Kyogle Council August meeting: MPS needs a healthy injection

The Bonalbo MPS.

Susanna Freymark

Here is a summary of the Kyogle Council meeting on Monday, August 14.

Hospital is lacking

Councillor Danielle Mulholland brought up the issues around the Bonalbo Multi Purpose Service.

The community of Bonalbo was over the moon when the MPS was opened in 2018, she said.

The issue now was the under-utilisation of the Bonalbo MPS.

“They were promised two doctors, they have one,” Ms Mulholland said.

“There’s a $100,000 X-ray machine that no one can operate.

Many services women need aren’t available, she said.

“Without the health service, it is a disincentive for people moving into the area.”

It was agreed by the meeting to write to ministers to review health services at the Bonalbo MPS and to provide adequate funding and staffing.

Dangerous road

Councillor James Murray talked about how dangerous the Yabbra Road is.

“Especially the corner on the northern side of South Yabbra Road with trucks passing,” he said.

He wanted council to write to relevant ministers and departmental staff to get a special exemption to allow the widening and straightening of dangerous sections of the Clarence Way through Yabbra State Forest.

Councillor Tom Cooper agreed with Mr Murray.

“The Yabbra part – you take your heart in your mouth going through there,” he said.

“It needs a spot where tourists can stop, they are mesmerised by the trees there.”

Councillor Rob Cullen said he had driven the road and it was “incredibly narrow”.

Ms Mulholland said she had driven the road for over 10 years.

“If a truck comes towards you, it is quite frightening,” she said.

No matter the state of the road, it was always about money.

Council’s general manager Graham Kennett said the current funding would not cover this work.

“This would have to be a future option,” Mr Kennett said.

“We need approval to cut through state forest,” he said.

“But we won’t be seeing it in the current state of works.”

Mr Murray suggested Blackspot Funding.

Councillors agreed to at least write to ministers about the road.

Using renewables

Mr Murray asked a question before the meeting so council staff could answer it at the meeting.

The question was: As the push for renewables progresses, council will face increased pressure on waste resources due to limited life of solar panels and batteries. What strategies are being implemented to deal with this?

Here’s a summary of the answer from council staff.

“The great news is that solar panels are made almost completely out of glass, plastic and aluminium – three materials that are highly and easily recyclable. It gets a bit complex in that the materials need to be meticulously separated, but advanced machinery is making that process easier and easier. The claims that solar panels cannot be recycled is one of the many myths about renewables and waste doing the rounds. A myth busting brief on this subject is included in the attachments to this report.

“Lithium-ion batteries are 95% recyclable. In fact, the metals used in lithium-ion applications, such as lithium, nickel and cobalt, hold their value well beyond the life of the battery, allowing recycling facilities to reclaim these materials.

“As such, there is no increased pressure on waste resources expected to result from the push for renewables.”

There was a lot more about waste management. Read the report here.

A saleyard in Kyogle

Mr Murray asked what restrictions would council have on the building of a saleyard complex in Kyogle Shire.

The response was a formal answer about the Kyogle Local Environmental Plan 2012 and land use and didn’t give an answer either way.

How does council invest its money?

The monthly financial report elicited a discussion about how and where council invests its money.

Councillor Maggie May was at the meeting via video. She asked if the council was still investing with the Commonwealth or National banks.

Both banks invest in fossil fuels, she said.

Ms May is part of the Climate Change Group, which suggested council invests with SunCorp as it was on the ethical list.

Ms May wanted to make an immediate motion that council review its investment policy and invest no more than 2% of funds in institutions that “continue to feed fossil fuels”.

Mr Kennett said council followed NSW guidelines investing money.

“It is public money,” he said.

Ms Mulholland said she’d like to see a change in how the council invests before some of the maturity dates of the deposits in the financial report.

Ms Thomas said it would require a workshop and a draft policy to go to public review before a change could be made.

Executive manager corporate services Marcus Schintler said it would take until the September meeting.

“We need to discuss the matter properly,” he said.

Mr Kennett said there were “a couple of things at play”.

“We don’t have a policy that says we must not invest with certain people.

Council invests in triple-A rated institutions, he said.

“We do our best in ethical, moral investments.”

Land rezoning

All councillors voted to amend the Kyogle Local Environmental Plan 2012 to enable changes to the Anzac Drive, Geneva housing development.

The land will be rezoned from production to general residential so lots of 500 square metres can be used for housing there.

Planning and environmental services director Chris White said the Geneva site was “inherently suitable for the 50-plus but it is subject to the DA process and the market will determine how it is used”.

Confidential discussions

The council meeting was temporarily closed to the public and media as councillors discussed Code of Conduct matters relating to Mr Murray and Mr Cooper.

The Clarence Way Woodenbong to Urbenville roadworks were discussed but as it was a legal matter update, that too was in confidence.

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