Planning Minister Tony Kelly Wrong Again
Cessnock Greens Councillor James Ryan says Planning Minister Kelly is wrong to say the latest figures justify his taking away of Cessnocks planning powers, the Planning Panel is taking longer to assess Development Applications than Councillors did.
‘Minister Kelly acted out of political motivation when he took away Councils planning power after a campaign by Labor Party Councillors and Kerry Hickey.’ said Clr James Ryan.
‘What the report really shows is that Cessnock Council is now more efficient than it was under the previous Labor majority and Mayor, and there is a clear trend of continuing improvement. The figures show that Cessnock Council is the seventh most efficient Council in NSW in processing 135 Development Applications per staff member. While Maitland Councl have more Assessment Staff than Cessnock, our staff assess more applications per person.’ said Councillor Ryan.
‘Clearly any reasonable person would be compare apples with apples.’ said Clr Ryan ‘Equally clearly Cessnock is very different from Maitland. Approx. 70% of Cessnock LGA is covered with bush and we have to refer DAs to the Rural Fire Service for Bushfire Risk Assessments, Maitland has 6% of its area still bushland and clearly assessing bushfire risk does not take them long.’‘A similar story applies with mine subsidence.’
‘Does the Minister want Cessnock Council to stop ensuring houses are safe from bushfire or mine subsidence?’ Clr Ryan asked. ‘It is very disappointing the Minister chose not to compare apples with apples.’
Clr Ryan said the Cessnock Planning Panel was determining approx 8% of DAs when Councillors only determined 2.8% and therefore there would be longer average times with the Panel in place.‘As well as the extra time in making a decision there is extra work for staff. Minister Kelly has made Cessnock Council less efficient than it was before he put his political nose in.’ Clr Ryan said.‘The community are sick of having Labor put the boot into Cessnock.’
‘If the Greens have the balance of power in either the Upper or Lower House of Parliament after the election we will be working to dismiss the Cessnock Planning Panel and give decision making power back to the local community.’
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