Coopers Island Road is a public road that gives the only access to locals for fishing, prawning and kayaking on Bowns Creek, which connects Trunketabella Lake to the Tuross River. Everyone has enjoyed this lovely area for many years until the new owners put a gate across the road and a fence across the bank to the water.
This illegal gate and fence was erected in mid 2019, 2 years ago. The gate is illegal because it is a public road. The only permissible way to gate a public road is via a permit which would be issued by the Council but this has not been done. The Council were informed many times of the gate and the fence by the community. Yet strangely staff have not removed the gate and fence as per normal procedure.
When will this gate be removed? It is against the law to erect a gate across a public road. If the owner wants to legally put a gate up, they must apply for a Gate Permit. That requires not only an application but also community consultation. Only after an application is lodged and the community agrees to the erection can the gate be installed.
Why have Council staff not carried out their duties in this instance? I have the utmost respect for our Council staff which makes me curious about what directions they were given about this gate, and who they were getting directions from. I’m also curious about why the Minister for Transport, and our local member Andrew Constance has not appeared to have taken an interest in this matter. As Minister for Roads, he has ultimate responsibility for ensuring that public roads are accessible, and he has ultimate responsibility for ensuring illegal acts such as blocking a public road are dealt with. What has Minister Constance done with regard to this matter?.
To be frank, I don’t care who ordered who to do something or nothing. We know it was someone who cares little for the community. We know it shows yet again how little community opinion matters to these Councillors and this Mayor. We know the whole situation stinks like a bucket of old prawns we now can’t get from this area!
The community do not agree that this gate should be installed. The community do not agree to a fence prohibiting their access to a public waterway. The community are baffled, frustrated and downright angry at the lack of Council action on this very clear and simple matter.
Along with the Bay Pavilions creating a 25m pool in place of a perfectly good 50 metre pool, the bowling club site being sold privately, the tourist information centres being closed to name a few this is yet another major disappointment and huge let down for our Shire. Yet another embarrassing, sad outcome.
The councillors in front of us have a choice today. The report on Coopers Island road, provides them with the opportunity to show that they are in fact listening to the community they serve, and endorse option 2 of the report in front of them.
The community is watching you very carefully today, and will remember very clearly how you voted when they make decisions about who will sit around the Council table from September.
Please make this blatant disrespect of our community stop. Take the gate and the fence down, let our community have one small win just for once during this Council’s reign.