Coffs man George Partos burns rates in protest of Cultural and Civic Space

Coffs Harbour ratepayer George Partos has taken a stand against Council’s plans to proceed with the Cultural and Civic Space project, by publicly burning his Council rates notice outside Council Chambers on Monday morning.


LONGTIME Coffs Harbour ratepayer George Partos is so incensed that Coffs Harbour City Council is proceeding with the $76.5 million Cultural and Civic Space project despite widespread community opposition, that he publicly burned his rates outside of Council on Monday.

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Mr Partos, a former businessman now retired, has been a Coffs Harbour resident since 1981 and said the burning of his current Council rates notice outside Coffs Harbour City Council Chambers on Monday morning was a symbolic way of expressing his opposition to Council’s plans to continue with the Cultural and Civic Space project.

His Council rates were due to be paid on Wednesday.

Mr Partos said he was extremely perplexed to find that Council was still intending to proceed with the controversial Cultural and Civic Space project, after returning to the region last week from an extended caravanning holiday.

“Because I am so upset that the Council still persists with this colossal waste of our money, even though the majority have demonstrated they are opposed to it, I am refusing to pay my rates until the project is stopped or the next election where the democratic will of the people can be honoured,” Mr Partos said.

“I feel that I ought to make a stand about it.

“The Council are still spending a ridiculous amount of money on consulting, and they are still moving along with this ridiculous idea.”

Mr Partos had a stall at a local market a few months ago and said 99 percent of people who visited the stall were against the project.

“The vast majority don’t want this to go ahead and it’s a complete waste of money, and our elected representatives should be reflecting that,” Mr Partos said.

“I think it hits on the very core of what free society is all about, what democracy is all about.”

Mr Partos said Coffs Harbour City councillors had betrayed the people of Coffs Harbour.

“They should be ashamed of themselves,” he said.

“I have been very upset about what I consider the core principle of democracy abused at a local level.”

Mr Partos has written to local councillors about his intention to burn his rates and refusal to pay them, and his opposition to the project.

According to Mr Partos, his issue with the project is not about Council building a new library and art gallery which he stated were “important” cultural facilities, but his main gripe was with the inclusion of the new Council offices within the complex.

“To build their own Taj Mahal is so self indulgent and so egotistical, it’s just ridiculous,” he said.

Mr Partos urged all other local ratepayers who are also opposed to Council’s plans to build the Cultural and Civic Space building to express their opposition to the project by signing an e-petition currently in circulation.

The e-petition titled ‘Put a pause on the Cultural and Civic Space Project, Coffs Harbour’ calls on the NSW Government to direct Coffs Harbour City Council to pause its Cultural and Civic Space project until after the next local government elections.

“We need to get 20,000 signatures,” Mr Partos said.

Mr Partos had the burning of his rates filmed by his wife and intends to upload the video to Facebook and YouTube to further publicly demonstrate his opposition to the project.

The development application for the project is currently being assessed by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

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