Camden Community Alliance organises community rally to protest Camden Council's CBD changes

Call to action:  Camden Community Alliance's Lorraine Iddon, Charles Cowell and Jan Judge are among those to have organised a community rally on June 14 for the community to protest the changes Camden Council will make to the CBD. Picture: Anna Warr
Call to action: Camden Community Alliance's Lorraine Iddon, Charles Cowell and Jan Judge are among those to have organised a community rally on June 14 for the community to protest the changes Camden Council will make to the CBD. Picture: Anna Warr

RESIDENTS who have objected to changes to the CBD will attend a protest rally next weekend in an attempt to make Camden Council ‘‘stop and listen’’.

Supporters of the Camden Community Alliance will call on the council to stop its immediate plans for Argyle Street at the demonstration at the Camden Showground from 11am.

Alliance president Pieter Versluis said the group would also use the neighbouring AH&I Hall to exhibit a visual display of some of the changes including the traffic lights at the intersection of Argyle and Oxley streets and a decked car park on Oxley Street.

‘‘There will be the opportunity for people to give their feedback,’’ he said.

‘‘This is a real opportunity for the community to stand up and demonstrate to council they are concerned about the decision making process of council.

‘‘The mayor (Lara Symkowiak) says she has a mandate to make these changes. A mandate comes from a ballot box, not from a survey and we can’t wait until the next (local government) election in September 2016. That is why it is important people attend the rally on June 14.

‘‘The community is unhappy with council’s plans and does not accept the council’s decision was made in the best interest of Camden in that it doesn’t follow heritage provisions.

‘‘I’ve been put in the position of representing some thousands of community members who are expressing dissatisfaction with council’s plans albeit council says it’s passed and end of story.

‘‘If council is permitted to go ahead with the changes, the heritage and historic character of Camden will no longer be evident.’’

Mr Versluis said about 3000 residents were opposed to the changes — and that number could be indicative of how many would attend the Sunday rally.

He said there would be guest speakers from midday, a question and answer forum, sausage sizzle and a coffee van.

Cr Symkowiak told the Advertiser she would not be at the rally as she was attending a Christening but that she had ‘‘personally responded to individuals who have contacted me about the Camden Town Centre Improvement works.’’

The Alliance has requested she send a representative in her place.

Camden MP Chris Patterson and Macarthur MP Russell Matheson have also been invited.

The Alliance was formed in February to urge the council to further consult with the community before pushing ahead with the changes which will also include pedestrian signals between John and Hill streets; one metre wider footpath on either side of Argyle Street; resurface and level footpath and new street furniture.

Mayor defends speaking out

MAYOR Lara Symkowiak was called on to explain how Camden Council’s code of meeting practice allowed her to ‘‘debate’’ community members during two public addresses at last week’s meeting.

She interjected during addresses by Camden Community Alliance members Peter Standen and Pieter Versluis who are opposed to the council spending almost $340,000 on granite pavers for Argyle Street.

Mr Standen said the pavers were ‘‘out of character’’ with the town.

Cr Symkowiak later told the Advertiser the code of meeting practice stated that ‘‘if a speaker makes potentially offensive or defamatory remarks’’ she could ask them to refrain from such comments.

‘‘References were ... made about the sample pavers council had on display (that they) were not the same as sold and marketed by the supplier.

‘‘It was inappropriate to allow the meeting to continue without [clarifying] ... what was being installed.

‘‘Another speaker stated if developers were doing what council was doing, we would have an order put on them straight away. This was an inappropriate statement as council is not breaking any rules or acting illegally.’’

The tender for the pavers was accepted.

— Michelle Burrell

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