Wyong mayor gets Order of Australia

Picture: Doug EatonTHE Wyong mayor whose family company has run a timber manufacturing business for years either without council consent, or without complying with approval conditions, has won an Order of Australia Medal for services to local government.

Doug Eaton appears in the Australia Day Honours List as questions are being asked about the council’s handling of the business at Ruttleys Road, Mannering Park, which has run for nearly a decade without an occupation certificate, and is yet to comply with a road access condition which was the subject of a Land and Environment Court direction in 2006.

The Order of Australia Medal surprised former Wyong deputy mayor and real estate agent Paul Levick, who praised Mr Eaton as a man who had ‘‘taken Wyong Council ahead in leaps and bounds’’ since becoming mayor in 2012, but said people were entitled to ask questions about the Ruttleys Road business.

‘‘I don’t understand how it’s happened and why it’s at the stage that it is,’’ Mr Levick said.

The council is yet to determine an Eaton & Sons application lodged in July 2012 to substantially reduce access works from Ruttleys Road to the business on former power station land which were required under a 2010 council approval. Under a 2006 Land and Environment Court settlement the company was required to complete the works within six months of the approval.

The company was forced to lodge a development application in 2007, more than two years after establishing the business on land which was not zoned for commercial use.

In a statement last week the council said it had not taken action against Eaton & Sons to comply with the access condition, despite acknowledging Ruttleys Road had a history of fatal crashes, because it had a policy of not taking compliance action while it considered applications to modify approvals.

Fire and Rescue NSW sent a report to Wyong Council last week after inspecting the Mannering Park site and finding it did not fully comply with an emergency fire safety order issued in 2011.

In a statement today Mr Eaton said he hoped the recognition would shine a spotlight on the area and encourage more government funding.

“I feel absolutely honoured and also very humbled to be receiving this award. I feel a bit overwhelmed,” Mr Eaton said.

“I certainly did not expect to be honoured for my work within the community and doing something I love.”

“Many local people do outstanding voluntary work in the community and are just as deserving.”

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