Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Councillor Backflip over Shed; Community Supports Black Rocks

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Councillor Backflip over Shed; Community Supports Black Rocks

Article excerpt

Byline: Nikki Todd and Aisling Brennan

THE Men's Shed stalemate at Pottsville looks set to be resolved after Tweed Shire Councillor Reece Byrnes announced he would change his vote and support their licence to build a temporary home at Black Rocks oval.

The Labor councillor made the announcement on Thursday, confirming he had lodged a formal motion calling for a rescission of council's November 17 decision to defer the granting of a licence to the Pottsville and District Men's Shed at Black Rocks sportsfield.

Cr Byrnes' surprise call followed an intense community backlash against the council deferment, with a protest sticker campaign and petition by the Men's Shed gaining strong support, with almost 100 community members gathering on Wednesday at the oval for an impromptu show of support.

Cr Byrnes said his decision would "resolve the long standing community issue and deliver the Men's Shed for the Pottsville community".

"The Men's Shed needs a better location and at this current time Black Rocks is the only and best option," Cr Byrnes said.

"It is also vitally important that our precious koalas are protected and we have to work together to ensure that our local koala habitat is preserved."

Shed president Michael Ryan said he was "over the moon" to hear the decision.

"This will be a great relief to the Pottsville community to know this much-needed and supported community facility will go ahead," Mr Ryan said.

But Black Rocks resident David Norris, founder of the Threatened Species Conservation Society which has fought hard to stop development on the oval fearing its impact on the surrounding koala population, said he was devastated by the news and vowed to fight on.

"This is devastating news and a very sad day for our endangered koalas," Mr Norris said.

"It is unbelievable that Cr Byrnes' decision is based on all the misinformation that has been presented to and divided the community, and that (koala specialist) Dr Steve Phillips' advice to the Environmental Defenders Office that there is a strong likelihood of a significant impact on koalas if the Men's Shed at Black Rocks is to proceed, has been ignored. …

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