Mayor responds to Mogo criticism

18 February 2021

Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes says recent criticism on social media claiming Mogo’s bushfire recovery was taking too long is understandable.

Clr Innes was responding to claims by a Mogo business owner blaming Council for delays in rebuilding, lack of accessible toilet, a missing barbecue, and the overgrown creek.

The Mayor said while she understood the frustrations, Mogo had in fact received significant assistance from Council.

“When it comes to private land, decisions on maintenance and whether to rebuild are the choice of property owners,” Clr Innes said.

“We know some people are either not ready to rebuild yet, while others were under-insured. That doesn’t mean Council is putting up obstacles. Quite the opposite – we’ve done a lot to make things as easy as we can, providing free BAL certificates, successfully lobbying the NSW Government to remove offsets for vegetation clearing, and enabling owners to set up temporary dwellings.”

Clr Innes said Council had also put a lot of resource into fast-tracking Development Applications (DAs) when they are lodged.

“From the 246 DAs bushfire rebuilds submitted we’ve approved 205, with an average processing time of 36 days – more than ten families have moved back into rebuilt homes,” she said.

“We’ve also worked with Mogo businesses and organisations to assist the village recovery overall, helping set up the temporary mall – provided rent-free by Biz Rebuild – to enable business to continue trading while they rebuild.

“Many fire affected businesses chose to work with the specialist planning consultants we engaged, resulting in changes to our building codes for car parking and building set-backs and making development applications simpler. This culminated in a workshop for businesses to support them in preparing DAs.

“As far as we’re aware, these businesses are very happy with the help they’ve received from us.”

Clr Innes said the fires had provided an opportunity for Council to reassess Mogo’s infrastructure.

“The village deserves well-planned facilities for residents and visitors,” she said. “To that end, we’re spending bushfire recovery funding on town planning, collaborating with Mogo’s community to find the best results for the whole village, including infrastructure like toilets, parks, parking, picnic tables and barbecues,” she said.

“The Mogo Village Place Activation Plan will be finished in the next six months, and having a comprehensive and strategic approach means Council can attract funding for things like an accessible public toilet in a well-sited location.”

The Mayor said Council’s tourism marketing and public relations had also been focussed on Mogo in 2020.

“That’s really paid off, with Spendmap data showing $22 million was spent at Mogo businesses between January and December,” Clr Innes said.

“That’s a $2 million increase on 2019, with 62 per cent of that spent by visitors to our region. A family fun day in April and bike event in May should help boost numbers in 2021.”

She said infrastructure and beautification of the village continued, with significant work at Annetts Street and new footpaths, and some maintenance due on other footpaths in the coming months.

“We’ve been helping landholders with the creek. Although it’s on private land, we’re assisting with weed management this week and have offered funding for creek rehabilitation,” she said.

“Beautiful new town signs, developed in consultation with the community, are on the way. We’ve taken the time to get them right, with Aboriginal art and language included, and they’re going to look wonderful once installed.”

Clr Innes said there was, of course, still much to be done.

“More than 100 client families from Mogo and surrounding areas are receiving case management services through Eurobodalla’s bushfire recovery support service.

“I urge people to work with us on Council-related issues. Sure, it’s easy to get worked up on social media but it’s unproductive,” she said.

“Please remember, anyone struggling with recovery can contact our bushfire recovery service on 4474 7434, and for rebuilding, contact our development helpdesk on 4474 1231.”