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Clarence Valley News

Green light for motel rooftop alcohol sales

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An aerial view of the rooftop of 2 Queen St Yamba, where council has agreed to allow the owner to sell alcohol to sell alcohol to patrons for limited hours three days a week. Image from property.com.au website.

Green light for motel rooftop alcohol sales

 

By Tim Howard

The objections of neighbours of a controversial motel development in Yamba have been overruled by a vote of Clarence Valley Council.

The owners of the motel at 2 Queen St Yamba put in proposal to modify its development consent to allow limited sales of alcohol from its rooftop.

Previously the owners had been restricted to allowing BYO alcohol consumption on the motel roof until 10pm.

The proposal, agreed to at the council meeting, allows alcohol sales on the rooftop from 4pm to 6pm on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

The proposal drew 17 submissions from the public, all against it.

Other businesses and residents believed it would create a noise problem for them and their patrons and would be hard to police effectively.

Others claimed restrictions on non-patrons drinking on the roof had been broken and others feared it opened the door for large-scale functions such as weddings with 100 plus in attendance.

Others pointed out a similar request during the DA stage had been refused and nothing had changed to warrant the backflip.

Cr Ian Tiley light-heartedly questioned how it would be possible to police the conditions in the modification.

“How the devil would we be able to effectively police a condition like this,” he said. “You’re gonna have to be there all night when they fall off the roof. Will the ranger need to take a drink with him?”

Three councillors, Jeff Smith, Debrah Novak and Greg Clancy were concerned enough from the submissions to vote against the proposal, but the other six were not convinced.

Cr Smith actually called the item so he could move it and vote against it.

“I’ve actually lived near one of these places 20 years ago, (and there were) all sorts of dramas,” he said.

“The recommendation admittedly is quite restrictive and good on them.

“I see issues potentially down the track. And as I said, just to acknowledge those 17 submissions against I’ll be voting against this motion.”

Cr Steve Pickering was initially in Cr Smith’s camp, but when he saw the details of the proposal, he changed his mind.

“We have to vote on what’s been presented to us today,” he said. “And the modification is to allow the sale of alcohol for two hours between 4pm and 6pm, three afternoons per week being Wednesday, I think Saturday or Friday or Saturday and Sunday, two weekends and a weekday.”

Cr Pickering said the zoning of the precinct persuaded him approval was the right way forward

“To allow the sale of alcohol in the afternoon, three days a week, isn’t a big ask, especially when the area is zoned a tourist tourism that’s not a residential zoned it is tourism zoned,” he said.

Cr Debrah Novak said the council had experience from making changes to consent conditions in Yamba’s CBD, that should make it cautious.

“It’s all very well to be able to put consent conditions in, but to enforce it is going to be the difficult part and I believe that by you know when this first came to council, it came as a motel it didn’t come as a hotel,” she said.

“My understanding to the facility doesn’t have food on site either. So they bring food in for guests.

“So for me, it just it’s a headache waiting to happen, so I won’t be supporting it at all.”

Cr Karen Toms was scathing of the objections to the development, saying they opened the council to a hearing in the Land and Environment Court.

“Wow. I’m quite flabbergasted by some of the arguments against this development modification” she said.

“Clearly they’re taking no notice at all of the EP and A Act. The power to modify a development consent is provided under Section 4.55 of the Environment Planning and Assessment Act.

An aerial view of the rooftop of 2 Queen St Yamba, where council has agreed to allow the owner to sell alcohol to sell alcohol to patrons for limited hours three days a week. Image from property.com.au website.

An aerial view of the rooftop of 2 Queen St Yamba, where council has agreed to allow the owner to sell alcohol to sell alcohol to patrons for limited hours three days a week. Image from property.com.au website.

That’s the legislation that our planners have to assess this on.”

She took aim at some of the issues other councillors raised.

“To hear Cr Smith saying no because of an experience he had 20 years ago is extraordinary,” Cr Toms said.

“I just can’t understand how you could use that and actually say that in a chamber as a reason for not supporting something that is clearly the officers recommendation and they’re the experts.”

