A DECISION by organisers of the world championship Rally Australia to move their main pit lane out of a beachfront park at Kingscliff to the nearby Cudgen Rugby League Club was yesterday met with both cheers and jeers.
Announcing the shift, Rally Australia organising committee chairman Garry Connelly said rally officials had contacted the leagues club and other sports clubs which use the Walter Peate Reserve as well as a large retirement village next door and “received approval for the use of the area”.
It is less than a kilometre from the previously intended rally car “service park” site in Jack Bayliss Park on the Kingscliff beachfront.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest, who had taken up the fight for a change in venue to the leagues club grounds, welcomed the decision.
But in a stunning twist he then revealed he is still likely to vote against promised special state legislation approving the rally because it robs Tweed Shire Council of its traditional planning powers.
“We have waited too long for democracy to return to the Tweed,” said Mr Provest, who had long been critical of the lengthy appointment of council administrators.
He said the change of venue was a win for Kingscliff locals.
“A large number of people did approach me with concerns such as access to the beach,” he said.
“At the end of the day it's the rights of the local people that need to be protected.”
Mr Provest said he had been assured staff and visitors wanting to get to the adjacent aged care home, Wommin Bay Village, would be “catered for” during the event.
Cudgen Leagues Club secretary manager Grant Brown said the rally was welcome.
“We should benefit greatly from it,” he added.
But president of the No Rally Group Michael McNamara raised doubts on whether the announcement could be believed, whether the change of venue would be included in the special legislation and whether any impact reports had been done relating to the new venue.
Even so, he said “moving the service park doesn't change anything in our mind”.
“Are they also going to do another study, because the studies (the noise and ecological reports) they did specifically referred to the foreshore park at Kingscliff?”
Mr Connelly said the new location for the pits was “far better than we were going to have by the beach”, but his committee “had understood at the start of our rally planning that it would not be available”.
Mr Connelly thanked Mr Provest, Tweed mayor Joan van Lieshout and deputy mayor Barry Longland for “making it possible”.
“It will be like the pits at a Formula 1 grand prix, but with the exciting difference that entry is free and people will be able to even talk to the drivers,” he added.