THE CANDIDATES’ FORUM THAT BECAME A “PRO-DEVELOPER FARCE”.
Only one mayoral candidate, Clare Stewart, attended, and only one sitting Councillor, Jess Glasgow, attended.
The Peregian Beach Community Association says it intends to defend the village against blatant, developer-biased attempts to water down the Town Plan like last night’s “farcical” candidates’ forum in a village restaurant.
PBCA President Barry Cotterell said only about half of the Councillor candidates and just one of two mayoral candidates attended the event advertised as jointly run by Future Noosa and Peregian Family and Friends Association, a group based outside Noosa Shire whose Secretary is a developer and, until a few days ago, a campaign manager for the Future Noosa group of candidates.
Mr Cotterell said “this was clearly not an impartial candidates’ forum. It was organised by certain candidates and their backers, and focused on loaded, pro-development questions asked of them by organisers.”
“One PFAF question described Peregian Beach as some kind of “regional hub” requiring much more parking.”
Mr Cotterell said the intent of this question was madness for a seaside village. “Some people may not be aware we have many new parks recently created in the Rufous Street area just a couple of hundred metres from the village.”
“One of many reasons we have fought against the PFAF campaign for a much larger, commercial surf club hotel on our foreshore is the traffic chaos that would result and the threat to our village amenity.”
He said Peregian Beach does not need to attract many more cars and worse congestion through a significant parking boost in limited public space.
“We need to manage traffic, improve public transport and retain our village feel. You don’t do that by bringing in even more cars.”
“The second question”, he said, “appears to have been written by a developer”, with “a clear inference that we should reduce the legal costs of defending the Town Plan by negotiating more with developers trying to circumvent it.”
Mr Cotterell said Noosa’s lifestyle, environment and restrained building required a vigilant Council committed to defending the Town Plan against “rogue” developers.
“Legal costs are not misspent money. They are an investment in protecting our lifestyle against vested interests trying to make a commercial gain.”
PBCA says it will stage the Eastern beaches’ only full candidates’ forum on Saturday, March 21st at the Peregian Beach Community House. Mr Cotterell says this will be voters last chance to make up their minds, and will include the only extended debate between the two mayoral contenders.
Here are the two questions asked by organisers of candidates who attended;
1. Do you think current car parking in Peregian is sufficient? Council and the State consider Peregian Park a regional recreation area. Council also considers Peregian Beach a regional hub, an example of this being the construction of the Peregian Digital Hub, which is supposed to build IT capability for the whole shire. Additionally, over the past two years, Council have added more commercial space to Peregian without any additional car parks when they built the Digital Hub, and this issue will be exacerbated when the new Peregian Beach Community House is built. Should Council be trying to improve car parking in Peregian and what are the best options for this?
2. The old Friendly Grocer building opposite Pizzami is an eyesore and has been for an extended period, with neighbouring business reporting rats and residents keen to have this prime space occupied again. The development application is currently being appealed in the Planning and Environment court. Recently, Council spent more than $1m of ratepayers funds on legal fees for another local planning application (Thomco Pty Ltd). What is your position on the amount of legal fees spent by Council and what the appropriate approach is for reducing these fees going forward?