Segal 'draining council funds'
TWEED Shire Council administra- tor Max Boyd has blamed developer Gales Holdings for "placing an un- necessary financial drain on rate- payers' funds" by constantly taking the council to court. In a statement responding to re- cent criticism of the council by Gales director Dr Stephen Segal, and concerns by others that the con- tinuing legal row with Gales could cost millions and delay other plan- ning work for Kingscliff, Mr Boyd blamed Gales for taking the council to the Land and Environment Court --------------- --------------- "on many occasions over the last five years". Mr Boyd claimed all the actions were initiated by Gales with the% exception of cases where the% council sought compliance with% environmental laws and alleged that Gales Holdings was not% complying. He said the council has always wanted to avoid unnecessary legal proceedings and even appointed a special mediator two years ago "in the hope of avoiding what has since occurred". In regard to the dispute over Gales desire to build a district shop- --------------- --------------- ping centre on land including the old Kingscliff sewage treatment plant, which is yet to be decommis- sioned, Mr Boyd said the purchase price agreed to by Gales Holdings was based on the land being zoned industrial. He said a valuation of the land as commercial would have attracted a much-higher price. "Gales Holdings seems intent on spending any amount of money to achieve its goal of building a district shopping centre on this land and will take the council and its rate- payers to whatever court they see necessary," Mr Boyd added. --------------- --------------- "I have been surprised at the level of angst and at times vitriolic com- mentary that is being made about the court cases against Tweed Shire Council. "But where council is being chal- lenged in its decision by a company with seemingly endless resources, does council allow itself to be% bullied into making decisions in conflict with good planning prin-% ciples?" Mr Boyd said the council two years ago engaged a mediator who had extensive discussions with Gales Holdings over a period of some months. In the end, a negotiat- --------------- --------------- ed settlement of issues could not be achieved. Dr Segal however claims the council caused the mediation ses- sions - which he estimates cost the council $30,000 - to fail. He said during the process the council refused to meet with Gales and while mediation was supposed to be under way the administrators resolved not to allow the proposed district centre. "This was in breach of any possi- ble understanding, yet they accused Gales of breaching understand- ings," Dr Segal said.