Gympie council's Planning and Development has been at the centre of a heated debate between business owners and the council.
Gympie council's Planning and Development has been at the centre of a heated debate between business owners and the council. Renee Albrecht

Ceasefire: Gympie Chamber wades into council/business feud

GYMPIE Chamber of Commerce has called for a ceasefire in the "heated" debate ignited by last week's controversial "open letter" criticising the council.

In a message posted on the chamber's Facebook page yesterday afternoon, the group called for calm in the community after a week of attacks from both sides.

"There have been many 'shots fired' in the past few weeks but now is the time for calm," the post said.

The full page "open letter" was written by a group of business owners who said they were "in fear of retribution by council" if named.

In the letter they criticised the planning department and said new business hopefuls were walking away and shaking their heads in "pure frustration" at how the conversations had gone.

 

Chamber of Commerce president Tony Goodman welcomes about 130 guests to the Chamber business breakfast, held at the Gympie Civic Centre.
Chamber of Commerce president Tony Goodman adrresses the business community. Arthur Gorrie

The letter and the writers themselves then came under attack. Corbet's Group owner Al Corbet denounced the letter as a "low blow for the community" and killing the community's spirit.

Now the chamber has asked everyone to take a breath and remember what's at stake.

"Robust debate is an integral part of society and it is heartening for our town to see such passion for the betterment of the Gympie Region," the post said.

"What is important to acknowledge in this situation is the people in the middle of these debates.

"Real people with families and we must always maintain respect for each other."

 

Aerial photograph of Gympie city showing the area around Fiveways at the intersection of Mary, Mellor and Lawrence Sts and Calton and Caledonian Hills.
Gympie. contributed

Chamber secretary Sharlene Makin said she was "surprised" at how hot the debate had become.

However, Ms Makin did note "this only happens with people who are extremely frustrated".

She hoped people who did have concerns would bring them to the chamber so they work on addressing them in a proactive way.

"We're here to help everyone and we want to see a win-win," Ms Makin said.

"Now is the time to pull together."

 

Power 30 Sharlene Makin.
GCOC secretary Sharlene Makin. Renee Albrecht

And the chamber's post said there had been some movement forward in addressing the business community's concerns about the town planning department.

Meetings last week with the council were "fruitful", the post said, and work had begun on a plan to change the region for the better.

"We received assurances that we will have finer detail on the plan from the GRC prior to our July 18 chamber breakfast.

"Our president, Tony Goodman, will summarise the plan from the GRC in his opening speech at the breakfast," the post said.

Issues with the planning department were first raised at the May Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

They were raised again last month at a business breakfast organised jointly by the chamber and the council.

Obstructive planning responses were a leading concern at every table at that last breakfast.