A ‘Disgusting’ situation in lead up to Council elections
A retired barrister rumoured to be running for Council has warned of the 'absolutely disgusting' situation emerging in the lead up to the September Local Government elections.
Rumours have been circulating that Peter Wardman will stand for election to Coffs Harbour City Council.
"People have been asking me whether I am standing or not, but the answer is no. So the rumour has been scotched," Mr Wardman said.
He is concerned the divide over the Cultural and Civic Space threatens to hijack the elections.
"People considering for standing need to ensure they go into it with their eyes open, and not have a certain hobby horse."
In his mind, there is no doubt the controversial $76.5m CBD project will be that hobby horse.
"There is no question about that. It's a terrible situation, absolutely disgusting. Those on one side will get a lot of votes and those on the other side won't get many."
He has criticised the project and addressed a public meeting last year organised by previous Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser.
Mr Wardman is an active member of the group losely known as Citizens Voice which mobilised to start a petition against the Cultural and Civic Space which has been tabled in NSW Parliament.
"I'm not against everything in the Gordon Street project. Without exception we need a better library and museum but I don't think Gordon Street is good enough.
"Coffs Harbour needs a cultural precinct in an iconic location and that's why people have been pushing hard to see City Hill developed."
In response to rumours he would be running on a group ticket for The Nationals, Mr Wardman had this to say:
"I don't believe in party politics in local government."
Others, including Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce Martin Wells have warned the growing divide over the Cultural and Civic Space is out of control. His name has also come up as a potential candidate but he ruled it out when speaking to the Advocate recently.
"In meetings of recent times there has been a real degradation of respect and professional courtesy towards each other," Mr Wells said.
"That certainly is a commonality in people refusing to run. Why would you put yourself in that position when, I guess, you're going to open yourself up to an unprecedented barrage of unrestrained anger, accusations and defamatory comment."
Crs Sally Townley and deputy mayor Tegan Swan have declared their intention to run again while the remaining Councillors including Mayor Denise Knight say they are still undecided.
Mr Wardman believes Councillor fees in NSW are not enough to encourage quality candidates.
"It is a tough job and I admire everybody who stands.
"I would much sooner see someone in their 40s who has more energy than I have."