The council has deferred its decision on a 20-year strategic plan.
The council has deferred its decision on a 20-year strategic plan. Doug Eaton

20-year plan for village 'falls short', says residents group

COUNCILLORS will receive a briefing on a key strategy for a Northern Rivers community.

A report that followed community consultation on the Wollongbar Strategic Plan went before Ballina Shire Council's ordinary meeting on Thursday.

Marilyn Perkins from the Wollongbar Progress Association addressed the council with a number of concerns about the report.

"We feel this strategic plan falls short of being a positive strategy for the next 20 years for our area,” she said.

She asked for a number of proposed "actions” in the plan be removed, including those which suggested any possible incursion into the buffer between Wollongbar and Alstonville.

Cr Ben Smith said many families were "keen to see other employment opportunities” arise in the town and he felt the potential growth of the Russelton industrial estate could help to make this happen.

Cr Sharon Parry said she felt they were "overlooking something very important” in the plan.

"I do have some concerns about the extent to which this is a valid strategic plan,” she said.

"This is a 20 year plan for Wollongbar.

"On several matters ... there is no clarity.”

"I think we need some more time to consider (it),” Cr Parry said.

"I think it would be remiss of this council to pass this as it is.”

Cr Parry moved that they defer the matter to a briefing, and this was backed by Cr Eoin Johnston.

This was eventually carried in a 7-3 vote, with mayor David Wright, Cr Smith and Cr Phil Meehan opposing it.

Cr Keith Williams said there were "clearly still some issues (they) need to work through”.

Cr Smith said there'd been a "massive consultation” over the past two years and argued deferring the matter was to be "completely ignorant of the process that's occurred”.

The council's manager for strategic planning Matthew Wood explained an incident in which one person appeared to have responded to the community survey 184 times, skewing the results, had been resolved so they had a "clean data set” and Cr Wright said the fact this happened at all was "scandalous”.