Councillor Catch Up – Batehaven wrap up

About a dozen community members stopped in to Corrigans Beach Reserve Park to catch up with councillors on Wednesday 15 November.

Councillors Tubby Harrison, Pete Diskon and Mayor Mathew Hatcher attended the Batehaven catchup.

One community member came with a printed document for each councillor from an organisation accusing councils of illegalities. Others sat in for a chat about tiny homes, rates and the smart water metres.

One gentleman spoke about his desire to live “off the grid” in a caravan turned into a tiny home. He asked councillors if he needed a DA for a composting toilet.

Cr Tubby Harrison explained that if anyone wishes to live in a tiny home or caravan they need to show how they are disposing of waste. Council compliance staff will inspect and make sure it’s not harmful to the environment and human health.

There are only a few composting toilets in the shire which require a section 68 approval or DA and caravans must have compliance plates. See FAQs on the tiny homes webpage.

Another community member said she has been battling with fluoride in her water since 2007 and wanted councillors to help her fight the government to stop. The addition of fluoride in public water supplies is a direction from the NSW Government for the benefit of the community’s dental health. Councillors were not willing to raise it as an issue.

A question was asked as to why there was an antenna on the public toilet block near Innes Boatshed, Batemans Bay. To answer – it is a LoRaWAN Gateway device used for Council’s IT team’s Smart Cities project – to help identify when public rubbish bins are full.

The device has a 4G SIM that collects data from sensors inside bins. The data is then transferred to the cloud, so Council can be notified when rubbish bins are full and need to be emptied.

The conversation continued with multiple community members concerned over privacy issues with data collection and the smart cities project.

Councillors reassured the residents that Council has very strict rules around data collection, following the Privacy Act right down to each letter. Council’s privacy statement is available to view online.

One resident told councillors she was unhappy with the installation of smart water metres, fearing she will be charged a hefty cost.

Smart water meters are devices that measure and communicate water usage from consumer to provider to facilitate water management and billing. At this stage, Council is trialling the smart metres in some Eurobodalla suburbs. There are no additional charges.

Another concern from a community member was the Mosquito Bay Stairs. She said they were unsafe and not accessible.

Council is currently replacing illegally built stairs on an existing path down a steep cliff that leads to the beach at Mosquito Bay. The stairs will be built to Australian Standard and signs will be installed warning users.

With the Earn and Return recycling scheme becoming popular to gain some extra cash for groceries, one community member said there wasn’t enough processing machines and they weren’t emptied enough.

“Too often I go to cash in my cans and bottles only to see they’re full and I have to take them all home again,” she said.

“They have also removed the one from Catalina. Why can’t there be machines at each of the tips making it more accessible to residents?”

Councillors were intrigued by the question and said they will follow up with Council’s waste team.

However, councillors made it clear that the Earn and Return container deposit scheme is an independent initiative and not affiliated with the Council.

Following up with Council staff, turns out it’s work in progress with Earn and Return stakeholders to find suitable land and funding to host the machines.

There’s a bit to it rather than dumping them anywhere – machines need electricity, safe access and suitable land. Apparently, there’s a solar-powered prototype being made which means one could be at Surf Beach tip in future – stay tuned.

The Batehaven catchup ran 30 minutes overtime as councillors and community members were enjoying conversation.

Councillor Catch Ups will return after the Christmas and school holiday break. The next scheduled catch up is at Evans Road playground, Tuross Head on Wednesday 21 February.

To see upcoming locations, visit the councillor catch ups web page.

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/Public Release. View in full here.