Storm brewing over modernist sculpture
IN the face of strong opposition Bellingen Shire Council has given the controversial Water Cloud sculpture the go ahead.
Protesters outside Chambers on Wednesday morning held signs aloft accusing council of "fudging the numbers" on the public consultation process; and warning the sculpture would be a "tourist repelling device".
When put to the vote only Councillor Steve Jenkins voted against it.
The remaining Clrs Steve Klipin, Garry Carter, Toni Wright-Turner along with Mayor Dominic King and Deputy Mayor Jennie Fenton all voted to approve the imposing modern sculpture in the heart of historic Dorrigo.
The Mayor and Deputy have both been contacted several times for comment but have not returned the Advocate's calls.
Described as a landmark piece of public art the Water Cloud sculpture, featuring programmable coloured lighting, will be suspended over poles on Hickory Street adjacent to the Dorrigo Hall.
Protester Glen Little says Council has no mandate to approve the proposal given approximately 89 per cent of the community is against it.
The first Council-led round of public consultation saw about 900 against the concept and only just over 100 for it.
A second round of consultation conducted by the proponent showed 177 for and 174 against.
"So even with a dubious survey conducted by the proponent there was only three votes in it, so Council simply doesn't have a mandate to approve this," Mr Little said.
"When a dubious plan is imposed, clearly against community wishes, it goes beyond being a generous gift to the community and becomes a facilitated act of self-interest and a view that the opinions of a minority are somehow more important than those of the wider population."
Water Cloud is being funded by an anonymous philanthropist.
Artist Stuart Green's design was selected by a panel including Bellingen Shire Council Mayor Dominic King.
Mr Little says Dorrigo's "self appointed upper class" have been pushing the concept.
"Some of the loudest drivers of the sculpture are relative newcomers to town but have taken it on themselves to decide what is best for Dorrigo.
"Those that questioned the actual benefit have been wrongly stigmatised by mean-spirits as not caring about the town's economy and therefore disrespecting the community."
Mr Little said he would take the matter up with the Minister of Local Government Shelley Hancock.