Council fight ends with $45k bill for Woolooga businessman

16th December 2017 5:15 AM
Woolooga resident Barry Hawke has been left frustrated by a fight with council which left him with a $45,000 bill and a lot of questions. Woolooga resident Barry Hawke has been left frustrated by a fight with council which left him with a $45,000 bill and a lot of questions. Renee Albrecht

A FOUR-year battle with Gympie Regional Council over a drain has left Woolooga man Barry Hawke with a $45,000 bill and a lot of questions.

Having been through court over erosion concerns behind his shop he said was caused when council work shifted the drain's outflow onto his property, Mr Hawke said he is frustrated by what he sees as the council having applied different rules to him than to themselves.

One of these was questions about the development application he was forced to submit over the work he did to try to solve the problem himself.

While Mr Hawke had moved more than 100cum of earth from behind his shop (which requires a DA), a letter from the council said their own work did not need an application as they had only dug up and moved about 90cum of dirt which was put behind Woolooga Hall.

However, according to a design report for the work Mr Hawke was given by council through right to information, the amount taken out was about 150cum.

He was also confused why he was referred to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries at a cost of $6000 for a water barrier work permit, but no State Government approval was applied for by the council for its own work, which he said fits the description given to him by the DAF.

Asked about the differences, a council spokeswoman said they were unable to comment.

"This matter has been subject to an investigation by the ombudsman, the investigation has been finalised, however, Gympie Regional Council cannot comment due to confidentiality," she said.

Mr Hawke said he hoped the ombudsman and other authorities would take a second look at the case given the discrepancies which had been found since it was closed.

And while he was happy that the offending pipe would finally be extended, he was not completely satisfied with the outcome.

Plansmart director Mike Hartley questioned the process which Mr Hawke and his wife had to endure.

"Why did it take a court case and three years for the council to do what it should have done as part of the original infrastructure installation?," Mr Hartley said.

"He had waited and waited and waited for the pipe to be extended, and requested it... it didn't happen, so he went and did it."