Mayor rejects Leda's inquiry claim

A MAJOR developer's claims that an independent inquiry may be necessary into Tweed Shire Council's planning processes have been rejected by Mayor Barry Longland.

But Cr Longland said a full investigation would be held into complaints against specific staff by Leda Developments, which is owned by billionaire developer Bob Ell who wants to build two new townships at Cobaki Lakes west of the Gold Coast Airport and Kings Forest, south of Kingscliff.

"Like any complaint that's made against staff, that is always investigated," Cr Longland said yesterday.

"That's routine and that will happen in this case."

Leda's regional general manager Reg van Rij has sent two thick dossiers to the council complaining about the council planning department in dealing with the two developments.

Mr van Rij said earlier this week an independent inquiry into the deficiencies exposed by his company may be necessary.

Cr Longland said the council was looking at having a "third party" investigate the complaints against staff.

"(But) I don't want that to be interpreted as being an independent inquiry into council planning processes," Cr Longland said.

"I can't stress enough, this is mostly about claims made against particular staff."

Cr Longland said the "third party" could be someone from the NSW Division of Local Government - just as former local government official Robert Bulford held an inquiry into complaints about planning staff in 2001.

"Having a third party involved means the views of staff can be fully exposed," he added.

"Any internal inquiry may well inhibit staff from being able to talk about the sort of treatment they have received from Leda."

However Cr Longland said he wanted to see an improved relationship with the company.

"The bottom line is I want to see the council have a relationship with Leda that is constructive and positive and bring about the best outcomes - a win-win," he said.

"We are talking about two townships for 15,000 people.

"We would be derelict in our duty if we weren't robust in our assessment of these proposals."


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