Democracy has failed, says residents’ group founder

Democracy on the Peninsula has failed.
That is the thrust of the response of Save Our Woy Woy residents group founder Mr Harvey McDougall to the Council approval of a townhouse complex in Farnell Rd, Woy Woy, on May 13.
He said that not one of the three ward councillors represented the residents’ views.
Submissions from the local community were ignored and the group was denied the opportunity to speak with council planning staff.
Emails from the group were left unanswered.
“We were regarded as unqualified persons who had no idea of what we were talking about,’’ Mr McDougall said.
If the community was to democratically govern its own affairs, Mr McDougall said “the culture needs to change in Council”.
“They need to do it for their people, not the intruders.
“We are the residents.”
The council should be servants of the community, which should be their main concern, and “not the developers”, he said.
He said the best councillor representation for the Peninsula would be independent people with no affiliation to any political parties and who lived in the ward they choose to represent.
He said council planning staff should be “telling the applicants what is needed instead of the other way around”.
They should not unquestioningly accept arguments that “it is only a minor change and it will improve the standard of the development”.
Mr McDougall said sitting in council meetings had been an eye-opening experience.
“You get to see similar things occur as what you see in our federal parliament,’’ he said.
“Sometimes, there are timid discussions and then other times they are full-on like spoilt brats: A total disgrace.’’
He said group members were dumbfounded with the Farnell Rd application, when “one of our Ward councillors moved the motion to give consent, and the seconder was another Ward councillor”.
“The argument they gave was that they did not want it to go to the Land and Environment Court because it costs too much money.”
Mr McDougall said the council should not allow itself to be put in that position in the first place.
“Fix it first before it goes too far. Isn’t that more practical?”
He feared that, without change, Woy Woy would turn into a miniature Sydney – just another overcrowded, chaotic town that wasn’t prepared with enough infrastructure in roads, transport, parking.
Mr McDougall said the members of Save Our Woy Woy had worked “tirelessly throughout the last 11-plus months’’ and the work would not stop.
“Our plans are to amalgamate with Residents for Responsible Ettalong Development and the Save Woy Woy Waterfront groups.
“With all of us together we can cover more issues and create more ways of mounting pressure where it is needed,’’ he said.
“We welcome new members who are committed to help us continue our fight against over-development before it’s too out of control.”

Media release, 21 May 2019
Harvey McDougall, Save Our Woy Woy

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