Eurobodalla Shire Mayor Lindsay Brown says he will not stand down, despite pressure from some residents and other councillors to do so.
“I am not standing down; I am not taking that advice. The community elected me as mayor in 2012 for a four-year period and they will have me for a four-year period,” Cr Brown said.
“I have also been buoyed by support by some members of the community and I am leading this council in the correct direction regarding the flying foxes. While some in the community may be making those comments, others are equally supportive of my position.”
This follows a heated community information session on the flying foxes in Batemans Bay on May 16, where several ratepayers called for Cr Brown to resign.
Cr Milton Leslight has also called for Cr Brown’s resignation over the flying fox issue.
The flying foxes have been in the Batemans Bay Water Garden since about 2012. There were an estimated 20,000 until recent months, when the camp boomed to more than 120,000 and spread to other suburbs.
Asked if the council should have acted on dispersal three years ago, Cr Brown told Fairfax Media he had no regrets.
“When we did our consultation and camp management plan, it was done in a moment in time and since then we have had an unprecedented quadrupling of the number of flying foxes, which could not have been foreseen due to the extraordinary nature of the flowering blooms that are available for food,” he said.
“The process the council went through was the correct process … the circumstances have obviously changed.
“Hindsight is 20/20 and, of course, people can make comment as they see fit. However, I believe council and the advice we received from the independent committee, the agencies and the members of the community that participated in the camp management plan was sound at the time.
“To consider that there would have been the largest population of flying foxes in Australia in the CBD in the middle of Batemans Bay is unprecedented.
“To be able to foresee that as an issue would have been difficult considering we are in uncharted waters,” he said.
“I am interested in the decision that was made at that time. It was stated at the time that council, the community and the experts in the field had advised us in that manner.”
Council cleared vegetation and offered residents living around the Water Garden car covers in 2015 and early 2016.
Cr Brown said since the May 16 meeting, the council had entered into an environmental agreement with the federal government.
“There are conditions on that agreement that the protection is only available up until the first of August (2016),” he said.
“So that is when we have to be finished dispersal by. That is the date we have.”