Council take local to court
KEITH Kelley doesn't know grazier Allen Rea, but he reckons he knows a case of persecution when he sees it.
And Keith, who lives in Munro Street in Park Avenue, believes the best way to show the Vietnam veteran his support is to let the grass grow under his feet.
Mr Rea will be back in court on April 12 to face two charges brought by Rockhampton Regional Council for trespass and working without a permit after using his own money and machinery to grade a 14km section of Stanage Bay Road.
Keith is refusing to mow the footpath outside his home and he's urging people across the region to join his protest.
“Grass footpaths are owned by the council and it relies on the community spirit of everyone to keep them tidy.
“But the council is ignoring the community spirit of Mr Rea, and until it drops the court action I won't be mowing,” he said.
“My feeling is that a lot of people have sympathy for Mr Rea and this is a way of showing it.”
The council's case is that Mr Rea caused $80,000 damage to the road when he took it upon himself to smooth out the ruts and potholes.
If he's found guilty Mr Rea faces fines up to $60,000, but he intends to mount a robust defence to the charges.
“Technically Mr Rea might have done the wrong thing, but his treatment has been very bad,” said Keith
“There should be some common sense here. It seems to me that the council has decided to play everything by the book rather than show any discretion, fair play and community spirit.
“I want to see an end to the court action and for the council to reach an amicable agreement with Mr Rea.
“I don't know him personally, but I'm fired up. If the council loses, ratepayers are going to be landed with a huge bill.
“Show the council how you feel ... don't mow,” he said.