Ex-Gympie councillor Jan Watt has criticised the council for their inaction on Imbil dump’s open hours more than two years since she first started petitioning for a change.
Ex-Gympie councillor Jan Watt has criticised the council for their inaction on Imbil dump’s open hours more than two years since she first started petitioning for a change.

Ex-Gympie councillor slams two year dump inaction

EX-COUNCILLOR Jan Watt has taken Gympie Regional Council to task over its inaction on the Imbil tip open hours and accused the council of “washing their hands” of the controversy.

Ms Watt’s fight for extended hours follows the latest report into the region’s dump open hours, which said extra weekday and weekend hours at Imbil would cost $42,000 annually.

The council could not afford this within the existing waste services budget, the report said.

It was an argument Ms Watt did not buy, especially since it was now more than two years since she first petitioned the council to reverse the axing of more than 200 operating hours from dumps in the Mary Valley.

“This Mary Valley tip matter has been dragged out for so long with the attitude ‘if we leave it long enough, they will get used to it and we can keep on doing what we want’,” she said.

Jan Watt and Tom Marshall with their petitions to change the Mary Valley dump hours in 2017.
Jan Watt and Tom Marshall with their petitions to change the Mary Valley dump hours in 2017.

“Originally, there was an estimated saving of $30,000 when the hours were slashed.

“Now to reinstate just a few more hours it is $42,000.”

The extra hours were necessary given the Mary Valley’s burgeoning population and booming real estate market, she said.

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And she was especially curious about the decision making process.

“What I wouldn’t give to see the paperwork behind this fiasco of providing essential services in a growing area.

“Poor, poor management, forward planning and leadership,” she said.

The former councillor’s unhappiness with the status quo was shared by Cr Bob Fredman, who said he was “disappointed” the original staff recommendations in the report made no mention to pursuing the issue.

“There’s nothing in these recommendations that gives me hope,” he said.

Imbil dump.
Imbil dump.

Cr Fredman said the report’s claim there was no money for the extended service “doesn’t go down too well when we previously had that service”.

He asked the motion be changed to ensure the council took a closer look at expanding Imbil’s hours as part of the 2020-21 budget.

However, Cr Dan Stewart asked why the Mary Valley tip should be the site to have its hours extended when the report showed Tin Can Bay was used more often.

Councillors ultimately endorsed a review of all of the region’s tip hours as part of their budget review.

Cr Fredman said he still hoped the council would have a report ready on it long before then.

“It’s a hot topic in the Mary Valley,” he said.

“The sooner we start talking about it the better.”

Ms Watt’s September 2017 petition garnered more than 1000 signatures spread across 60 pages.

The council’s report revealed the Imbil tip was the third-most frequented in the region, attracting 3.55 visitors per hour.

Roger Hogg is outside the Imbil dump after the hours were slashed in 2017.
Roger Hogg is outside the Imbil dump after the hours were slashed in 2017.

It was narrowly beaten by Tin Can Bay where there were 3.6 visits per hour.

Both sites trailed behind Bonnick Rd, which had almost 20 visitors every hour.

The council defended the controversial 2017 changes as necessary to meet environmental requirements.

“After reviewing the usage of some of our facilities, the decision was made to close several sites while others have been provided with supervision,” a spokeswoman said at the time.

“To fund the supervision of these sites, the operating hours of some waste management facilities have been reduced.”

The cuts to open hours around the region coincided with the expansion of its wheelie bin collection and a drop in the price of the service for ratepayers.

Gympie Times


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