Lifesavers not drowning in support

TWEED Coast volunteer surf lifesavers have struck a hostile reaction to pleas for Tweed Shire Council to drop a demand to pay a $150,000 fee after several councilors accused them of not acknowledging a previous council's financial generosity.

Cabarita Surf Life Saving Club has been told to pay $150,822.10 so the council can create 11 new car parking spaces if it adds a deck to its new clubhouse, which was built in 2006 after a 16-year battle with the council.

But a plea by club president Des Andersen at the council's community access meeting on Tuesday to drop the demand was met with little sympathy.

Instead deputy mayor Barry Longland told Mr Andersen that “given the press are here” he should have acknowledged the council had previously given $650,000 towards the construction of the new clubhouse.

Mayor Joan van Lieshout echoed the comments and Cr Kevin Skinner said the “majority of clubs would not have received anywhere near the funds Cabarita has received to date”.

The council contribution came at the end of a long battle during which the earlier clubhouse was condemned by the council after years of a lack of funding.

Mr Andersen responded saying he was happy to acknowledge the funding but it came at the cost of the club agreeing to a “mortgage” style arrangement under which the club land would be forfeited to the council if it ever ceased its life saving activities.

He said the council had waived $165,000 in fees for the Cudgen Surf Life Saving Club for 22 car parks but was levying the Cabarita club because it wanted to build a deck that would help lifesavers do their job of saving lives.

Not only that, he said the council had been refusing to trim bushes on the beach which blocked life savers' views.

“It's not a matter of having a good view. It's a matter of life and death,” he said.

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