Cobar Shire Councillors voted last week that council commence the process to have the Newey Reserve reclassified as a park.
A report to last week’s Ordinary Council Meeting from council’s environmental supervisor Melissa Gunn advised, under the Crown Land Management Act 2016, categorisation of the Newey Reserve was required to continue with the development of the Plan of Management.
“The recommended initial category for the Newey as provided to Council by the Department of Industry is a park,” Ms Gunn reported.
Cr Julie Payne called for the matter to be deferred until the December Ordinary Council Meeting, citing the amount of reading needed in the 69-page attachment to the Newey Planning Proposal report warranted more time for consideration before a decision was made.
The attachment included a number of submissions from interested local residents giving their opinions, both for and against, in seeing the Newey used for camping purposes.
Some of the submissions were very detailed, some contained photographs, a number of submissions that were lodged came from near neighbours to the Newey requesting that camping not be considered as it spoiled the peace and quiet of the area and compromised their privacy.
Other submissions said closing the Newey to campers had greatly hindered Cobar’s tourism trade and, in turn, hurt local businesses and local economy.
One submission was presented in the form of a petition of more than 250 signatures calling for the provision of primitive camping to be allowed at the Newey.
When it came to the vote on Cr Payne’s motion to defer the matter, the councillors present at the meeting were split with four councillors voting in favour of deferring the discussion and four others voted against it.
Deputy mayor Peter Abbott, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Mayor Lilliane Brady, was required to use his casting vote and he voted that it not be deferred.
Cr Jarrod Marsden said he’d done a lot of listening to various people over the past three or four months on the matter and said while he’d been a supporter of free camping all along, he didn’t let that sway his opinion. He said his opinion had however not changed and he voted in favour of the matter proceeding.
Cr Janine Lea-Barrett said council had been waiting a long time for a decision on this matter and it needed to “get underway”.