Ballina gym owner faces 'unfair' eviction by council
BALLINA Shire Council has admitted it has "no written record" of giving crucial information about a development application to a profoundly deaf Ballina businessman, who has now been threatened with eviction.
Scott Shoesmith, who has owned F45 Ballina for nearly three years, risks being forced to find a new location for his business due to his misunderstanding of information given to him verbally.
Following a complaint received by the council regarding parking outside Mr Shoesmith's business, an investigation was launched.
"In order for the gym to operate in this particular location, it has a certain car parking requirement," Ballina Shire Council's director of planning and environmental health Matthew Wood explained.
"There's not enough car parking spaces assigned to the current use there.
"Scott's response to that, which was the correct response, was to lodge a development application."
This DA was refused by council and Mr Shoesmith was given just six weeks to find an alternative location for his business.
Mr Wood said that council had been particularly conscious of Mr Shoesmith's disability, although Dr Elizabeth Shoesmith, Mr Shoesmith's wife, thought otherwise.
"Ballina Council's communication processes don't accommodate the needs for the deaf, and he is now being punished for this," Dr Shoesmith said.
"There is a big difference between what is fair or equal and what's equitable.
"Life is hard enough every single day for people with a disability, and by not providing an environment or services that accommodate their specific needs, we continue to exclude them and prevent them from fulfilling their potential and being part of the community."
Councillor Ben Smith said he believed the council had tried to be as fair and reasonable as possible.
"I think it's fair to acknowledge (being deaf is) a barrier, but I wouldn't necessarily say that it's a significant one.
"In this particular case, particularly with a lot of correspondence where we're talking about applications and processing substantial information, a lot of that involves obviously filling out forms and stuff that, for someone who's deaf, shouldn't be adversely affected by."
Mr Shoesmith has now been given to mid-October to lodge a new DA.