VIDEO: Watch how council's rally vote unfolded

SIX for, two against. That's how councillors voted on sponsoring the World Rally Championships. Check out videos to see how it unfolded.

Cr Sally Townley asked "what message are we sending the ratepayers?"

She denied "making allegations" against the council's general manager, Steve McGrath, regarding his position at the council while at the same time sitting on the board of Rally Australia:

Cr Keith Rhoades locked horns with Cr John Arkan in response to Arkan's amendment to the motion:

Cr Garry Innes had the public gallery in applause after throwing his support behind the event:

Cr Mark Sultana spoke next. He said he's "not going to grandstand" on the issue.

After Cr Arkan's amendment was voted down, the motion headed for the vote:


8:28pm: ... And that wraps up the council meeting. Thanks for joining us tonight. 

8:26PM: Councillors power on with agenda with no recess

8:25PM: All councillors in favour of reporting back at the next meeting on May 26 with more information into alternative options for the entry into the Woolgoolga Beach Holiday Park. 

8:09PM: After back-and-forth debate, Cr Rhoades calls on the council to not use questions as an opportunity to debate. It's against the council's code of conduct, he warns. 

7:55PM:  Cr Sultana says turning bays and roundabouts risk parking - an important part of Woolgoolga's infrastructure.

7:36PM: Now, to the next item of business on the agenda: The Woolgoolga Beach Holiday Park.

The council is assessing further details and time frames of an investigation into a turning bay option on Wharf St to enter into the park.

7:32PM: Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker says he is "happy" with the outcome of tonight's decision by the council to support Rally Australia sponsorship.

Mr Hartsuyker was joined by the dozens of business persons and community members who cheered and applaused the councillors' decision.

The majority left the chambers after the motion was passed.

Luke Hartsuyker was front row in the public gallery.
Luke Hartsuyker was front row in the public gallery. Claudia Jambor

7:24PM: After a heated debate, Coffs Harbour City Council votes 6-2 in support of sponsorship to Rally Australia for the 2016/2017 events.

Councillors voting in support are: Mayor Denise Knight, Cr Arkan, Cr Degens, Cr Innes, Cr Rhoades and Cr Sultana.

Those against: Cr Nan Cowling and Cr Townley.

7:18pm:  Cr Arkan's three point amendment to the motion - that includes the sponsorship package for 2017 be no greater than the package for 2016 (indexed by the ordinary general rate peg) - is voted down 7-1.

7:15PM: Deputy Mayor Garry Innes fires up in response to Cr Townley's statement.

He accuses Cr Townley of "clutching at straws".

"It's about time we told the world tonight that you are welcome in Coffs Harbour no matter what the sport, in this case it's rally."

A loud "hear hear" echoes through the chamber.

7:12PM: Cr Townley says she would be happy to provide in-principle support for future World Rally Championships rounds on the Coffs Coast, but "wants to do it right".

She remains unsatisfied with governance arrangements, pointing to the council's general manager Steve McGrath who also sits on the Rally Australia board.

"I find it not to be the optimum arrangement. I think we can do better," Cr Townley said.

"I would like us to make a commitment to at least seek the actual financial info and explore governance options."

6:57PM: Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce president, George Cecato, cheers from the public gallery in support of Cr Rhoades - who is in support of securing the rally sponsorship.

6:49PM: Cr Keith Rhoades says New Zealand is mounting a challenge to take the rally away from Coffs Harbour. He urges fellow councillors to think about how beneficial the event is for the community.

6:40PM: Cr Townley expresses she is all for the rally but adds "we need to have it in the proper framework" in terms of governance.

She references a fact sheet from Rally Australia included in this week's agenda that includes little other than "26 fun facts about the Rally".

6:36PM: The Rally Australia sponsorship debate is underway.

6:23PM: The Cr Townley/Cowling amendment on the Duke St extension is lost. The council moves forward with the agenda to discuss its Rally sponsorship.

6:15PM: Cr Sultana questions the possibility of having the Duke St extension operating as temporary road in a six month trial period, before making it permanent.

"Lets do some real measurements... in terms of what its doing on the town's congestion and then make a decision," he said.

Director of Sustainable Infrastructure, Mick Raby, says the council would have to pay for it twice because temporary and permanent roads are built under different provisions.

Cr Townley questions if the council is saving money for something that may or may not happen in the next decade.

She reinforces her amendment and questions research into a permanent road's impact on existing koala population

5:57PM: Cr Cowling claims the Duke St extension through Pioneer Park is "a road to nowhere"

Claudia Jambor

5:55PM: Cr Townley/Cowling put forward amendment:

Claudia Jambor

5:43PM: Discussions underway for Pioneer Park and the Duke St extension.

Cr Townley questions the validity of building a permanent road through the park. 

5:30PM: Speaking before the start of the meeting, Cr Rodney Degens reaffirmed his support of the rally.

He said councillors who voted against sponsoring the event had come under pressure to change their position when it heads to a vote later tonight.

5:20PM: In discussion is Cr Mark Sultana's motion to close public pools when school swimming carnivals are taking place.

Ian Hogbin, in attendance with his mother, gives a public address on the motion - voicing concerns about closing the pool to the public.

Cr Sultana clarifies the motion. He says it will only affect schools with at least 800 enrolments.

Coffs Harbour War Memorial Olympic Pool would be closed from 9.30am to 2.30pm for no more than four days a year, he assures.

"It's four days of the calendar year (that pools would be closed) - I can't think of too many schools that have 800-plus enrolments," he said.

"What it's going to do is allow maximum participation from kids who want to swim and to feel a sense of achievement."

Cr Rhoades speaks against the motion.

"Not once in my 25 years on the council have I ever been approached by a school teacher or principal with an issue with swimming carnivals not being a success because of the public being allowed in at the same time," Cr Rhoades said.

"If council goes down this road of allowing the total closure of all public swimming pools we may find at (future) meetings...from additional schools for additional pools to be closed at school carnivals."

The motion carries. For: Cr Degens, Cr Nowling, Cr Sultana, Cr Townley, Cr Arkan. Cr Rhoads, Cr Innes, Cr Knight.

5.00PM: All councillors are present, the meeting has begun. 

The public gallery is full. People are also listening from the council's lobby.

Among those in attendance is Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker.

4.30PM: T-minus half an hour until the Coffs Harbour City Council meeting kicks off.

We will be reporting live from the council chambers covering all things Rally, Pioneer Park and plenty more.

For full details, go to the Coffs Harbour City Council April 28 meeting agenda.

You can also follow the decision on Twitter with #rallydecision bringing together the thoughts of a few while this important council meeting is held.

Enjoy the ride!

Sponsorship of the World Rally Championships is one of the more contentious items on the agenda.
Sponsorship of the World Rally Championships is one of the more contentious items on the agenda. Trevor Veale

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