Social cafe causes on air fight
THE two leading protagonists in the potentially explosive stoush over former mayor Margaret Strelow's planning application for a social cafe sparred over the airwaves yesterday.
Mayor Brad Carter was taking calls on Michael J Bailey's morning show on 4RO when his chief critic, Ken Hay, called in.
Businessman Mr Hay is threatening to complain to the Crime and Misconduct Commission over the way Rockhampton Regional Council has handled Mrs Strelow's application to convert a former electrical store in Bolsover St into a take-away with a social conscience.
Yesterday's Morning Bulletin outlined Mr Hay's allegations of favouritism towards Mrs Strelow and what he claims have been irregularities in dealing with a proposal which the council's own planning officers recommended for refusal.
Cr Carter has defended the council's actions and maintains the process to consider Mrs Strelow's application and the objections to it has been fair and transparent.
He told the radio show host that “Ken Hay has a number of statements that he may regret in time”. He said the timber merchant, whose warehouse is directly opposite the site in question, had become a nuisance and it would never be possible to satisfy him.
Cr Carter vowed he would not be bullied or intimidated by Mr Hay's threats and claims and revealed that when the council wrote to those who had submitted objections to Mrs Strelow's plan, about a dozen were returned as “not known at this address”.
“You wonder if these people really exist.”
When he came on air Mr Hay immediately demanded an apology from the mayor for saying he had first accepted and then declined an opportunity to address a council meeting on the matter.
Although they were polite, their breakfast time clash was prickly and awkward.
Mr Hay challenged Cr Carter to a face-to-face discussion over a coffee, and when he was invited to the mayor's office he insisted it should be on neutral ground.
“It's my shout,” he said, but the pair couldn't even agree on that. Cr Carter said he would pay for his own coffee because to accept a cup from Mr Hay might be misconstrued.
“In that case I'll bring my five-year-old grandson along and he can pick up the bill,” said Mr Hay.
The meeting will be tomorrow morning at a city centre cafe, though it is hard to see what it will resolve.