Council unable to pursue costs

Cr Warren Polglase
Cr Warren Polglase

TWEED Shire Council will not be able to claim court costs against Hastings Point protesters despite a vow by Mayor Warren Polglase to do so.

In his first major public statement after being appointed mayor in September, Cr Polglase warned opponents of a major “seniors living” complex in court not to continue with a court challenge to the council’s development approval.

However the Hastings Point Progress Association is pushing ahead with a fresh challenge to the High Court after losing a case against the council approval of “The Point” seniors’ living resort in the NSW Court of Appeal.

The progress association is continuing to challenge an earlier decision by the NSW Land and Environment Court last year in a bid to stop the project, originally given council approval in 2007.

Although the court awarded costs in favour of the developer, lawyers have warned the council will not be entitled to claims its costs of about $1300 so far.

When Greens Party councillor Katie Milne questioned the Mayor’s earlier comments in the council meeting on Tuesday she was quickly called to order by Cr Polglase and warned to “be accurate” in any comments.

Cr Polglase’s earlier statement is still on the council website where he refers to “statements in the press” that the decision of the Court of Appeal in regard to the development was “going to be re-challenged”.

“I would suggest these parties reconsider their position, as council will be pursuing costs along with the other respondent,” Cr Polglase said.

In a report this week, senior council staff said the council did not “actively defend” the Court of Appeal case. They said the council “only put in a submitting appearance, thus allowing the case to be defended by the applicant”.

“Therefore the costs order issued by the Court of Appeal would only apply to the second respondent, Aeklig Pty Ltd, to recover their costs from the applicant Hastings Point Progress Association,” the report said.

The progress association’s solicitor John O’Reilly yesterday said: “It would seem then that Mr Polglase’ position and previous media comments were made really to intimidate the community on behalf of the developer”.

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