The Community Environment Network (CEN) has raised concerns about Gosford Council’s decision to commence a fire sale of public land in Gosford LGA. At the Gosford Council meeting of 8 September, 2015, Councillors voted to proceed with a proposal to start selling off public land. The report identifies that Council’s Property Group has reviewed their property portfolio of over 3,000 lots and is establishing sites with sale potential. The report identifies Stage 1 of identifying 20 sites.
“We are concerned with the lack of a clear strategy and no community consultation on this proposal”, said Jane Smith, CEO of the Community Environment Network. “Council land belongs to the community – the residents and ratepayers of Gosford – not to the 10 Councillors sitting in the chambers or Council staff. This Council does not have a mandate to sell off public lands.”
“The Report refers to a Land Sale Strategy – however, there is no such strategy available. This sell off of public land appears to be a money grab.”
“With only 5 days notice of this item coming to Council, community members have already raised concerns about a number of individual lots. In particular, the number of playgrounds that appear to be listed – without any consultation with local communities. “
The Council report also talks about selling off land now and, in the future, “where new initiatives occur – Council will acquire the right parcel in the right location”. To sell off land now and then most likely pay increased prices for land in the future is illogical and false economy. It would be more prudent to buy and sell in the same market.
At the Council meeting on Tuesday, some Councillors took comfort that they have initiated a process whereby the community will be asked to make submissions, attend public hearings and then make further representations to Council on a lot by lot basis. However, at the same time Councillors approved the sale of 3 lots to proceed without any community consultation.
“We believe that this whole proposal is poorly thought out – and should not proceed at this stage. We urge Council to develop a Strategy that is put out on exhibition for public comment – and undertake community engagement with local neighbourhoods and interested stakeholders to assess the true social, environmental and economic value of these community assets.”
Voting to start selling of our public land were Councillors Bocking, Ward, Burke, MacFadyen, Bowles, Doyle and Strickson. Opposed to the proposal were Councillors Morris and Scott. Clr McKinna was not at the meeting.
Jane Smith, CEO, Community Environment Network – ph: 0439 853 646