PROTESTORS agains the sale of the Maclean carpark enter council chambers in Maclean.
PROTESTORS agains the sale of the Maclean carpark enter council chambers in Maclean. Marsha Neville

Councillors say 'no' to carpark sale

RESIDENTS of Maclean will wake up this morning sure of two things. The Maclean carpark is not for sale and the debate is finally over.

After months of heated debate within the community, at last night's council meeting councillors Tiley, Hughes, Dinham, Comben and Howe voted down the rescission motion that called for the carpark debate to be re-opened.

Their actions have effectively closed the door on any plans the council had to sell or lease the carpark to developers for the construction of a full sized supermarket on the site.

“I just think democracy prevailed,” Bruce Apps of Maclean said following the decision.

Another Maclean resident at the meeting, Jean Everson was also pleased with the result.

“I'm very thankful that our local councillors stuck to their word from the November meeting,” Mrs Everson said.

“We're third generation in Maclean and we don't want public land sold in this town.”

But like all great debates, there could only be one winner.

The secretary of the Maclean Chamber of Commerce, Denise Worrill, left the meeting appalled at the result.

“I think it's ridiculous not to vote for a rescission motion and discuss the issue further,” Mrs Worrill said.

“They have just condemned this town to be a dying town.”

Warren Campbell, of the Argyle Hotel, said the councillors got it wrong because a lot of the community wanted the supermarket built in the carpark.

He believed the decision would close down businesses.

“History will show them that they have done the wrong thing,” Mr Campbell said.

“There will be businesses sold in Maclean after this decision.

“They'll just go.”

The gallery was full of supporters from both sides of the fence, some wearing t-shirts with slogans and others with signs asking for the land not to be sold.

The rescission motion had been scheduled for halfway through the agenda, but when the meeting began at 4pm Mayor Richie Williamson put it to the councillors to deal with the issue first up, and it was passed.

Over one hour all nine councillors chose to speak on the issue, beginning with Councillor Karen Toms, who initiated the rescission motion.

Cr Toms said since she voted against the sale of the land in November 2008 she had regretted her decision.

She said she did not feel like she was well enough informed on the issue when she voted against the sale and wanted to re-open the debate so all councillors could have access to all of the information at hand.

This argument was disputed by Cr Tiley, who said if any councillor did not feel fully briefed on the issue, they could and should have asked for an extension.

No councillors disputed the fact that Maclean needed a larger supermarket, the main point of contention was whether it should be built on public land.

“I can think of two to three other ways that don't include the carpark,” Cr Dinham said.

Several councillors mentioned Dale James' Boulevard site as a potential alternative for a supermarket, including Cr Simmons who disputed the site.

“I would be very surprised if a developer would build a supermarket there,” Cr Simmons said.

There were also concerns raised that the carpark debate was effecting town morale.

“There is no need to prolong a decision that has divided this community,” Cr Howe said.

Three months ago it was Crs Tiley, Hughes, Dinham, Howe and Toms who voted to save the carpark. Despite the re-shuffle yesterday, it was five councillors who stood by that original decision.


For the rescission :

Cr Karen Toms

Cr Margaret McKenna

Cr Jim Simmons

Cr Richie Williamson

Against the rescission:

Cr Ian Tiley

Cr Sue Hughes

Cr Pat Comben

Cr Craig Howe

Cr Ian Dinham

“They have just condemned this town to be a dying town.”

Denise Worrill, Maclean Chamber of Commerce Secretary

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