She also took aim at Cr Novak’s claims council had been by other decisions to change consents in the CBD.

“It surprises me that Cr Novak brings up another business in Yamba and the issues about that and talks about it being a nightmare when it has nothing to do with it,” she said.

“That’s a noise issue and we need to ensure that when we make decisions, we don’t use other things.”

But Cr Clancy was not convinced the council should be so cowered by the threat of court action it became a rubber stamp for developers.
“We are the councillors who have to decide on this we take advice from the staff and the staff that their job in a professional manner,” he said.

“And even if modification is allowed under the Act, which it is, that doesn’t mean that we have to automatically rubber stamp everything that comes through.”

Cr Alison Whaites was more convinced by the economic arguments behind allowing the consent modification.

“For those two hours this business can be making money,” she said. “So they’re only drinking. I don’t understand what the difference is they’re only drinking alcohol.

“They could be partying and yahooing whatever they’re doing so that’s why can’t the applicant earn a little bit of money out of that, a few hours every week.”

In his right of reply Cr Smith expressed surprise at council’s willingness to dismiss lived experience in these matters.

“Yes, it’s true you can’t beat lived experience but let’s just put that aside,” he said.

“Yeah, there is there is drinking going on up there till 10 o’clock and as you can see by some of those submissions, if you’ve read them that it kicks on until 11 o’clock, there’s noise, there’s all sorts of drama that has been raised here.”

Cr Toms raised a point of order saying it was not permitted to use matters raised in submissions in debate, but Mayor Peter Johnstone overruled her.

Cr Smith said there were already issues and this modification did nothing to stop them, but might make it worse and put pressure on enforcement agencies like rangers and the police, whose resources were already stretched.

“It’d be lovely sitting up on top of the roof there overlooking the park and the Pacific Ocean, the cenotaph, there. Top spot,” he said.

“That said, like it’s already going on. And there’s already problems.

“It comes back to are we just creating another drama that we’ve got our rangers or police or neighbours that have gotta keep keep complaining about.

“It’s already going on? It’s just another drama that’s unnecessary in my opinion.”

Councillors voted 6-3 for the consent modification with Crs Smith, Clancy and Novak against.

 

For more Yamba news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News

Our Seniors Are Tops!

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Seniors Achievement Award

Our Seniors Are Tops!

 

State Member for Clarence Richie Williamson has shown his appreciation for the invaluable contributions of seniors in our community by presenting the inaugural Seniors Achievement Award in Lawrence today.

During this year’s Senior’s Week celebrations, Mr. Williamson called upon the community to nominate individuals and groups who exemplify dedication and commitment to enhancing the Richmond and Clarence valleys.

“I was thrilled to receive numerous nominations showcasing the remarkable efforts of seniors and senior’s groups,” Mr. Williamson said. “These individuals and organisations consistently go above and beyond, supporting various aspects of community life, from maintaining community halls to providing essential transport services.”

The first Seniors Achievement Award was awarded to Connect You Too, a not-for-profit community-based organisation dedicated to enhancing the lives of residents in the Clarence Valley. Connect You Too offers a vital range of services, including transportation for people of all ages, meal delivery in Iluka, Maclean, and Yamba, non-emergency medical transport, shopping excursions, and social outings. With a team of 60 volunteers and staff, Connect You Too plays a pivotal role in fostering community well-being.

“I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the board, volunteers, and staff of Connect You Too,” remarked Mr. Williamson. “Their outstanding commitment to serving seniors and the broader community is truly commendable, making them deserving recipients of this prestigious achievement award.”

Mr. Williamson anticipates presenting additional achievement awards across the Richmond and Clarence Valleys in the forthcoming weeks, further acknowledging the exceptional contributions of seniors and senior’s groups.

 

For more seniors news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News

Mayor to “eyeball” AG over courthouse hours cut

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Attorney General

Mayor to “eyeball” AG over courthouse hours cut

 

By Tim Howard

Clarence Valley mayor Peter Johnstone is brushing up on his diplomatic kung fu, after his fellow councillors voted to have him “eyeball” the NSW Attorney General over a state government decision to cut service hours at Maclean Courthouse.

