I write in response to “From the mayor’s desk” as published online May 3 and his wish to “talk about the Bellingen Shire policy around tree removal” (complete with a photo and his “The Greens” political party badge). I’d like to “talk” about this too.
All this letter did was confirm that the mayor has been captured by the bureaucrats, blindly accepting their advice and signing off on whatever they want with little regard for the consequences. The mayor is a well-meaning person, just 18 months into the job. I believe he has the welfare of the community at heart. However, he needs to stand up for the residents, heritage, future, flora and fauna against the bureaucrats.
The job of a mayor is to lead. It is not to be a rubber stamp. Over the years, I have seen many politicians seduced by the bureaucracy. They start talking in their language, delegating decision making to them and then distancing themselves from what they’ve done.
This is what is happening in Bellingen Shire with tree removal. I have no issue with trees being removed if safety is at risk or if council is at significant financial or legal risk. But risk management is all about accepting risk, managing and treating risk or removing risk. This council, its officers and now the mayor seem to adopt a position of removing risk rather than accepting or treating it. The default should be treat and manage rather than remove.
Previously tree removal required a Development Application and consultation with those impacted, a.k.a neighbours. Under new rules, a council officer can simply sign off on a tree removal with little regard for wildlife, street amenity, property prices, privacy, loss of shade increasing energy costs, the amount of noise from removal and the aftermath.
All I ask is that council actively works to preserve what makes Bellingen Shire the treasure it is – nature and trees. If you don’t like trees, then don’t bloody live here. Move to Brighton-Le-Sands in Sydney where you will be at home in a concreted front yard which you can hose every weekend ’til your heart’s content.
Mr Mayor, your column ends “until next time”. Unfortunately, there’s no next time for a tree. And unless you realise this, there will be no next time for you.