May 18, 2016

Council Needs To Step Up


Editorial: Debbie Denison and Denise Secomb

17th March 2016

Magnetic Community News has come up with the following report card for Townsville City Council and its elected representatives coming into the council elections this Saturday, with a bay by bay look at the positives and negatives of council performance for each bay.

Our MCN report card is a rating out of 10:

Deputy Mayor and Division 3 representative, Cr Vern Veitch, a  9 for being a hard working and accessible Division 3 representative.

Mayor, Cr Jenny Hill, a 7.5 for being an accessible and hard working Mayor.

Both have often visited Magnetic Island Residents and Ratepayers Association meetings, with Cr Veitch visiting the island fortnightly on pothole patrol, among other things.

Cr Hill has managed to keep rates down but has us still on the brink of Level 3 water restrictions, now due to kick in at the end of April after recent rain.

We give  the council bureaucrats  a 5 for what we see as too much red tape, a lack of accountability in some departments which has resulted in  a series of problems that still exist on Magnetic Island, some of them from poorly or inadequately planned and executed solutions, including off-island contracts.

Basics has got to be sufficient staff at  Magnetic Island depot , contracts for Magnetic Island businesses and accessible, stable staffing among the managers at TCC.

The Magnetic Island State School at Nelly Bay and Magnetic Island Bowls Club at Arcadia will be open from 8am to 6pm Saturday for voters to cast their vote for three things: Mayor, Division 3 candidate, and a yes/no vote on whether you are in favour of the State Government having four-year terms instead of three-year terms.

Looming large with recent rain is the problem of polluted water running off into Butler Creek from the Picnic Bay tip which finally closed on March 7.

There is an emerging erosion problem also at West Point (see Letter to the Editor and photos page 5.)

However, one  the biggest problems is a lack of bang for our bucks from Townsville City Council monies to Townsville Enterprise Limited  annually for expertise in tourism promotion and events and economic development. We believe we’ve been short-changed when it comes to economic development for Magnetic Island and Townsville during this term of TCC.

We would like to see a review of TCC funding for TEL.

We find our evidence in a downturn in jobs equating to hundreds of thousands of dollars lost from the island economy. Magnetic Island’s population, until recent cost saving measures by council, has been stable for about 20 years but now a number of business people are leaving the island with some workers already gone.

The Magnetic Island State School student population has dropped from 154 in 2015 to 143 in 2016, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Education and Training. We have also lost one teacher during this time.

We believe this is indicative of the loss of jobs on Magnetic Island due in part to council out sourcing  work, instead of getting the staff numbers back to normal at the depot, which is two staffers and one operator down at present, according to official figures. These positions are currently under review, which we are informed is a normal process before recruitment, though we have to question council’s intent, given the ending of so many local contracts and business arrangements on Magnetic Island.

We see part of the problem with Magnetic Island’s economic downturn as the ending the 2013 end to rubbish contracts on Magnetic Island with TCC now handling rubbish. The projected savings each year which council claimed handling its rubbish contracts in-house is still yet to be demonstrated to us satisfactorily. There has been a nett downturn in the number of Magnetic Island jobs from the loss of these businesses.

We are also alarmed at the awarding of two contracts to off-island businesses, such as the green waste mulching contract and the coconut de-nutting contract, again impacting island jobs.

The  poor state of the Nelly Bay reservoir’s cap which we are informed has been below par since before Cyclone Yasi. The reservoir services Magnetic Island’s needs for water from Townsville.

There are 2382 rateable properties on Magnetic Island, with 1877 receiving a bin service at the moment. We will go through the positives and negatives on our report card for Magnetic Island, highlighting these issues, bay by bay.

PICNIC BAY:

Positives:

* Magnetic Island Waste Transfer Station finished.

* Tip closed.

* Roads good.

* Parkland and barbecues well maintained.

Negatives:

* Tip is leaching polluted water into Butler Creek, including run-off from the erosion problems on the cap of the tip.

* Some properties are still not sewered.

* Sewage treatment plant is not built to cope with sewage from all properties at Picnic Bay, Nelly Bay and Arcadia.

* Commercial gardening contractors have run out of mature mulch to use.

WEST POINT:

Negatives:

* Road is still unsealed and rarely graded and needs six more culverts, according to one local resident who alleges one part of the road is built on private land.  (see Letter to Editor).

* Some erosion problems.

* Massive rate hikes. Blocks unserviced for electricity, water and rubbish.

ARCADIA:

Positives:

* Parkland and barbecues are well maintained.

* Gabul Way completion a great outcome for residents and visitors.

Negatives:

* Gabul Way finished with stainless steel handrails which require regular polishing.

* Most of Arcadia unsewered.

NELLY BAY:

Positives:

* Parkland and barbecues are well maintained.

Negatives:

* Drainage and lighting problems in Mandalay Avenue.

* Some properties still unsewered.

* Ongoing erosion problems at beach front still unresolved after many years, with a number of councils and State Governments uncommitted to implementing solutions recommended by a SEMP.

* Walkway required from Yates Street to Base Magnetic Island along Sooning Street.

HORSESHOE BAY:

Positives:

* Parkland and barbecues well maintained.

Negatives:

* Ongoing erosion problems at beach front still unresolved after many years.

* Traders and residents need to form a working group to come to an agreement with council on where to put the new toilets as council attempts to consult with residents have still not worked properly.

* A number of areas with drainage problems.

* Council has failed to address the Sunday markets  and deal with the associated traffic safety and parking problems they cause in the area.

RADICAL BAY:

Negatives:

* We still need tree-line tourism development to create jobs for Magnetic Islanders. There was previously a resort at Radical Bay,

* Current permission is for a subdivision.

* Council or State Government need to come to the party to pay for a road upgrade as the owner of Radical Bay site, Graeme Juniper, will not develop while imposed upon by a court decision in 2013 compelling him to upgrade the road. Graeme told MCN on Friday the public will be using that road and that he, as a developer, gets no benefit from upgrading the road, compared with public benefit, therefore the court decision is an impediment to development of what he sees as one of the most spectacular resort sites in the world. Council and the State Government need to resolve these stalemates with Juniper. We want to see a resort there and the road built to create jobs for Magnetic Islanders.

 Comment on this article 
Your Name:
Your Email Address:
Your Comments:
 
Visual Captcha