Plan 2011-2016”, to guide us in our assessment of what is proposed this time around.
‘Over the next month we will be assessing the current plans of management (POM) in light of our mission statement and see which of our concerns have been addressed and which suggestions have been incorporated in the new POMs.
‘We will be making constructive suggestions for anything we feel is an issue.
‘The thrust of our submission will be the same as the previous: we highly value our low-key simple pleasures village lifestyle.
‘We have always been a holiday town and we want to protect it by attracting visitors whose values are aligned with our community values.
‘We want our holiday parks to align with this vision, instead of becoming clones of the holiday parks up and down the coast.
‘We are not so naive as to think that all of our suggestions will be adopted; it just won’t be humanly possible to satisfy everyone’s wishes.
‘However, we will be strongly encouraging the final plans of management to reflect the values and needs of those who live, work and play in Brunswick Heads.’
February 1 meet
Another community information session will be held by Mr Bolger on February 1 in the Memorial Park from 9am to 12pm as part of the local market.