In January I sent a number of emails to the General Manager (GM) and the Mayor of Clarence Valley Council (CVC) covering a number of issues of concern, including CVC management of local tourism services.
As a result I was invited to a meeting with Mayor, Jim Simmons, and acting GM, Troy Anderson, in Maclean on 15 January 2019.
During the meeting I challenged the Mayor to nominate one thing that Council’s Economic Development Unit (EDU) had handled successfully for local tourism since the EDU replaced the industry-based Clarence River Tourist Association (CRTA) in 2013. He couldn’t name one……but he said that it really didn’t matter because the Christmas holiday period proved that tourists come here anyway. He said that the important issue was that council has now reduced spending on tourism to just $270,000 per year.
When the new Special Rate Variation takes full effect, CVC will be taking a sum of around $250,000 pa from local businesses via the Tourism Differential Rate that was approved in 1990 to pay for staffing the South Grafton Visitor Information Centre (they now treat that money as General Rate Income). So, effectively, CVC is contributing almost nothing to local tourism services.
Virtually every other regional council in the developed world recognises that their primary responsibility is to provide a Visitor Information Centre and information services for visitors once they arrive in their Local Government Area.
This council has sold off all the assets and destroyed all the hard work that so many local people put into local tourism over many decades.
I have tried to keep the community (and the councillors) informed and I must have been successful as acting GM Troy Anderson directed that CVC will not respond to any outstanding, any current or any future questions that I may direct to Council regarding local tourism.
So much for the democratic rights of a resident/ratepayer in the Clarence Valley…..
Bill Day, Yamba
Editor’s note: On June 26, 2018 council adopted a ‘Customer Service Policy’ which in part deals with resident/ratepayers asking questions of council and council’s response under its ‘Unreasonable Complainant Conduct Policy’.