Glebe decision

The almost unanimous decision by Mt Barker Councillors to protect the Glebe – an undeveloped block of land on the outskirts of Littlehampton – from being sold is a prime example of democracy at its best … but it is yet to be seen if the process has delivered the best result.
For years the community has longed for the Mt Barker Council-owned land to be opened to the public as a place for passive recreation. On Monday night their voices were heard as Councillors voted for the entire 8ha to be protected from sale.
The council staff had wanted to sell some of the site for community use such as aged care accommodation in order to raise funds to develop the remainder.
Originally it was 4ha but over the months and a series of meetings it was gradually whittled down to 2ha, an area deemed large enough to fund part of the  development but small enough to still allow for a decent recreation space.
But that plan was rejected by the elected members who, with substantial community support behind them, gave the people exactly what they wanted.
Or did they?
The community now has an 8ha parcel of grazing land for its recreational pleasure but the council has limited resources with  which to deliver it.
There is a possibility that another 1.7ha parcel of vacant council-owned land on nearby Fulford Terrace could be sold to fund the project, but that outcome is far from assured.
The latest proposal by council staff was to quarantine a 2ha parcel of Glebe land as security in case Plan B – the Fulford Terrace plan – fell through.
But the councillors rejected that idea, seven votes to one, raising the possibility that the full 8ha could remain exactly as it is – a cow paddock – for many years to come if the money for a full development can’t be found.
The risk the councillors took on Monday night was delivering democracy … potentially at the detriment of the people.
They might have delivered a developed 6ha park complete with paths, open space, a barbecue area and a small oval but what the community has now is a long way short of that.
Everything may work out for the best in the fullness of time but the elected members took a risk on Monday.
Let’s hope it was worth it.