New mayor takes charge in Tweed
NEW Tweed Mayor Barry Longland knows a lot about balance having spent 25 years as a Federal Government accountant and auditor.
But his next balancing trick may be his most challenging yet.
Cr Longland wants to achieve a balance between environmental pressures, community opinions and development in a shire where "balance" once became a divisive and, some say, misused word.
The so-called Balance Team candidates funded by a pro-development war chest in the 1999 council elections were followed in the 2004 poll by many of the same candidates backed by Tweed Directions fundraising.
Both teams were later castigated by the Daly Commission of Inquiry, which recommended the council's sacking in 2005.
It is that historical lack of balance Cr Longland seems desperate to avoid in the run-up to the council election in September next year.
"What we need to achieve is the right kind of balance with the obvious environmental protection needs ... those issues of sustainable economy, the things that are going to produce jobs and prosperity," Cr Longland said.
He added that he believes the council needs to "involve the community more" and "ensure we have mechanisms which will harness community opinions".
He admitted that could be difficult with issues such as huge urban developments at Cobaki Lakes, Kings Forest and Bilambil Heights in the pipeline and sections of the Cabarita Beach/ Bogangar community furious at the council over plans for a giant beachfront caravan park and nearby housing subdivision.
"These things will create some anxiety in the community," he said.
"They will have to be handled quite sensitively."
Cr Longland promised to "listen carefully" to Cabarita Beach and Bogangar residents who plan to present the council with results of a community survey about the controversial proposals for their area within weeks.
"The area between Cabarita and Hastings Point has some of the last undeveloped dunal section of our coast. The community has expressed a very strong position on what they believe should be done down there," he said.
"Low-rise and low-impact development along the Tweed Coast is something all residents are quite concerned about.
"You can walk along our beaches and you don't see any development.
"That certainly holds attraction for a section of the community."
Since retiring, Cr Longland has lived in the upriver Tweed village of Uki for the past 10 years and was president of the Uki Village and District Residents' Association until elected to the council in 2008.
He was elected on a community associations' ticket running with then Murwillumbah Residents' and Ratepayers' Association chairwoman Diana Eriksen, then Cabarita Beach/Bogangar Residents' Association president Cath Lynch, and then Tweed Heads District Residents and Ratepayers Association president Laurie Ganter.
On his candidate information sheet he said he had "been at the forefront of efforts to preserve and enhance the heritage and environment of the shire".