'The majority of council doesn't represent the community'
SOME Tweed Shire councillors have made a call for unity over the controversial Tweed Valley Hospital site after Mayor Katie Milne failed to attend the project's sod-turning ceremony.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard flew up from Sydney last week to turn the first sod alongside Tweed MP Geoff Provest, but only Cr James Owen, Cr Warren Polgalse and Cr Pryce Allsop attended.
Cr Allsop told the Tweed Daily News it would have been good to see Cr Milne at the event "for the sake of the community".
"I think it would be good to see the mayor show some solidarity, that she supports the community," he said.
"As it stands I guess she's saying she supports her portion of the community.
"I believe the majority of the community supports this. We need it - we have an ageing population, the numbers are growing all the time and it's a matter of necessity."
Cr Polglase said he believed "the majority of council doesn't represent the community".
"The mayor can make her own choices about what she doesn't want to do," he said.
"She fervently fought the hospital site with every resource available, but I think the election we had proved the community is on side with the decision that was made."
The majority of the Tweed Shire Council strongly opposed the new hospital site, which is on former State Significant Farmland at Cudgen.
The "Rainbow Four", made up of councillors Chris Cherry, Reece Byrnes, Ron Cooper and Mayor Katie Milne, all opposed the site selection.
When the Tweed Daily News contacted Cr Milne for comment, Deputy Mayor Cr Cherry said she was unavailable to attend the sod-turning as she was overseas, while Cr Cherry said she did not attend the "political photo opportunity" as she was on holiday.
"I am all for the hospital now being built, but it does seem quite an interesting decision by the minister to have a sod-turning for a project that does not have its approvals in place yet," she said.
"There are many conditions that need to be met prior to construction beginning.
"It appears the attitude of the coalition government of riding roughshod over the approvals process is set to continue."
The first development application for the Tweed Valley Hospital project was approved by the Department of Planning last month, however a second application for the hospital building's design still needs to be approved.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest told the Tweed Daily News he expected the second application to be approved in the coming months.