Koala-gate controversy rages
A RALLY was staged at the council offices on Monday to attract more signatures to a petition asking Councillor Barry Longland to drop a controversial motion which seeks to permanently open a protective koala gate at Black Rocks Sports Oval, Pottsville.
Fifty people attended the march through the Murwillumbah CBD, including Councillor Katie Milne.
Mayor Gary Bagnall said while he briefly addessed the crowd including asking them to conduct a peaceful protest, he did not participate.
Mayor Bagnall said he kept an eye on the group's lap of the CBD which he said was peaceful.
Cr Longland said he put the motion forward because at least 50 people have complained to him about the gate.
Currently the gate is kept locked at night to protect the dwindling local koala colony from dogs and drivers who hoon on the sports fields.
But residents say the gate has interfered with the recreational use of public land.
Anne Skuse said her disabled husband was locked inside the sports ground when the gate was shut earlier than the 5.30pm in council by-laws.
"I am an animal lover, but the Black Rocks Sports Oval should be there for the community to use, that's what it was built for, public recreation," she said.
On Thursday Cr Longland will call for the gate to be removed and for a re-assessment of measures used to reduce hooning.
He said the situation had been made worse by a resident locking the gate with their own lock.
"The outcome has been unacceptable for the residents of Pottsville who want to use the field for recreation," Cr Longland said.
Word of Cr Longland's motion quickly spread last week with Team Koala campaigners firing off letters to the editor to local newspapers.
Team Koala also launched a petition on Sunday at Uki Markets calling on Cr Longland to withdraw his motion. It was signed by 203 people.
"The purpose of this petition was to engage with members of the community in Cr Barry Longland's home town," said spokesman Dave Norris.
Team Koala says it's imperative that the koala habitat surrounding the sports field site be protected.
"Councillors and council staff should accept the advice of the koala experts in Council's Koala Advisory Committee who recommended the installation of the gates," Mr Norris said.