Monday 10 March 2008

Knock this Council down

I've said it before and I'll say it again, this stinks more than a five-day-old pasta.

The Villa scam will be the thorn in the side of Cairns City Council in their dying days.

It's a sad and sorry story about how a prominent local restaurant and their implication in a arrogant series of events, along with a complicit Council asleep at the wheel.

Now over a year since the completion of an illegal extension, a 53 sq meter extension no less, has eaten up public foot-path and a reconfigured road and parking area to accommodate this 'land grab'.

False Cape developer John Ewen did the same when he took the EPA to court to have a road bull-dozed through State heritage first. He was given the land without a penny changing hands.

I've blogged on this subject, and in great detail, over the past eight months. I told how a Council overturned their original vote to endorse the extension, and then handed the "negotiation" to the Mayor and the CEO.

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

The Cairns 1st team sent down a working bee this morning to start work on the 'demolition'.

Villa Romana owner George Papagelou, last week filed for another retrospective approval to Cairns City Council, which in turn, sent the application to the Department of Natural Resources.

The Council should have simply written back and said "Dear George, at 9am next Monday, we'll tear it down. If you don't, we will. Love Kevin."

Val Schier of Cairns 1st said that direct action over the failure of Mayor Kevin Byrne to act on Villa Romana’s 'blatant take over of a public footpath', is long overdue. "It's now more than four months after the Department of Natural Resources referred the matter back to Council for a decision," says Val Schier.

The Cairns Regional Council mayoral candidate said that questions need to be asked about why the Mayor, a regular diner at the restaurant, is keeping the matter on the back burner.

“”We know that Villa Romana appropriated 53 square metres of footpath and closed it in for their own use during their $1.5million refurbishment," she says.

“We also know that Villa Romana is Kevin Byrne’s favourite dining spot. What the general public is asking is whether there is a link between these two.”

Division 5 candidate Richie Bates said that Villa Romana had got away with trespassing for long enough and it is time for action.

“We took our demolition crew down to the restaurant on the corner of the Esplanade this morning to demonstrate what we will order owner, George Papagelou to do when we are elected this Saturday," says Richie Bates.

“It's hard to tell who's responsible for this construction debacle,” Bates says. “It could have been the owner, the private certifier, Council, or the builder. Perhaps it was the lot working together to show contempt for public ownership of the footpath," he says.

"No they are again putting in a retrospective application to the Department of Natural Resources.”

Val Schier of Cairns 1st says it's clear that no-one is going to be able to thumb their nose at planning conditions under a government lead by her team.

“If Villa Romana gets away with this, then it’s more of the open slather approach that we have had towards development for the past eight years,” she says.

As the "demolition gang" arrived this morning, some frantic mobile calls were made from Villa staff, to alert the absent owner, who was believed to be in Melbourne.

"Never mind, go and shout them some champagne!" George Papagelou said. And so they did. Out came fresh sparkling bubbly for the hard workers!

"Thanks, but I don't think we can accept this," said Val Schier on behalf of her workers.

It will take more than a bottle of bubbly to put this case to the back room.

This is one of the most blatant examples of disrespect from our Cairns City Council and the owners, to treat public land as if it's their's for the taking.


Anonymous said...

This particular issue is symptomatic of the stench emanating from Byrne and his crony administration - but it also highlights his utter stupidity:
Why for the cost of a meal and a coffee would he have allowed this issue to fester to become the rod which beats repeatedly across his back? Unless that is, it’s more than lunch and coffee … ?

Anonymous said...

Yes, but Villa Romana donated $1000 to KB's election fund last time around. They have to get something for their money.

Anonymous said...

The online links are now too dated but anyone who wants to do some research will find some interesting references to Villa Romana in Melbourne as a haunt for the notorious Victorian gangland murderers of a few years ago.

How does it go? Never know who you will see at Villa Romana?

Anonymous said...

Awww where's Kirsten? Maybe she was at after school care? Good that you said no to the champagne, as she wouldn't be allowed to drink it yet!

And here's a tip.

When you're running for Mayor, and you're going to be in numerous photos and interviews during the day, how about a few different frocks? You don't want to look like you only have the one blue one now do you! Schier Brilliance!

Anonymous said...

Anon #4 above ,,, Go root yourself pal!
I reckon our gal Val is a hottie!

Anonymous said...

Villa Romana not only donated $1,000 to KB last election, it's manager at the time, helped raise thousands of dollars on KB'S behalf. Where was his celebrations held? You never see him paying a bill there. Just as John MacKenzie never says anything about this matter as he also does contradeals with George (Contradeal)Papagelou, you will find him there every morning, Mon - Fri about 7.00am.

Anonymous said...

The floor space of 53 sq metres equates to a minimum of $75,000 rental at commercial rate of nearby shops. So is George going to pay the back rent for the last year. Maybe the rate could be over $130,000 as it is one of the most prominent commercial sites in Cairns.