Alleged council bias reviewed

A PRIVATE company has been engaged to investigate allegations that council planning officers have shown favouritism to some developers.

The inquiry stems from a number of complaints about Rockhampton Regional Council's planning department which were forwarded to the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

The Morning Bulletin understands that the CMC asked council chief executive Evan Pardon to undertake the investigation and he has passed the complaints to a third party to ensure independence and impartiality.

One of the complaints arises from the treatment of an application by Dennis and Vicki Fry to put 50 homes on the site of a former scrap yard at Parkhurst.

Mr and Mrs Fry first submitted their application in 2006 and they have claimed that obstacles placed in their way by council planning staff have left them teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

Their land remains undeveloped and so far they have been unable to sell it.

They allege that they have been discriminated against, but it is understood that others have complained that some developers have been given favourable treatment and that a number of matters are being investigated.

Mr Pardon will be required to produce a thorough report for the CMC which will then decide if there has been any illegality.

Meanwhile Mr and Mrs Fry, who live in Townsville, have issued a statement criticising Mayor Brad Carter over his comments in a story published by The Morning Bulletin last month.

Defending the council over the long-running saga of the Frys' development application, Cr Carter said it was not the role of planning staff to tell developers how to design a subdivision.

He said it was up to applicants to bring forward proposals drawn up by "skilled, professional consultants".

The Frys say the inference was that the professionals they had employed were not up to scratch.

"The consultants we have employed over the past six years are skilled, professional consultants. One has been in business for approximately 39 years and does contract work for the council," said Mr Fry.

"All the consultants we have employed have worked for councils at some time. Does the mayor realise that some of our consultants are employed by his council?"

Mr Fry claimed one of the consultants "walked away from our development due to the council's inefficient and unresponsive handling".

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