WILL BREAK DOWN NATURALLY WHEN YOU ARE DONE WITH ME The Byron Shire Echo • Volume 37 #09 • August 10, 2022 • www.echo.net.au
Secrecy surrounds govt’s Reconstruction Corp Hans Lovejoy
Developer sparks storage stress Local business woman, Lesley Berry, is one of many shed renters having to pack up and move after receiving seven days’ notice. She says some customers didn’t receive a notice. Photo Jeff ‘Stuffed & Stored’ Dawson Hans Lovejoy Byron-based property owner/developer, Josh Thompson, has created a shitstorm within the community after trying to evict customers renting 160 units at his ACE storage facility within a week, to make way for 26 warehouses. The sheds are located on the corner of Centennial Circuit and Tasman Way in the Byron Arts and Industry Estate. Long-time local business woman, Lesley Berry, told The Echo she had rented three sheds for years, and the eviction affects many people, some of whom are possibly flood-affected, or aren’t able to move their possessions straight away. ‘There are no storage sheds anywhere close by’, she said. ‘This is heartbreaking – I know of a single mum leaving for London this week with one of the storage sheds. It’s a disgrace’.
There will be scones – CWA turns 100! ▶ p3
When The Echo asked Mr Thompson why he wouldn’t extend the eviction notice, Thompson replied via a public relations (PR) consultant. Titled Local firm announces work start for high-demand business warehouses, the press release framed the evicition in a positive light, and explained that customers had been advised since March, via his property managers, that ‘the current facility will be shut down in the middle of this year’. Yet that statement is at odds with accounts from customers who contacted The Echo. They said signage for the DA was located at the back of the property, which was rarely used. And while the seven-day eviction demand was initially issued to his customers, Mr Thompson said via his PR consultant: ‘We are working with individual tenants who make contact and need assistance or additional time to vacate’.
In the same statement, Mr Thompson’s PR advisor said his demolition contractor was only available from the beginning of August, and as such, ‘it was critical to agree to this schedule and notify the storage tenants immediately’.
Suprising claims When asked why Mr Thompson withdraw his DA (10.2021.735.1), he replied via his PR consultant it was at the request of Council, ‘who were under-resourced and had a 12-month backlog of applications’. It’s a claim that has appears to have surprised Shannon Burt, Director Sustainable Environment and Economy. Ms Burt told The Echo, ‘It is highly unlikely (and not usual) a staff member would tell an applicant to withdraw a DA because Council is under-resourced and there is a backlog of DAs’. ▶ Continued on page 4
Bruns underground car park reconsidered ▶ p6
Echo questions remain unanswered around the advisory board appointments for the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation (NRRC), which the NSW government says will help with ‘rebuilding floodaffected Northern Rivers’. The advisory board announcement last week is the first indication that the government body has achieved something, after it came into operation more than a month ago on July 1. Like the embattled Resilience NSW, NRRC was established under the Premier’s Department, and as such, avoids public and government committee scrutiny.
Who was appointed to the advisory board? Of the eight ‘local and technical experts’ appointed to NRRC, only two are women. A political figure, Ballina Mayor, Sharon Cadwallader is one of those locals. Cadwallader was chosen for her role as Chair of Northern Rivers Joint Organisation (NRJO), yet was pictured with Nationals candidate Kimberly Hone in political campaign material for the 2022 federal election. The Echo understands Nationals supporters handed out How to Vote cards for Cadwallader during the 2021 Council campaign. Other board members are Gary Barnes (Chair, Secretary, Department Regional NSW); Michael Cassel, (Secretary, Department of Planning and Environment); Peter Duncan (Commissioner and Deputy Chair, NSW Independent Planning Commission
Bye bye to the cute froggies on Prince St ▶ p12
and former CEO of Roads and Maritime Services); Andrew Hall (CEO Insurance Council of Australia); Darren Kershaw (Executive Chair, North Coast Aboriginal Development Alliance); Jane Laverty (Regional Director Northern Rivers, Business NSW); Michael Rayner (Former General Manager Tweed Shire Council 2006–2011, Technical Expert). NRRC is headed by former Local Land Services chief, David Witherdin. The Echo asked Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, Paul Toole, ‘Why a political figure was chosen for the board’, and ‘Who chose these people?’. Other unanswered Echo questions put to the minister include: ‘Is there remuneration for this advisory role? If so, what is it per annum?’ ‘Can you supply the brief that was given to the board with regards to expected aims and outcomes? ‘Do you expect this advisory board to have no influence on NRRC decisions given “advisory” indicates no influence with final decisions?’ The Echo also asked, ‘How will the deputy premier ensure that NRRC integrity is improved in light of the potential collapse and criticisms of Resilience NSW? Would Mr Toole consider moving this corporation into a government department for example, to provide more transparency and accountability?’ A spokesperson for Mr Toole replied with statements previously given in the initial media release: ‘The Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation (NRRC) is a statutory corporation created by the NSW Government to coordinate the ▶ Continued on page 2
Fine tunes at Bangalow Music Festival ▶ p24