Billboard pokes fun at Whitebridge development row

NOT ABOUT POLITICS: Greens member Phillipa Parsons and Whitebridge Community Alliance spokesman Sean Brown.  Picture: Phil Hearne
NOT ABOUT POLITICS: Greens member Phillipa Parsons and Whitebridge Community Alliance spokesman Sean Brown. Picture: Phil Hearne

A CARTOON billboard has been erected at Whitebridge lampooning a battle between a developer and residents over a $23million development planned in the suburb.

The billboard depicts businessman Hilton Grugeon winning the ‘‘Fernleigh Track Race 7 Future Whitebridge Cup’’, throwing money in the air and sporting a big grin.

A Whitebridge Community Alliance member holding a ‘‘vocal minority’’ sign and Greens member Phillipa Parsons follow Mr Grugeon on a smaller horse and a donkey.

In the background, two protesters are chained to a tree and two Lake Macquarie City Council officials are represented as bookies.

Mr Grugeon said ‘‘some of the boys at SNL’’ erected the billboard because they were ‘‘sick of being pilloried.’’ He part-owns SNL, the construction company behind the Whitebridge medium-density unit project.

‘‘I knew nothing about it until it was a fait accompli,’’ Mr Grugeon said of the cartoon.

‘‘The SNL guys were afraid I might veto it – I just laughed at it.

‘‘A community that can’t laugh at itself has problems.’’

Ms Parsons, who is also a Whitebridge Community Alliance member, said the developers ‘‘seem to be attempting to simplify the issue’’.

‘‘They’re trying to reduce it to politics. It’s not about that, it’s about the community wanting what’s right for Whitebridge.

‘‘More than 1000 people signed a petition and 400 people made written submissions opposing the plan in its current form.’’

Alliance spokesman Sean Brown said he ‘‘finds it amusing they can’t argue the facts and have to put up a billboard making fun of the situation’’.

SNL town planner Wade Morris said the billboard was ‘‘a pictorial narrative of the process so far’’.

Mr Morris said artist Judy Nadin, who won the Bald Archy Prize this year, did the drawing.

‘‘She did a great job,’’ Mr Morris said, adding it didn’t cost ‘‘too much’’.

Mr Grugeon said he was disappointed they didn’t ask Newcastle Herald cartoonist Peter Lewis ‘‘because he could have put his little dog in there’’.

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