Lake Council attacked over garden

GROWING SAGA: A Lake Macquarie City Council meeting in May where supporters and opponents of the Bunya Park community garden presented their views.  - Picture by Anita Jones
GROWING SAGA: A Lake Macquarie City Council meeting in May where supporters and opponents of the Bunya Park community garden presented their views. - Picture by Anita Jones

A Warners Bay community group has accused Lake Macquarie City Council of maladministration and intentionally stalling its plan for a community garden.

The Warners Bay Community Group convener, Ben Henley, sent a formal complaint to councillors and general manager Brian Bell yesterday.

The complaint, which the group’s 12 committee members signed, provoked a heated debate among councillors at a meeting last night.

The complaint singled out mayor Greg Piper and deputy mayor Kay Fraser for criticism.

It said the pair had not given the group a ‘‘single valid reason’’ for the council’s rejection of Bunya Park, Eleebana, as a site for their community garden.

Cr Piper and Cr Fraser rejected the claim, with the mayor saying it was offensive.

‘‘Much of what is alleged in the formal complaint is clearly incorrect,’’ Cr Piper said.

Councillors shelved the garden plan in May following concern from residents and a landcare group.

They directed council staff to examine other sites in the city and not approve Bunya Park for a community garden until further analysis was done.

‘‘The decision we made was the right one,’’ Cr Fraser said.

Garden group members said it had been three months since that decision and they were disappointed it had not advanced.

They said the council had already done ‘‘14 months of analysis’’.

The group fears council delays will cost it a $52,000 state grant, which it says must be used by December.

Cr Phillipa Parsons accused councillors, who voted against the plan, of ‘‘caving in to a vocal minority’’.

Cr Piper dismissed the claim and said council staff had advised the garden group that the assessment process would take a further six to eight weeks.