GM says no secret deals on Aussie surf titles

By MICHELLE DAY

BOAMBEE Beach is popular with four-wheel-drives and dog owners, but it has now been revealed as a favourite for the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships in Coffs Harbour from 2010 to 2012.

Coffs Harbour City Council general manager Stephen Sawtell yesterday said a report on the best location for the championships, originally planned for Park Beach, should be before the council by the end of April.

He was responding to claims by Jetty Action Group spokesperson Wayne Evans that Mr Sawtell and Mayor Keith Rhoades had been secretly negotiating with the Premier's Office about hosting the event at Boambee Beach.

Mr Evans said a bid to hold the championships at Boambee indicated Coffs Harbour City Council may have withheld information 'vital' to the Harbourside Project Concept Plan submission process.

He said it was of great concern that proposed infrastructure for the event, including the extension of Jordan Esplanade through Corambirra Point to join up with a new service road, would 'destroy' the dunal system along Boambee Beach, land which is culturally significant to the Gumbayngirr people.

According to Mr Sawtell, there was nothing clandestine happening.

"We have been in discussion with the State Government and Surf Life Saving Australia to say we don't believe Park Beach is the best location because of the danger of overnight storms ? thousands of tonnes of sand can disappear from that beach overnight," he said.

"It is all premature investigations to see what can be done, if anything. The saddest option would be, if we can't provide any venue, it would put the whole project at risk."

He said research into where the event will be held and where the funding will come from will be presented to the council, who would then make any decisions.

"If money is being spent it should be invested at the best location to secure long-term community gain."

However, Mr Evans said councillor update number 01/07-14 February, 2007, signed by Mr Sawtell, stated that the New South Wales Government supports the Boambee Beach location only.

Mr Sawtell said information was supplied to all the councillors and staff and was no secret.

"We just don't come out to the community discussing things that don't have any substance yet ? there is a whole approval process that has to be worked through."



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