Anger surfaces in van park saga

Cabarita business owners Shaun Priest, Mark Howlett, Nev Collie, Mary Collie, Lara Howlett and Hayley Steel.
Cabarita business owners Shaun Priest, Mark Howlett, Nev Collie, Mary Collie, Lara Howlett and Hayley Steel. Blainey Woodham

A COMMUNITY survey which has prompted more than 700 responses from residents of Cabarita Beach and nearby areas has rankled local business people who say it is misleading and biased.

The business people are backing up their criticisms of the survey, which was sparked by controversial plans by Tweed Shire Council and the NSW Government for a huge caravan park on prime beachfront crown land, with a leaked letter from Tweed Shire Council.

That in turn has infuriated the Cabarita Beach/Bogangar Residents’ Association which yesterday called for a full government inquiry into the plans for the caravan park and associated real estate subdivision, accusing the council of “morally corrupt behaviour” and trying to undermine their community survey.

Cabarita Beach Elders Real Estate principal Mark Howlett said the association had been doing “a very, very good job” opposing the planned caravan park and housing subdivision but said the survey sent out to all residents earlier this month was “very, very biased”.

He backed up his concerns with a copy of a letter written to the association by council general manager Mike Rayner revealing the council employed Sydney-based Woolcott Research to provide a “critique” of the survey.

The 10-page report by Woolcott Research pulls apart the survey, slamming its methods and the way questions are written.

Residents’ Association spokesman Ashley Baldry said the leaking of the letter was “a politically-motivated stunt to discredit a recent community survey conducted by Griffith University researcher, Dr Kerrie Foxwell-Norton”.

“It is extremely disturbing that correspondence between the general manager of Tweed Shire Council and the secretary of our residents’ association has come into the possession of a Cabarita businessman and then been passed on to the local newspaper.”

A council spokeswoman said a similar letter was sent to Griffith University but “the organisation did not release this letter to any other party”.

Topics:  cabarita beach tweed shire council

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