George Town Council's Economic Stimulus Package motion failed

A cloud is hanging over four George Town Council projects after a funding motion was knocked back.

The council was offered a loan of $150,000 from the Northern Economic Stimulus Package in May, but did not accept the offer. 

After reconsidering, the council called a special meeting to accept the offer, but the motion did not pass. 

The motion required an “absolute majority” to pass, but councillors Christoper Ashley, Heather Barwick, and Tim Parish voted against it. 

The council agenda said if the motion did not proceed, the council’s reputation could be damaged and loss of opportunity to “take advantage” of the interest-free loan would occur. 

George Town Council wanted to use the money for stage two of Regent Square playground works, Windmill Point upgrades and York Cove beautification and area upgrades. 

Three members of the public spoke during public question time about the motion. 

John Austin spoke against the motion because of the council’s current deficit and existing $1.5 million borrowings. He said he did not feel the council needed this debt because there were other projects and facilities in the town already available. 

Mr Austin also asked why the decision to reconsider the loan was not put out for public consultation before the meeting and why some things on the Regent Square draft plan were still included when the reference group had disagreed with them “right from the start”. 

Debbie Rainbow asked if the proposed York Cove works would be similar to those proposed for Regent Square and when the plans would be released for public comment. 

Mayor Bridget Archer said there had been a number of discussions over the past few years. 

“There has also been some ongoing discussion through Anglicare Communities for Children Group which has had some community engagement here in George Town,” she said. 

Another resident, Pat Webb, asked if the Regent Square playground included an autistic sensory playground. 

General manager Justine Brooks-Bedelph said there were no confirmed plans yet, but hadn’t planned a sensory playground.