Men's Shed gets green light after councillor backflip
UPDATE 3.45pm: Tweed MP Geoff Provest has welcomed Labor Councillor Reece Byrnes' decision to support the Pottsvile Men's Shed.
"It is great to see Cr Byrnes finally listening to the community on this issue," Mr Provest said.
Mr Provest said he was relieved to see the Men's Shed could now continue with plans to build a temporary site at Black Rocks, including using grants New South Wales Government.
"The NSW Government has committed over $70,000 in community grants towards the construction of the shed and I look forward to seeing the benefits flow to its members and the wider community.
"I would also like to commend the Pottsville Mens Shed members, particularly the president, Michael Ryan for his tireless efforts in raising both funds and awareness of this project.
EARLIER: THE MEN'S Shed stalemate at Pottsville looks set to be resolved after Tweed Shire Councillor Reece Byrnes announced he would change his decision and support the Black Rocks home.
The Labor councillor made the announcement from Canberra today, confirming he had lodged a formal motion calling for a recision on the Pottsville and District Men's Shed (PDMS) issue and for it to be brought back to council as soon as possible.
He expected a vote would be likely during the March meeting.
Cr Byrnes' surprise announcement follows an intense community backlash against the council decision, with a protest sticker campaign and petition by the Men's Shed gaining strong support.
Cr Byrnes said his decision would "resolve the long standing community issue and deliver the Men's Shed for the Pottsville community".
"The Men's Shed needs a better location and at this current time Black Rocks is the only and best option," Cr Byrnes said.
"It is also vitally important that our precious koalas are protected and we have to work together to ensure that our local koala habitat is preserved."
PDMS President Michael Ryan said he was "over the moon" to hear the decision.
"This will be a great relief to the Pottsville community to know this much-needed and supported community facility will go ahead," Mr Ryan said.
"We are all ready to go, we took delivery of the shed on Monday."
Cr Reece was one of four councillors, including Mayor Katie Milne, Deputy Mayor Chris Cherry and Cr Ron Cooper, to support a motion at their first council meeting on November 17 to defer a decision on granting a temporary licence to the PDMS to build their shed at the Black Rocks Sports Oval.
Their decision came after concerns were raised over the suitability of the site being too close to vital koala habitat.
Councillors instead called on Tweed MP Geoff Provest to produce a list of available Crown Land in the Pottsville area, which he is still working through.
Cr Byrnes said the issue had dragged on for too long and needed to be resolved.
"For far too long this issue has dragged on causing concern and distress throughout the community," he said.
"The uncertainty ends today. Labor will step in and fix this, delivering a Men's Shed for Pottsville."
Cr Byrnes motion will call for the November 17 motion to be deferred and for council to immediately grant a licence to the PDMS at Black Rocks for the period of five years.
He cited overwhelming community support for the Men's Shed and the division and uncertainty the issue was causing in the community as reasons for his change of mind.
He further said it was "now evident that there was a lack of available or cost-effective alternative sites".
In his motion, Cr Byrnes will further call on council to ensure a vital koala corridor at the Black Rocks site is monitored by environment officers to ensure the protection of this endangered species.
Response is being sought from environmentalists who have called for the Black Rocks Sports Oval to be revegetated.