Local residents at the recent rally at Suffolk Park
Local residents at the recent rally at Suffolk Park Deb Milgate

Hey state government, can we have that land for free?

THE mayor of Byron Shire Council has spoken again in support of a block of land at Suffolk Park remaining accessible for use by the community - but they need the price of the land either lowered or completely removed to do so.

Following a recent rally by Suffolk Park residents to stop the sale of their village green in Beech Dr, Council confirmed the land should be secured for community uses, but mayor Simon Richardson stopped short of promising council would buy the land out of Section 94 funds.

Instead he expects the land to be gifted to the community by the state government.

Cr Richardson, in a new filmed interview by the Bakery Media Production, called for the community stand up for the cause.

"We had a unanimous vote to support the community and try to purchase it and to tell the government that we don't want this flogged off just for a residential subdivision, that we want this to remain in community hands for open space and so therefore we directed the General Manager to start negotiations for a purchase," Cr Richardson said.

"We have since found that the evaluation that we had done on the land showed that it was about three times as expensive as what we thought, which was a real blow for us financially because we just do not have that money.

"If the state government basically hold the line and say 'we will sell it at independantly valued price', we can't afford it.

"So what we really need now is for the community to let the state government know that what happened a couple of weeks ago was the tip of the iceberg if they don't negotiate in good faith with the community.

"Bottom line is, we have a set pool of funds and every cent that we use from that pool to the purchase is less money for activating this site.

"So if we use every last cent we have available for the site, what we see now is what we'll have in perpetuity, however if the community stand up and speak directly and powerfully to the government, and they for example gift it to us, that means we've got over a million dollars to put onto this land in any way possible.

"So we need the residents of Suffolk Park to think 'Wow, what would we love this space to be?'

"This is not just about buyign a piece of grass that we can mow, it's about buying a open space that we can use.

"It's not going to be like a Bently or a CSG thing where we're going to be asking people to commit half their lives to make this happen - this is going to be short, sharp, powerful, and either successful or not successful very quickly.

"So this is about in the next week or two, the community to go as hard as they can, to put as much pressure as they can, and I think we need to see it as every bit of pressure is going to lower the asking price.

"If we get to a gifting, you know, a zero amount, that's fantastic, but if we get to an amount that's within our means and allows us to enhance the space, I think we'll all take that as a great victory.

"I think one of the things I guess we need to break down is some of those barriers we have in our minds about contacting parlimentarians.

"It's not as onerous as what we think.

"There's secretaries there, there's people there, they expect and are used to people from the community calling up to present their point of view.

"So it's literally as easy as picking up the phone, calling that number and saying 'I'm a resident of Suffolk Park, I want the Minister of Education to be aware that to get my support he needs to gift this community land back to the community. That was are looking at it and we are expecting it'.

"It can take two minutes of your time.

"Please don't underestimate the power of a phone call. Please don't underestimate the power of gathering a few friends together and making some pitch.

"We need the community to - as one, mass, powerful body - to make sure the Minister in Maquarie Street hears very clearly and very loudly, and then we're a chance."

Follow Suffolk Park Progress Association on Facebook for regular updates.

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