Liberal MP Bill Tilley hits out at Wodonga Council over its approach to business, Junction Place

WODONGA Council needs to stop telling businesses what to do, according to the member for Benambra.

Bill Tilley also would have liked Junction Place planning powers stripped from the council.

“They're too bloody prescriptive, they like to tell business how to run business,” the Liberal MP said.

Mr Tilley is specifically concerned with the development of Junction Place and feels the council should “open doors” to developer Clinton Williams rather than be critical.

Dissatisfied: Bill Tilley believes Wodonga Council interferes too much with business in the city.

Dissatisfied: Bill Tilley believes Wodonga Council interferes too much with business in the city.

“When you put your money up yourself and not the ratepayers' money well you're welcome to it,” he said.

“You're not building utopia, this is private investment and that's why so many times we've seen private business walk away and go somewhere else.”

Wodonga mayor Anna Speedie rejected Mr Tilley’s criticism that the city was meddling in business operations by being prescriptive.

“That’s never been something I’ve seen council do, it’s not council’s business,” Cr Speedie said.

“Businesses run businesses, however we can assist them whether that’s through the state government or connecting to other businesses.

“We can play the role of facilitator, but we’re not a business and have never claimed to be a business.”

Mr Tilley says the status of the Junction Place redevelopment should have resulted in the council being chopped out of planning approvals.

“This won't make the City of Wodonga happy, but I think….it should have been taken off council, I think the planning for this precinct the council shouldn't be the planning authority,” he said.

“They should be consulted and they should be having their input, but this is the nuts and bolts of it, those planners aren't in regional Victoria.

“It should be a mix of public-private sector with some really strong robust planning knowledge going into that space.

“That is a state development.”

Cr Speedie said the council had a statutory responsibility to enforce and uphold planning rules and reflect the views of what the community wants in the heart of the city.

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