GALLERY: Mayor Lara Symkowiak stands defiant while hundreds protest changes to the Camden CBD

UNPOPULAR changes to Camden’s CBD will go ahead next month, mayor Lara Symkowiak says — despite hundreds of residents turning out to protest the plans on Sunday.

 The Camden Community Alliance organised ‘‘monster rally’’ at the Camden Showground made little impact on Cr Symkowiak who, when asked if she would heed the community’s call for a moratorium said: ‘‘Council will be proceeding with works and they will commence next month.’’

But that hasn’t dented the determination of protesters who vowed to keep fighting with one resident calling for a citizens-initiated referendum while another called for the council to be sacked.

Alliance president Pieter Versluis said: ‘‘I’m very enthused by the number of you who have given up your Sunday to demonstrate to this council that you are prepared to go out of your way to say to the council ‘you must stop, you must listen, you must engage’.’’

Cr Eva Campbell — one of only three councillors who voted against the proposal which includes traffic lights on Argyle Street and a decked car park in Oxley Street — said she found it ‘‘grossly offensive’’ that the council would ‘‘turn on its community and abuse people as I have heard people in the Alliance be abused’’.

‘‘At the moment I think our democracy is threatened by people concerned for themselves.’’

Also speaking at the rally was Macarthur resident and former Labor opposition leader Mark Latham who said: ‘‘Where is the big need for big change? There’s not been a proven need for traffic lights..

‘‘It appears the parking development is a waste of money and it seems unnecessary the council push this through without asking what you, the community, and Camden Chamber of Commerce want. The council needs to take a step back.’’

Camden Chamber of Commerce president Miriam Roberts urged the council to take a ‘‘whole of town approach’’ and not just concentrate on small pockets of the CBD and ‘‘preserve the historical feel of Camden’’.

Cr Symkowiak, who did not attend the rally, disputed the Alliance’s estimation that more than 1000 people attended.

‘‘I was advised by a reporter who attended the rally that approximately 200 to 250 people were there,’’ she said.

Mr Versluis said: ‘‘Not only is that wrong it is disrespectful to all of the residents who made the effort to attend.’’

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