On Saturday 1st September at Ballina Shire Council’s Extraordinary Meeting, Councillors voted six to four in favour of the closure of the eastern road at Lake Ainsworth.
The Chambers also accommodated a large crowd attending to watch the proceedings on a feed to a TV screen in the foyer. Most of these people were there to support keeping the road open under the banner ‘Preserving Lake Ainsworth’.
And after the final decision, Pip Carter who represented this group, would still not concede the issue was resolved just yet.
‘At this stage, right now we are in limbo, we will follow up any options we have left, or open to us. If indeed there are any. My concerns are for the democratic process not being put in place and Council are still just not listening to the majority,’ he said.
Mr Carter was referring to the 4000 signatures he obtained on a petition against the closure, and the obvious support at the meeting.
However, those in favour of the road closure such as Lennox Head Resident’s Association President Monica Wilcox, believe there is clear support for the closure. She also suggested that on Saturday the supporters of closing the road stayed away to avoid conflict.
Mayor David Wright (citing the new Ballina and Alstonville Pools as an example) said that Council decisions in the short term might upset some people but given time and judged in the long term, are later seen as a gain for the community and ultimately for the best.
The sentiment now coming from the closure supporters also echoes the Mayor’s. After the decision, Shaun Eastment from Lennox Head Landcare said, ‘Enough. It’s time to move on. Hopefully this puts the matter to rest, and hopefully in 5 years we would have all moved on.’
Following Council’s decision, the Lake precinct may soon see changes implemented with works having been delayed over the last couple of years. Work could now start as early as October, but with the approach of peak holiday period and bush fire season, we are unlikely to see the full closure of the eastern road and the new overall plans fully operational until the first quarter 2019.