Sunday 6 January 2008

Just another Council cover up

CairnsBlog regular contributor, Jude reminded me that we still haven't heard the final outcome of land-grab of Villa Romana.

This is a Council's balls up - they blame it on the private certifier - who is governed by Council regulations - and the State Government's Natural Resources and Water). Villa was the once Mayor's dining place of choice.

Those that haven't followed this one, should read the previous postings and also the follow up.

If this isn't dealt with in the next few weeks, as was the proposed decision to do so in early December, and get the owner to rip down the illegal extension, then it will loom loud and clear over a Mayor wanting to be re-elected with his paw prints all over it.

Villa Romana need to demolish this illegal extension, that spans 53sq meter onto our public footpath. Maybe we can can gather down there on the Esplanade on Saturday night 15th March, for our post-Election Party, and all bring our sledge hammers?!

You will note in my article referring to the Council Minutes of July 26th 2007, where this subject was debated, have been removed from the Council's website. I've learnt, as many readers have also informed me, that this is becoming all too normal. Access to information under this current administration is very restrictive and difficult to find.

When you ring and ask, you're always directed to complete a FOI request and pay the application fee!

Prior to August last year, all Council Minutes are removed. Why do they do this? Why on earth would they not retain all the Council minutes online for anyone to access and read previous decisions?

This is in stark contrast to the Douglas Shire Council that retains all previous Council Meeting Minutes for every year.

Johnstone Shire do the same. As do Mareeba Shire. So does Cook Shire. Even Eacham Shire publish theirs. Cardwell Shire puts all theirs up online. But oh, not Cairns City Council!

God help the Douglas Shire after March if you let Byrne run your neighbourhood.

Check out how many "Material Change of Use" motions you can find in the December Council Minutes.

The last two meetings of the Cairns City Council are coming up. You should come along for the circus. The next one is on Thursday 24 January at 5:30pm, in the 3rd floor boardroom at 119 Spence Street.

And regarding Villa, why are we waiting?


Anonymous said...

Here are the facts.

The plans that were submitted for the outdoor dining permit approval showed the encroaching wall as a "wind break", ala plastic sheeting.
The building work was carried out behind a large covering shroud supervised by a private certifier, who is licensed by the Labour State Government. Council do not have "building inspectors" anymore, this area of responsibility is now State Govt controlled and managed.
The building work was hidden from view and a casual observer would have thought it was part of the Trilogy development.
It was not.
The land encroached over is NOT RATEPAYER OWNED. It is owned by the Crown and administered by the Dept of Natural Resources and Water.
Council's role, under the Local Govt Act, is to manage and maintain the road reserve upon which the Villa Romano encroaches.
To that end, Council has bought the matter of encroachment to the attention of the owner's representative (DNR&W) for them to deal with.
You are wrong to bag Councillors and council officers about this matter.
Council is waiting for the Labour State Government (through the DNR&W)to either ...

1. Sell the land
2. Lease the land
3. Order the encroachment to be removed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gary aka FootMan. You are a valid and helpful contributor to this Blog.

Anonymous said...

What about all the missing Council Minutes Factman... what's the story?

When you pop into the office tomorrow, can you find out and let us all know?

I bet you do know what gioes on because you are the one responsibile for "community relations".. and what a debarcle that is in in the town!!!

You have a selectibe way on answering things on here. Even my 15 year old son just said that!


Anonymous said...


while i believe you, the public is not so understanding of the details of the legalities; the public will most likely continue to believe that the council is complicit with this abuse of public land, especially with the hitory of council high profile figures dining there in the past. The public (and even myself undertanding your facts) will see it as something a little be naughty being taken care of for a "friend of council". Wouldn't it be better to have the whole mess cleaned up and pulled down to try to recover some council image? It will be a long lasting legacy forever tarnishing the council's name if it stands as it is, even if the land is "sold" to cover the whole mess up.

Anonymous said...

That can be another election issue; that Council Minutes are posted online for the community to access.

Anonymous said...

Nothing sinister here Karen.
They are not "missing" and there has been no "cover up".
For the last 7 years the minutes (from all Council committees) have been published on the web site. They are removed,(from the web site), after 4 months, thus leaving the current and more relevant committee minutes available for perusal.
To my knowledge, no one has complained about this until now, care of Mr Michael Moore.
There appears to be an unhealthy touch of paranoia about this Cairnsblog and it creator.

