Posted 11/3/06

 

Press Release:  MRRA Says Macedon Ranges’ Mayor Should Resign

 

Macedon Ranges Residents’ Association [MRRA] is calling for the Mayor, Geoff Neil, to resign immediately from that position. 

 

The call comes after Cr. Neil’s comments in the Age and Leader newspapers about VCAT’s approval of an application (refused by the previous Council) for a dwelling in a rural zone.  The VCAT decision overrules local policies recently put into Macedon Ranges’ planning scheme by Amendment C48. The Mayor is quoted as saying the decision is “terrific”, that had the application come before the newly-elected council “it would probably have approved it”, and he didn’t think “too many of the current councillors would be unhappy with the VCAT decision”. 

 

MRRA Secretary Christine Pruneau said:

 

“How dare the Mayor presume to make policy on the run, or offer a personal opinion, that contradicts Council’s adopted position and broader community wishes to keep Macedon Ranges rural.  As official spokesman for the Shire (and other Councillors), the Mayor seems to be telling Victoria that Macedon Ranges’ Council will ‘probably’ approve development regardless of what the planning scheme says.  That wouldn’t be acceptable coming from any Councillor but it is unforgivable coming from the Mayor.  It takes Macedon Ranges, planning-wise, back to the Dark Ages.”

 

“These comments make Council look foolish and out-of-touch.  We’ve just spent a lot of money putting a huge amendment in our planning scheme to protect rural land, VCAT bowls it over, and instead of being alarmed, the Mayor says it’s terrific!  Surely Cr. Neil, a policeman, knows Councillors are legally bound to uphold their planning scheme?

 

“Anything goes” may have been Council’s mantra when the Mayor was last a Councillor, but that attitude and the ‘bad decision is better than no decision’ approach of our early Councils will not be tolerated today.  It has taken the Shire 3 years to even begin to recover from those ‘wilderness’ years, and residents don’t want go back there again.  If the Mayor is correct in saying most current Councillors support his view, then Macedon Ranges is lost.  MRRA would like to know who those Councillors are because we don’t think that’s what most people wanted when they voted just 3 months ago.”

 

“This Shire desperately needs a leader (and Councillors) with vision.  The Mayor’s comments are seriously out of step with current thinking and put Council in conflict with its own planning scheme and community values (e.g. Vision 2025).  They shame Macedon Ranges and in MRRA’s view are completely out of order.  Cr. Neil should resign as Mayor immediately.”

 

The Association urges residents to let Council know (email: mrsc@macedon-ranges.vic.gov.au or fax 5422 3623) that they don’t support Cr. Neil’s comments, and want our rural land protected.

 

MRRA can be contacted by phone (5427 1481) or through its website (www.mrra.asn.au).