Dennis and Vicki Fry on the land they have been trying to develop for six years.
Dennis and Vicki Fry on the land they have been trying to develop for six years. Sharyn O'Neill

Couple to lose everything after seven-year council battle

ALMOST seven years after Dennis and Vicki Fry began developing a parcel of land in Parkhurst, they will today have the property auctioned off by their bank for failing to meet payments.

Since making a development application to council to subdivide the land in 2006, the Townsville couple have lost their business, life savings, investment properties, family home and life insurance.

They blame Rockhampton Regional Council for years of what Vicki described to councillors yesterday as "bullying" and "incompetence".

She held nothing back, except her tears, when she made a public deputation at council chambers, telling councillors they should hang their heads in shame for what she alleges is their role in the debacle.

The couple have felt so bullied that Dennis has succumbed to depression and they have sought assistance from the Crime and Misconduct Commission and the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee.

CEO Evan Pardon had to leave the room while Vicki spoke as he could be the decision maker in the investigation that has resulted from their complaint.

Vicki spoke for herself and Dennis, explaining her husband's fragile health had left him unable to speak publicly.

She accused council of not being upfront about problems with the property at their first meeting in May 2006 and of making unfair demands when they approved the application years later.

Vicki said council had given them a nine-page list of conditions for the land, which would cost them $2million.

But as the financial and emotional burden grew too much, the pair sought to sell the land, only to have eight contracts fall through.

The couple attributed the failed contracts to negativity spread to buyers by council.

Mayor Margaret Strelow defended council's officers, saying she was sure they had not deliberately behaved badly.

Cr Strelow repeatedly warned the couple she would ask them to leave if they made any defamatory allegations.

When Vicki's allotted time ended, Cr Strelow asked her to finish. But councillors and people in the public gallery called for Vicki to have more time to speak.

A number of disgusted Rockhampton residents and business people, several of whom have already felt burnt by council, filled the council chambers in support of the Frys.

Ron Busby, the Busby Group commercial manager, objected when Cr Strelow told Vicki to stop speaking.

"The truth will be lost if you don't listen to these people," Mr Busby yelled.

Vicki was allowed to continue her deputation and Cr Strelow offered to speak with the Frys personally.

The offer came as a surprise to Dennis and Vicki, who have attempted to make contact with the mayor by phone and email repeatedly.

They said they would be happy to speak with her, but were unsure what it would achieve at this period in time.

Dennis said he is now being investigated by the CMC after council made a complaint about him.

But council refused to confirm or deny if they had made a complaint to the CMC, instead referring The Morning Bulletin to the CMC.

However, the CMC does not comment unless their complainant, in this case council, makes their complaint publicly known.



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