Joan van Lieshout
Joan van Lieshout

Panel selection delayed

TWEED Shire councillors have failed to agree on which two people should take over many of the council's planning powers, prompting an extraordinary meeting which is to be held in a fortnight.

The seven councillors were unable to choose the two names from a list of 11 nominees, instead managing only to whittle the names down to a shortlist of five during a behind-closed-doors session on Tuesday night.

They rejected most of the better-known local names, but no councillor has publicly revealed who they support or their reasons.

When the two Council appointees are finally chosen they will join three Government-appointed panel members to make decisions on approving major development applications for projects such as high-rises, major retail complexes and housing estates.

Neighbouring Byron Council has refused to make any appointments to its panel, pro- testing that the new system usurps its planning powers.

Tweed's councillors decided to interview each short-listed person for about half an hour before an open-doors, special meeting on Tuesday week, June 30 - a move which only just allows them time to meet the State Government's deadline for a decision.

The extraordinary meeting to make a final decision has to be held on Tuesday week because both Mayor Joan van Lieshout and Greens Party councillor Katie Milne are due to attend a nationwide councils' conference in Canberra next week.

The short list of people for the job includes:

  • Peter Bennett, who campaigned against proposals for a large dam between Murwillumbah and Tyalgum,
  • former council general manager Dr John Griffin,
  • engineer Steven Grimes,
  • Barrister Robert Quirk of Terranora, the son of Tweed Canefarmers' president, Robert Quirk Snr.
  • Dr Ned Wales, assistant professor of Urban Planning at Bond University.

Those who applied but were not included on the short list were:

  • former Greens Party councillor Henry James,
  • former council strategic planner Douglas Jardine,
  • former council engineer and planner Don McAllister,
  • Pottsville Business Association president Tania Murdock,
  • Murwillumbah resident Lisa Townsend who has campaigned on a number of local issues,
  • Ronald Wolff, a Uki environmentalist and former tax department officer.

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