At its March meeting, the council indicated it was not satisfied with the government’s response to a letter to the Attorney General, Michael Daley, in December 2023, advocating that face to face services at Maclean Courthouse, remain the same.

Instead the parliamentary secretary to the Attorney General, Hugh McDermott’s reply, indicated the cuts to services would remain.

“The Attorney General has asked me to respond on his behalf, Mr McDermott wrote.

“I’m informed that in May 2023, court services in the Department of Communities and justice initiated a change in the level of face to face service delivery at Maclean based on the low level of demand for this service.

“The service was reduced from five days per week to five days per month.”

Crs Debrah Novak and Ian Tiley combined to provide a motion to stiffen the council’s opposition to the decision.

After fine tuning of the wording, the council settled on the motion: That council:

  1. notes the report.
  2. makes direct representations to the NSW Attorney General, seeking support of the Member for

Clarence, Hon Richie Williamson, objecting most strongly to the service hours reductions at Maclean Court House, and the mayor seek to meet the minister to convey these concerns.

Cr Novak said the decision was clearly not in the interests of Clarence Valley people.

“We have the key issues here in front of us in black and white,” she said.

“So this motion now is to go back to the NSW Attorney General and the minister with Richie on one side, the mayor on the other side to the minister saying we’re not happy with what you’ve determined.

“What you think is in our best interest because at the end of the day, it is not in our LGAs best interest to have this service downgraded.

“It’s in the state government’s best interest because it’s a cost saving measure.”

Cr Tiley said the council had little to lose and a lot to gain.

“It’s a matter of great concern, especially to the people of the Lower Clarence, as Cr Novak has well articulated that yet another important service will be lost,” he said.

“Perhaps the next one’s Ulmarra Ferry if we meekly acquiesce on this. What next will we lose?”

The approach was not to the liking of all councillors, including unlikely allies on this matter, Crs Karen Toms and Greg Clancy.

Attorney General

Cr Debrah Novak is leading the charge to keep Maclean Courthouse open five days a week, moving that the council confronts the NSW Attorney General Michael Daley over plans to cut hours of service.

Cr Toms worried the motion made it seem the council was throwing a “tanty” when a ruling didn’t go its way.

“I find this a little interesting that we’ve actually been there done this,” she said.

“We’ve got a letter back which tells us the reasons, but we as the local government council have decided we don’t like the reasons and we’re going to have another go and we’re going to get up face to face with the Attorney General.”

Cr Clancy said he was more concerned that continued opposition was “pushing a snowball uphill”.

“Are we  just putting our finger in the dyke?” he said. “Because unfortunately, the modern world is moving in the direction of less face to face, more phone or internet connection.

“The response is fairly straightforward.

“And it’s to do with the demand and the cost of keeping it open when there’s no demand.

“It would be nice to keep everything opened forever. But I really think that we’ve taken this far enough.”

Other councillors showed more fight.

Cr Steve Pickering said cutting courthouse hours was just a start to further cuts.

“It’s to cut to cut the courthouse hours from five days a week to five days a month is the start,’ he said.

“Obviously, the next step will be zero days per month and then everybody in Yamba and Maclean will be traveling to Grafton to use the courthouse there, while it’s still open.

“Who knows? In two years time will we still going to have a courthouse in Grafton?

“Maybe we’ll be traveling to Coffs Harbour, but as a council we need to stand up for our community it’s not about having a tantrum.

“It’s about it’s about doing what our community would expect us to do.

“And when we receive a response that we’re not happy with, we need we need to challenge it.”

But Cr Alison Whaites disputed that Grafton could lose its courthouse, because of the presence of the new jail at near South Grafton.

“Because we’ve got Serco here and it’s busy every day I drive past and it’s packed,” she said.

‘So anyway, so I want to vote against his motion and I really don’t see the point of moving forward with this and the mayor going down and speaking to that person.”

Deputy mayor Jeff Smith said he supported the motion because he believe the community expected its leaders to fight for them.

