Council angers West Wallsend residents

West Wallsend residents were irate last night after a meeting held to consider a 404-lot development in their town was adjourned because of an administrative bungle.

About 70 people attended a meeting of the joint regional planning panel, which was considering a Lake Macquarie City Council staff recommendation to approve Hammersmith Management’s plan.

Panel chairman Garry Fielding adjourned the meeting because panel members had not received copies of submissions from more than 200 residents opposing the plan.

Mr Fielding said council staff had sent the submissions to the panel secretariat, but ‘‘for whatever reason the submissions weren’t provided to panel members’’.

A source said council staff sent the submissions on CD to the panel, but they were ‘‘lost in transit’’. The panel discovered the problem too late to postpone the meeting.

West Wallsend resident Annie Freer said residents were ‘‘extremely irate’’.

Seahampton resident Brian Adamthwaite said residents had spent time preparing speeches for the meeting and had ‘‘letter-boxed residents in the rain’’.

‘‘If the council can’t get basic housekeeping right, how reliable is their advice that the development should go ahead?’’ Mr Adamthwaite said.

Resident Bernard Griffin said the bungle would have cost thousands of dollars in costs to run and advertise the meeting and for staff time.

Residents were angry that many did not receive sufficient notice of last night’s meeting.

They said the panel was supposed to inform people who had made submissions to the plan seven days before the meeting, but some received notice only a few days ago.

Cr Jodie Harrison said she would ask council staff for an explanation.

‘‘It’s been a farce and it’s quite embarrassing,’’ Cr Harrison said.

Residents have run a campaign against the plan, with concerns about heritage and loss of a buffer and biodiversity.

A council report said the site was zoned to support housing.

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