You’re joking! Mahood rejects bikie report

A FORMER Wodonga mayor has blasted council staff over their reasoning for knocking back an outlaw bikie clubhouse.

Cr Lisa Mahood last night said she struggled with a recommendation from planners based largely on looks rather than why the Gypsy Jokers headquarters wasn’t suited to a West Wodonga industrial estate.

She was the only councillor to vote against rejecting the plans.

North East Investments, whose principal is former Gypsy Joker president Brett Collins, wanted to build a two-storey Colorbond and concrete panel building with 110 motorbike parking spaces on Elkington Road.

The nearest house was 450 metres away.

The near-windowless building was to be leased to the Gypsy Jokers to relocate their clubrooms from East Wodonga.

The club also hoped to transfer its liquor licence to its new home.

Council officers cited 10 reasons as to why the plans should be rejected.

But Cr Mahood said she could find only one of relevance.

“It’s been a difficult journey and while I acknowledge the work the officers have done, I really struggle to support the recommendation based on the way the report has been written,” she said.

“I feel that far more attention and focus has been around the built form and not enough around why this facility would not be an appropriate use in the zone.

“I struggle when out of the 10 points listed as reasons for rejecting the plan, only one refers to the use.

“And then on page 54 (of the council agenda) the officers say that significant traffic and amenity issues are unlikely to arise from this development.

“Based on the information provided to me, I struggle to support the recommendation.”

Cr Anna Speedie accepted the recommendation to reject the plan but also highlighted the deficiencies in a report that had taken six months to come before councillors.

But she said noise from the clubhouse and motorbikes was a key concern for residents.

Mayor Mark Byatt also acknowledged Cr Mahood’s claims but said the planned clubhouse did not fit with the long-term plan for the industrial estate.