The motion to rescind the resolution that Central Coast Council made on November 27, 2017, to suspend works at Central Coast Airport and divert funds to other employment generating projects, has been lost for the second time.
The original resolution, which still stands, reallocated the balance of the $6m allocated in 2017, from the airport to an employment generating strategy for the north of the Coast.
Mayor Jane Smith said Council remained steadfast in its view that better value for money for residents would be found beyond the airport.
“Council must take the lead in advocating for its residents and making the right investment that will create the jobs the Coast needs now and as it continues to grow,” Mayor Smith said.
‘There are other options for employment generation projects beyond the Airport that can and must be explored,” she said.
“The time for debate on the airport is over.
“We now have our first ever Community Strategic Plan and the Operational Plan for the Coast and it is those Plans we must focus on delivering.
“That is our contract and promise to our community.”
There are no limits on the amount of times a rescission motion can be brought before Council, however the same motion can only be put up every three months.
The authors of the lost rescission motion were Clr Greg Best, Clr Jilly Pilon and Clr Bruce McLachlan.
President of Your Central Coast Airport Inc, Mr John Codrington, addressed the meeting in support of the rescission motion.
Mr Codrington said all 15 Councillors came to the election on the platform of transparency, openness and truth.
“In my world in relation to this rescission motion, the answer is no, there has been no openness or transparency from Councillors who are opposed to this item.
“What we have seen is clandestine meetings, gaggles of councillors and staff.”
Mr Codrington attempted to make personal remarks about an exchange of views between Clr Louise Greenaway and Mr Brian Glendenning who was, at the time, Acting CEO, but Mayor Jane Smith cautioned the speaker not to continue.
She then ruled out of order a question from Clr Best to Mr Codrington.
Clr Best then threatened “dissent” on that ruling before agreeing to speak to his motion.
“Here we are again,” Clr Best said.
“What we have got here tonight is a council not prepared to consult with its community.
“All I am seeking is consultation as the speaker asked, simple consultation.
“Other regions are growing their aviation hubs.
“Lismore to its credit has a 40-lot hangar subdivision on its books.
“What we are doing is stopping works.
“What we are doing is stopping any future works, shutting down the budget …we are spending a fortune on legal advice trying to dig our way out of areas we put ourselves in,” he said.
Clr Best said the masterplan he wanted placed on public exhibition had not been a political document, but had been put in place during Mr Ian Reynold’s time as Central Coast Council administrator.
However, business papers and minutes from the former Wyong Council indicate the masterplan was put in place by a narrow majority vote of that Council in confidential session in October, 2015.
At that time, Wyong Council voted to proceed with the airport at Warnervale via the Central Coast Regional Airport Investigation and Cost Benefit Analysis.
That document, which was never released to the community, was a precursor of the $450,000 master plan, commissioned by staff under Mr Reynolds, that was presented to the newly-elected Central Coast Council in October.
As a Wyong Councillor, Clr Best had many opportunities to consult the community about the future plans for the airport but had voted to keep the matter confidential.
Clr Jilly Pilon, also speaking as an author of the latest rescission motion, quoted from a survey that had shown 80 per cent support for an expanded airport.
She omitted to tell the meeting the survey was conducted in 2013 and a later survey had shown 50 per cent support.
Clr Bruce McLachlan, the third author of the rescission motion, said: “The bottom line is the airport is owned by the residents and the previous Council and Mayor were heavily criticised for not releasing documents, yet the people who made the most allegations then are not supporting the release of the documents.”
Clr McLachlan asked Council’s new CEO, Mr Gary Murphy, if he had ever seen a major infrastructure master plan not recommended for exhibition.
A request Mayor Smith ruled out of order.
“The fact is, staff want an exhibition and we are constantly mothballing this in secrecy…let the public have their say.”
Clr Jeff Sundstrom then spoke against the rescission motion.
“We have been here so many times before,” Clr Sundstrom said.
“Clr Best has said he will bring this back time and time again and I think that indicates the motivation is vexatious and I don’t think we should countenance that,” he said before being ruled out of order bt the Mayor.
The rescission motion was lost eight votes to six.
Those who voted in favour of the rescission motion were Clr Troy Marquart, Deputy Mayor Chris Holstein, Clr Rebecca Gale Collins, Clr Jilly Pilon, Clr Bruce McLachlan and Clr Greg Best.
Those who voted against the rescission motion were Clr Richard Mehrtens, Clr Jeff Sundstrom, Mayor Jane Smith, Clr Lisa Matthews, Clr Kyle MacGregor, Clr Louise Greenaway, Clr Doug Vincent and Clr Jillian Hogan.
Clr Chris Burke was absent.
Media release, Jul 9
Central Coast Council media
Agenda item 8.1, Jul 9
Central Coast Council ordinary meeting
Jackie Pearson, journalist