Need ‘big boys’ at the table to grow our airport says Mayor
We've got to the have the big boys with us at the table if we want Coffs Harbour to grow, says Mayor Denise Knight.
She was referring to the decision to move ahead with leasing the Coffs Harbour Airport to a private entity. The details are commercial in confidence and yet to be released to the public.
"I believe Council has done a great job with the airport bringing it forward to a point; but if you want to be in the game - manage more flights and have access to other airports whether internationally or interstate - we need to be at the table, and when we are talking with the big boys we have to have a big boy in there speaking for us."
An attempt by three Councillors to overturn the lease deal was defeated at an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday evening.
The meeting was delayed due to a bomb threat with council chambers evacuated and police called in.
FULL STORY: Mayor in chambers at time of bomb threat
Nothing suspicious was found and the meeting was able to proceed. Investigations are continuing.
Mayor Knight has reiterated the airport is not being sold off.
"There's been a lot of comments about losing it - we are not losing it, we are leasing it," Cr Knight said.
"The lessee will have to abide by an airtight contract and we will keep an eye on it, and if they do something wrong then we will address it."
Cr John Arkan was one of those against the lease and used the analogy of raising a child to support his argument.
"It's a long lease, it's bigger than my lifetime," Cr Arkan said.
"Big is not better, we can grow this airport - it's like growing a child, you don't hand the child over after you've worked on it."
But Cr Knight disagrees.
"It was mentioned last night that you rear a child and get it to a certain point and you don't let it go, but you do - you let it go to University and spread its wings.
"We've nurtured it and got it to a certain point and now it needs to grow. The community is growing - more and more people are moving here and the demand for services is greater."
The rescission motion was moved by Crs Paul Amos, Sally Townley and Tegan Swan.
It was lodged following last week's meeting where Councillors were tied four/four and Mayor Denise Knight used her casting vote to proceed with the lease.
But again the vote was a tie and this time there was no need for Mayor Knight to use her casting vote with the tie simply meaning the rescission motion lapsed.
Cr Swan took to social media in the lead up to the extraordinary vote saying she was supportive of the concept of leasing out the airport but just not based on the current arrangements and called for the public to comment on her post.
"I don't get frustrated with Cr Swan going on social media; that's what she does best, but at the end of the day discussions about this have been going on for three years so I don't know what else to say about that."