NEWS THAT MATTERS

Community land exhibition

must be extended

Central Coast Council has told residents that its exhibition of a generic plan of management covering community land is a simple housekeeping exercise, but the Community Environment Network (CEN) has discovered the council does not exactly have its house in order.

20 January 2023

 

AFTER discovering that Council doesn't have its house in order in respect of community land, CEN Chair Mr Gary Chestnut said, “We started work on our submission on the exhibited draft plan of management covering council-owned community land only to discover that half the community had less access to information than the other half."

 

“Council in its wisdom had created a page of simple links to all existing Plans of Management for community land so residents could easily compare the new draft plan with what has been in place in the past and currently determines how community land is managed,” Mr Chestnut said.

 

“At first glance that looked commendable but then we discovered the playing field was far from level. If you lived in the former Wyong Shire Council part of the Central Coast Council LGA all the existing plans of management were available.

 

“That was not the case for residents living in the former Gosford City Council area. Those people were told that if they wanted access to existing plans of management, they would have to make an informal application through the Government Information Public Access (GIPA) laws.

 

“Quite frankly we could not believe what we were seeing: how could the council justify giving immediate access to information to only half its residents and ratepayers while expecting the other half to go through an application process.

 

“That was particularly the case when the Council’s own informal GIPA application form noted that it did not have to respond to a request for information and, if it did, there was no set timeframe for responding.”

 

Mr Chestnut said CEN immediately wrote to Council’s CEO, Mr David Farmer, “to bring this inequity to his urgent attention”.

 

“Fortunately, Central Coast Council did respond quickly to our concerns and now the plans of management are available for all residents of the Central Coast local government area.

 

“We’re thankful this problem has been fixed but we question why it occurred in the first place. We also believe that Central Coast Council must extend the exhibition period by the number of days that residents in the Coast’s southern areas didn’t have access to existing community land plans of management.

 

“This would be an act of good faith and would reassure residents in the southern half of the LGA that Central Coast Council doesn’t consider them to be second-class citizens,” Mr Chestnut said.

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