Anonymous said...

Factman... "Council Minutes are removed from the website after 4 months leaving the current and more relevant committee minutes available" !!!

So why does no other Cuncil employ this dodgy practise?

Is there not enough space on the Council computer servers!!!

This is the lamest excuse I've heard Gary. Bout time your boss and the Council you work for started to realise WE DON'T TRUST YOU. This is yet another example of the widespread distrust that Byrne has right across this region.

Expect zilch support in Port Douglas.. and the Northern Beaches...

Put the Minutes up online. They are a vital public record for all ratepayers and residents to access.

What a typical arrogant minded Council to remove these documents after only 4 months.

We will not be supporting this discetful Council.

Yet another thing that this Cairnsblog has uncovered. Good oy you guys. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

I agree about CCC minutes that are so transparent,that they can vapourise after a few months online.

Ona realted issue, the priority ability of the shreader to get fed printed Coucil reports ahead of the public or the press is wrong, and very Putin.

On this issue where this Blog states "God help the Douglas Shire after March", and sure as hell, his thoughts are on our minds, here in Douglas, but whilst declaring a self,( interest, failing God helping, Rod will try. As an amateur radio journo, as well as Port Douglas's councillor, I must fly the flag for recorded speach transparency.

It was an uphill battle, still not ended, but at least I managed to get the Douglas meetings recorded, so us paying public and press can hear what was said.

I can't claim that what was said and recorded within Douglas was either edifying or uplifting in the generally Kennedy free zone of the Douglas Shire's famous speeches, but the paying public at least could one day hear what was said if needed, at a pinch.

The new CRC should record what was said in Council, not just what was resolved, and it should be available in podcast chunks online for all to hear, the next day. Cairns at least has good meeting room microphone systems, so what is uploaded will be easily heard.

The electronic journos would have a field day on the truth if the 'parliamentary discussion' is all available online. Our local governments are not local fuedal corporations, they are publically owned and publically accountable service organisations.

Every citizen is entited in 2008, to hear everything said in open council, and with the web, its simple to hear from anywhere. The Council debate should also be streamed live.

I will try at least to roll away the stone from the grave of politically accountable speach, if I get re-elected.
If you are a councillor, and you say it, then you wear it.

Rgds and blog on to:
Douglas Shire Councillor Rod Davis
0418 235 561

Anonymous said...

Re Council Minutes - have any of you actually been to a Council Meeting? There is no "debate" at the Council Meetings. The outcomes are already long decided. What needs to change is the fact that the Public do not know what the Council staff recommendations are until the day of the meeting. The Agenda comes out 1 week before the Meeting, if you want to speak on any of the items on the Agenda, you have to request in writing, a week in advance. Unless of course you are a Developer and that nicety of notice can be waived. While the Meeting is in progress, the Public Gallery must remain silent. The Meetings start at 1730 and rarely go more than an hour. There is nothing worthwhile to record.

Anonymous said...

Some keen eyed Esplanade dwellers even observered George, Paul and the boys down at Villa with their plans laid out on the table before construction.

While the Mayor had an adjacent table to himself enjoying a large glass of red. Perhaps Factman can confirm whether the Mayor paid for the vino himself or indeed how much of his conspicuous consumption at Villa he has paid for over the years?

Tony Hillier said...

As the editor of an old-fashioned journal (Barfly) that for many years did its level best, with limited resources and despite threats and withdrawal of advertising, to provide surveillance of council matters, it warms the cockles of my heart to see the new "alternative" media putting local government under such close scrutiny. Keep hitting Spin Doctor Schofield and Mayor Byrne to the boundary you bloggers ... right up to election time. This council and its spokesman, like Ceasar, have good reason to fear the Ides of March.

Anonymous said...

How dare an official City Council spokesperson like Scofiled tell us that the Counil meeting minutes are removed "to keep only recent ones". What a lame arse answer.

Let me remind you all, the Council is a public organisation.. dealing with public funds...

These documents record the primary democratic access we have to our local authority, and they deceatfully remove all these off the website in 4 short months!!

Glad this blog has uncovered and exposed yet another thing that this Council should be so ashamed of.

I run two businesses in Portsmith, emplying a total of 42 people.,.. and this subject was discussed this morning around the smoko rooms. You can be assured that there is little support for this corrupt counil.