“I was I was voted in to be an advocate for the community,” he said. “And  there’s often complaints around the LGA that are were very Grafton centric.

“Well, in this case, we’re fighting for something that’s in Maclean.

“And I’m sick of this valley losing out all the time. It loses out to Coffs and it loses out to Lismore and seems to lose out to Byron Bay constantly.

“Let’s just fight it. Let’s have another go.”

The mayor made a rare foray into debate, arguing the council needed to stand up for the region.

“I think we should go for it, shouldn’t we? he said. “I need to brush up on my martial arts skills.

“We should be fighting for our community and we need to fight for our community because otherwise we’ll be seen as a soft touch.”

Summing up, Cr Novak said in the past decade the region had lost many services to Coffs Harbour and Lismore.

“What that actually means to those people because we’ve lost those services, is people now have to travel,” she said.

“So there is a cost imposed to those people who need to access those services.

“We have a high rate of people who don’t have access to computers, who don’t have access or the skills to access computers. All that sort of stuff.

“That just pays puts the onus back on to the potential clients and I think that’s unfair.

“And and we just need to be out there fighting for what we believe is a service that should remain here in the Lower Clarence Valley.”

Council voted for the motion 6-3 with Crs Toms, Clancy and Whaites against.

 

For more local Clarence Valley news, click here.

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Alstonville News

Seniors encouraged to get moving this April Falls Month

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April Falls Month

Seniors encouraged to get moving this April Falls Month

 

Older Australians in Northern New South Wales are being encouraged to get physically active this April, to help build their strength and maintain their independence.

Better Balance for Fall Prevention is the theme of this year’s April Falls Month, an annual event held throughout April supported by the NSW Fall Prevention and Healthy Ageing Network to encourage older adults to become more active and reduce falls.

Locally, exercise and dance classes for people aged over 50 are underway in Alstonville, Casino, Grafton, Lismore, Tweed Heads, Wardell, Yamba and across the Northern Rivers.

Health Promotion Manager, Elayne Mitchell said staying physically active is the single most important thing we can do to stay independent as we age.

“As we get older, our bodies lose muscle strength and coordination, so the more active we remain, the better chance we have of maintaining our physical function,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Improving strength and balance in our legs allows us to complete regular daily activities more easily, including getting up and down stairs, in and out of cars, negotiating uneven surfaces and reducing the risk of falling.

“Older people benefit from regular tai chi, group exercise programs, gym sessions, community-based falls prevention programs such as Stepping On, or simple exercises at home to improve muscle strength and balance.

“Research has also shown that regular exercise can reduce falls in older people by 23 per cent, but slowly building up high-challenge balance exercises can increase the effects of exercise by up to 40 per cent.”

NNSWLHD is partnering with Rotary Clubs across the District to provide pop-up Falls Prevention Awareness information stalls, where you can find out about falls prevention and healthy ageing.

Locations

  • Friday 5 April, 10am-4pm, Lismore Square, Uralba and Brewster St, Lismore
  • Sunday 7 April, 8am-midday, Iluka-Woombah Community Markets, Middle Street, Woombah
  • Thursday 11 April, 9am-2pm, Alstonville Plaza, 93 Main St, Alstonville
  • Friday 12 April – Sunday 14 April, 9am – 3pm, Bunnings, 2 Bruxner Hwy, Lismore
  • Friday 12 April – Sunday 14 April, 9am – 3pm, Bunnings, River Street and Horizon Dr, West Ballina
  • Friday 19 April, 10am-4pm, Lismore Square, Uralba and Brewster St, Lismore

The Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) has collaborated with the NSW Fall Prevention and Healthy Ageing Network to produce a range of April Falls resources for patients, families, carers and health staff.

Fall Prevention information is also available on the CEC website.

To find local physical activity and healthy lifestyle programs, including fall prevention programs, visit the Active and Healthy exercise directory. Information and advice to support older adults to be more active is also available on the Active and Healthy website. This includes home-based exercise circuits designed for beginners to follow along at your own pace from the comfort of your own home.

 

For more seniors news, click here.

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