The dissatisfaction of some citizens with Eurobodalla Shire Council hit a crescendo at the Concerned Batemans Bay Citizens Group meeting at Batemans Bay Soldiers Club on Saturday.
More than 500 people filled the club’s auditorium, including Bega MP Andrew Constance, Eden-Monaro MP Peter Hendy and Eurobodalla Shire Councillors Milton Leslight and Liz Innes,.
Master of ceremonies John Hickman said he was filling in for his brother, Maloneys Beach Residents’ Association president Peter Hickman.
“The feeling is that Batemans Bay isn’t keeping up with other South Coast towns in employment and as a desirable place to live,” he said.
“It is not attracting new businesses it needs to make it a vibrant place.”
However, Mr Hickman said he wanted the meeting to be about “issues, not personalities.”
Batemans Bay businessman Alan Imrie said that his main concern was council’s “lack of consultation with citizens about change.”
Moruya resident Damien Rogers said that the problem was state-wide, and all councils were financially unsustainable and controlled by the state government, which did not want power to go to local communities.
Batemans Bay businessman Mark Flack called for Batemans Bay to form a city council.
“We are big enough to form a City of Batemans Bay council,” he said.
“Why stick with the local council model when it doesn’t work?”
He also called for the sacking of three-quarters of Eurobodalla Shire Council’s managerial staff, and said that business people from outside the Eurobodalla recognised Batemans Bay as a bad place to start a business.
Former council employee Kerry Foster said that council’s community strategic plan was unaffordable and that there needed to be a rationalising of council staff numbers.
Batemans Bay DJ Matt O’Brien, aged in his 20s, said there was nothing for young people to do, and that young people who wanted to party were pushed out of the town to places where they were not supervised.
“Batemans Bay is such a beautiful place, but there is nothing for my generation here,” he said.
“One retirement home single-handedly killed the night life for my age group.
“You have to look at where it starts, and that is with the youth.”
The option of council amalgamation was prominent in advertising for the meeting, but those who did speak about it urged caution or warned against it.