(This is an edited (for space) reply from Mr Paul DeSzell, MidCoast Council in reply to Dr John Stockard’s letter we published last month regarding the poor council care of The Brush and gardens in Wingham.)
As part of my investigation in relation to the matter, I have personally inspected the site in question as referenced in the attached photos.
Let me begin by acknowledging that I completely agree with your statements in relation to the vegetational complexity of the Wingham Brush Nature Reserve and that the management goal is to produce a rounded verandah edge to protect the remnant to prevent desiccation and environmental weed invasion.
In relation to your comments regarding the work undertaken, I can confirm that the works were initiated by the crews you spoke to onsite and that the NPWS had not been consulted.
I can also confirm that no other staff members provided instruction or any direction to the work crews.
From my investigation it is evident that the crews were approached directly to trim the branches and acted upon this request without knowing the kind of tree they were cutting or that it was part of an Endangered Ecological Community and within a Nature Reserve. The staff have been counselled in this regard to ensure that it does not happen again.
When is Council going to consult and work with NPWS and knowledgeable community residents constructively about the Wingham Brush?
Council regularly consults with and has an excellent working relationship with the NPWS in relation to the Wingham Brush and to my knowledge has never received any complaints from this agency in regard to the Brush.
When and where will Council strike next? That’s becoming a real concern for me and other residents. This threat of impending Council vandalism makes Wingham an unliveable community, Paul.
I do not concur with this statement – Wingham is a very liveable community with a number of natural and built assets that provide a unique amenity.
Who has directed these workers to damage our Brush this morning?
As stated above the works were not directed by anyone in a supervisory capacity.
Who directed the debacle at the Bight Cemetery?
As you would be aware an independent external investigation was undertaken in relation to this matter – I am unable to provide any further information as all staffing matters are confidential.
Who directed the removal of the Flintwood in our town square?
I can confirm that the works were initiated by the individual that you spoke to onsite and were not directed by anyone in a supervisory capacity.
Has anyone been cautioned, disciplined or sacked?
As you would appreciate all staffing matters are confidential and I am unable to provide any of the information that you have requested.
Lastly, if you are implying that I as the Director of Liveable Communities has provided any instruction in relation to any of the above matters I would invite you to call me and I would be more than happy to discuss them further with you.
Paul De Szell
Director Liveable Communities
(It appears to the community that the workers are not supervised and there is little accountability. It seems they’re set loose with chainsaws and trucks to do as they like. Do they know one tree from another? Nobody has been named over the vandalism of our Bight Cemetery. An internal report is just not good enough. Somebody needs to be in charge who is knowledgeable, qualified, trained, respectful of our heritage and ACCOUNTABLE. And Council should be hiring better quality and better qualified field staff. ED)