Greenies ‘skewed’ Spit survey results
THE Gold Coast City Council is launching an investigation to determine the 10-year costs for upgrading The Spit.
But community groups fear the financial details will be kept secret.
The release of sections of a report discussed by councillors in a closed session shows council will forecast capital, operating and maintenance costs for The Spit across the next decade.
In a controversial finding, the council officer's report suggests surveying for The Spit masterplan may have been "skewed" by environmentalists.
Community groups are furious and want councillors to debate in open session.
Only 433 people had responded to a March online survey, The Spit update report said.
Save Our Spit had published an analysis of the draft master plan and GECKO offered similar advice in a newsletter making it "unlikely that the online survey results are an accurate reflection of the broader community sentiment".
Pop-up sessions, during which 929 people attended, offered a more balanced view on council's planned offshore cruise ship terminal (CST) at The Spit's Philip Park with "at least as many people voicing support for the project as people speaking against the project".
Consultants said the three rounds of surveying and sessions found "stronger support for outcomes based on green ideas" and less support for a light rail spur line or CST.
In a finding which shows tensions between council and government, the report suggests Labor made many changes to the masterplan after receiving comments from Coast officers.
Council considered the draft masterplan "appeared to offer limited opportunities to attract tourism investment and generate jobs".
Council officers determined their own figures, but those findings are not being made public.
GECKO spokeswoman Lois Levy said most people supported the masterplan but there had been opposition to council's offshore cruise ship terminal.
"One of the major problems with this council is the lack of transparency," she said. "You have to ask what are they hiding. One wonders why we have to have all these closed meetings."
A council spokeswoman said: "The Spit masterplan reports will continue to remain confidential and redacted copies made available to the public through the normal process, as deemed by the CEO, following council meetings."
The council is to contribute $35 million to The Spit upgrade, and $14.7 million was set aside in the current budget for the expansion of Sundale Bridge to five lanes.
Save Our Spit vice-president Darren Crawford said it was "ridiculous" to claim local groups had hijacked the consultation process when council called for community feedback.
He said Mayor Tom Tate was maintaining the CST would be built at no cost to the ratepayer yet council continued to spend money on reports hidden due to commercial in confidence.
"If this project is so viable why are no private investors stepping forward?" he said.