Anonymous said...

The artefactman has made up his own spin on the Villa Romana fiasco; blame the state government. Wrong. The matter of the unauthorised and illegal encroachment of the building on to public land has been referred by Dept Natural Resources back to Cairns City Council which has the responsibility to determine encroachment issues. How come it hasn't come before Council yet? And how come there is not more media coverage of this colossal blunder? Is it a case of an unscrupulous builder and owner who thought they could get away with a major takeover of public land or are they going to blame it on the certifier? Perhaps we need some direct action: how about we publicise this unresolved saga by taking our sandwiches down and sitting at the Villa Romana tables every day and having a public picnic on our public land until KB has the guts to bring it up in a full council meeting and order the extension to be pulled down.

Anonymous said...

C'mon Mandy ...
A State Government licensed building certifier allows encroachment over Crown Land, (abeit road reserve), and it's all Council's fault.
As you know, Council wouldn't support road closure and requested direction on what action the Crown's administrator for this land (DNR&W) wanted to take.
I mean, after the Apres Beach Bar & Grill at Palm Cove encroachment fiasco where DNR&W leased the land after the fact, Council needed direction in this case.
As you know, Council's role in road reserve management is primarily to ensure pedestrian and traffic safety, not to resolve a land theft situation.
That responsibility lies fairly and squarely with Crown's administrator for this land, the State Government through (DNR&W).
Ask Desley, Warren and Steve what they think.

Anonymous said...

hmmm Factman, and what about the road reserve pulled up at the end of Upolu Esplanade at Clifton Beach, so the Argentea development could have their absolute beachfont. Council should have advertised the road closure and allow public submissions but they didn't. State Govt made them advertise it retrospectively but too late then, the developer had the road up the day after locals met with the Developer to voice their concern.

Anonymous said...

Jude ...

Council do not enact "road closure"
That can only be done by the State Government.
Council are asked for their opinion as a "stakeholder", that is all.
The legislation gives the State, the final say or power to "close the road", convert to unallocated state land, USL, and dispose of it, how it sees fit to.

Anonymous said...

Factman, if what you say is true, then how come Upolu Esplanade was allowed to be ripped up by the Developer under "Delegated Authority"? The State didn't know their road had gone. The EPA approval for Argentea says that there are to be no vehicle access on to the blocks from Upolu Esplanade but also says that "Upolu Esplanade is to be retained for cycleway and pedestrian development". Nothing about pulling up the road. The Local Government Act 1993 allows local governments to close part of a road, to particular traffic by Public Notice. This was never done. A letter to the then CEO, Mr Farmer from the Minister for Environment, Local Government, Planning and Women, says that Council were required to publish a notice under section 915(1) of the Act.
As an aside, if as you say State have total control on everything, and the Council none, then why do we actually need a council?

Anonymous said...

Jude ... "Road closure" means the designated land is no longer needed as road and the owner's rep, DNR&W "close" the designation and dispose of it.
The Local Authority (Council) as managers of the designated road, are consulted to see if the road is still required as per traffic management plans for the local area.
"Temporary road closure" is enacted by the local authority as a traffic management tool. The land is still gazetted as road reserve, and the public still have the right to access it. The use of vehicles on the road reserve is controlled by whatever means the local authority decides.
There is a considerable difference here.
You ask ... who needs Councils?
I ask ... who needs State Government?
Education, health, police etc. etc. could be adequately run from a Federal platform, IMHO.

KitchenSlut said...

How curious that the 'Factman' has been posting but not addressed my question of just how much has KB actually paid for his largesse at Villa over the years?

Anonymous said...

...because everything about their excuses about Villa and their land grab approval ("happened behind a screen when they where building" !!!) is stinks worse than a council out of ideas and out of tune with the real world.

Anonymous said...

Its time for Factman and KB to start looking for new jobs.
We have had it up to here with all your excuses and deceit. I am sure that after awhile, you must start to believe your own spin.The conspiracy over the loss of Upolu Esplanade, Clifton Beach and the direct benefit of this road space to a developer really , really stinks and we will not put up with your lame excuses anymore. Over 600 residents signed a petition that went to and was tabled in State parliament.
We expect transparency and until there is a will to change your culture of benefiting developers at the expense of local residents, then we do not need those that make up this Council.