Latrobe City Council takes on Telstra

A MOVE by Latrobe City councillors to send Telstra a “strong message” fell flat this week, after an attempt to scuttle current plans for a new communications tower failed to muster enough support.

Plans by Telstra to erect a 30 metre tower at the Traralgon Greyhound Racing Club faced councillor scrutiny at Monday night’s regular meeting, before mayor Dale Harriman led a charge to block a related planning permit application.

The tower’s proposed location at the facility’s eastern end would be in full view of residents along McNairn Road and beyond.

However, Cr Harriman said Telstra should consider other realistic options for the tower’s location, including a site at the track’s western end abutting storage facilities.

Despite only receiving two objections, Cr Harriman said he was objecting to the permit on the grounds of ‘principle’, citing the need to “send Telstra a strong message” it could not take the community for granted.

“This is about sending Telstra a message they need to listen to their residents… it wouldn’t do Telstra any harm to meet resident’s needs,” Cr Harriman said.

Councillor Graeme Middlemiss supported the objection, describing the situation as an “exercise in failed community relations”.

The planning permit application, as recommended by council’s planning department, was voted down five votes to four.

However, in an unusual development, an alternative motion to explicitly refuse the application fell through, after the nine councillors became evenly split on the issue when councillor Kellie O’Callaghan abstained from voting.

Cr O’Callaghan said she abstained as the full implications of the permit’s refusal were not properly discussed before voting.

Meanwhile, councillor Darrell White voiced concerns about the needs of the Greyhound Racing Club, which had hoped to install track lighting on the proposed tower to illuminate its car park as part of an ongoing redevelopment.

The matter will be heard again at council’s next regular meeting.

Telstra was approached for comment.