Redland City Mayor Karen Williams has thanked the Groom family, operators of the Stradbroke Flyer, for agreeing to correct misleading and damaging public claims about the treatment of the family business.
Cr Williams, Division 2 Councillor Craig Ogilvie, Member for Cleveland Dr Mark Robinson, Council officers and Department of Transport and Main Roads officers met with the Groom family on Friday to clear up inaccuracies about the Toondah Harbour dredge program and alleged bias against the family business.
“It is important that the public gets the facts. The State Government has provided $6 million in funding for the dredging of Victoria Point and Toondah Harbour and this commitment will include dredging to the boundary of the Stradbroke Flyer lease,” Cr Williams said.
“Council and the State Government have been subjected to wildly inaccurate and damaging claims in both the media and at the ferry facilities, about Toondah Harbour dredging plans, One Mile ferry fees and parking, and an alleged conspiracy against the family business.
“There was no conspiracy. I am pleased the operators have apologised for the inaccurate information provided to the public, and committed to removing the misleading billboards and flyers from company facilities, and to retract wrong claims, including those made to the media and the Premier
“Council has been extremely supportive towards the operations of the Stradbroke Flyer services.
“I hope the agreement reached with the Groom family will now go some way to restoring damaged public perceptions. Council is committed to continuing to assist Stradbroke Flyer. “
Cr Williams said that, with the assistance of Dr Robinson, she had been calling on the State Government to expedite the dredging approvals for Toondah Harbour.
“Under their lease agreements with the State Government, commercial operators are responsible for the cost of dredging within the boundaries of their marine leases,” she said.
“There was no conspiracy, quite the opposite. Council and the Queensland Government have been working to expedite the dredging work and continue to work to address the parking problems at One Mile on North Stradbroke Island.”
The Stradbroke Flyer service currently uses a major part of the $3.2 million public recreation pontoon built in 2010 by the state government at One Mile on North Stradbroke Island.
“While this facility and adjoining carpark area were not intended as an exclusive commercial facility, Council is keen to work with the operator and the State Government to overcome resulting difficulties such as parking and bus access for passengers,” Cr Williams said.
“It is also worth noting that historically neither the State nor Council intended the One Mile area to become a large scale public transport facility.
“Lease fees paid by commercial operators to the State are collected by the Council and returned to the government. The fees are then available for major structural or safety repairs on the jetty.
“Redland City ratepayers currently heavily subsidise the total cost to operate the One Mile facility utilised by the Groom family business.
“Council has adopted a plan to reduce this subsidy over five years to achieve cost recovery for One Mile and other facilities across the city.
“This phase-in plan as well as removing the need for continued ratepayer subsidisation also prevents ferry companies being slugged with dramatic fee increases.”
Cr Williams said Council would seek State Government support for improvements to the One Mile parking situation.
“Council is committed to working with the State Government to support improvements at Toondah Harbour as a Priority Development Area (PDA) and a key part of the mainland and Island economy,” she said.
“The PDA vision for Toondah Harbour is intended to encourage the growth in services and facilities offered on both the mainland and North Stradbroke Island with the likely impact of an increase in the demand for multiple transport providers and not a monopoly service as had been claimed.”