Further challenges for Margaret Reckless, champion campaigner
In Outasite magazine (July 2021) we reported on Margaret’s ongoing saga with her operator who was busy pursuing a second attempt at terminating her site agreement at the Tribunal. This was happening in tandem with the threats addressed to “the occupier” from third party electricity retailer Humenergy. Humenergy, as we previously reported were invited by Silva Portfolios (operator of Ballina Waterfront Village - BWV) to run their embedded electricity network after Margaret had successfully fought against unlawful overcharging for electricity. That case went all the way to the Supreme Court of NSW. Margaret has to date resisted being dragooned into becoming a direct customer of the electricity retailer Hum, as have other home owners at BWV. The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has been clear in issuing a Q&A document (January 2021) that any retailer must obtain the explicit informed consent (EIC) of a customer. If they don’t obtain the EIC the contract is void.
Now Margaret has a new and more uncertain concern to deal with.
On 15 September 2021 Ballina Shire Council granted development consent to Ardill & Partners as applicants for Silva Portfolios, the operator of BWV. Part of the redevelopment proposal and expansion of the land lease community includes, wait for it… the removal of Margaret’s home and the displacement of two other home owners - the Craig’s. Coincidentally they are the other home owners who have been involved in litigation with the operator regarding electricity overcharging and issues regarding their water utility.
The development consent granted by Council in DA 2019/743 permits refurbishment and expansion of the existing land lease community to provide a total of 87 long-term sites and one site for the manager residence/office. The proposal comprises demolition works, earthworks, removal of short-term and camping sites, removal of access from River Street, West Ballina and the construction of new driveway access from Emigrant Creek Lane. There will also be construction of new amenities and facilities, internal roadworks and car parking spaces.
In a response to a request from Ballina Council for additional information prior to the granting of consent; the applicant for BWV nonchalantly in a letter dated 7 September 2021, said the residents had protections under the RLLC Act 2013 and the BWV “operators will utilise existing tourist cabins onsite for temporary accommodation of residents while works are being undertaken until these residents’ homes are relocated. In the event that the tourist cabin is not available, alternative comparable accommodation will be sourced by the operators within the local area. This matter is now considered adequately addressed.” It is really quite breathtaking that this DA got approved when there is no statement of environmental effects and Council seemingly did not have regard to written submissions lodged by interested parties.
The BWV operator has tried on two occasions to have Margaret’s agreement terminated at NCAT (the decision from the July hearing is awaited). Margaret believes the operators actions are retaliatory. We will keep you posted on the ongoing saga of the favourite (to many of our readers) elderly campaigning resident who is not quite ready to be walked over as she faces her next challenge.