Judgement closer

At last we have had news from our solicitors about an imminent judgement on our Appeal!

We were told on Wednesday, the 16th of April, that it will be delivered in the Planning and Environment Court in Brisbane one day during the week beginning 5th May. We don’t have the actual date yet, but at least we know it will be soon.

As soon as the judgement has been handed down, I will communicate the outcome through the media and our website. After that, our committee will meet to plan some kind of public gathering to thank all our supporters (and either commiserate or celebrate together!).

With many thanks for your ongoing support and patience.

February 2014 Update

By now, we had hoped that the judgement on our Appeal might have been delivered, but alas, there is no news as yet. Our solicitors have told me recently that there is no way we can ‘predict’ when the Judge might be ready, so we must continue to remain patient – it could be weeks or even months before we hear!

Meanwhile, we continue to watch with interest some of the decisions of the Toowoomba Regional Council, aware that other groups are trying to call the TRC to account as well as challenge some of its decisions. The problem is that once planning permission has been given to a development, the only way to stop it is a legal (and very costly) appeal. The TRC knows that few people have either the money or the stomach for such a fight, which gives it an extraordinary position of power when it comes to planning decisions.

The most effective thing ratepayers can do is campaign against prospective development applications before they are voted on by Council, and to that end, I commend to you the newly formed ‘Ratepayers’ Association’ led by Frank Ondrus. If it can establish a large email base, it would then be possible for 100s if not 1,000s of people to send submissions to the TRC objecting to development applications deemed unsuitable or unnecessary. Doubtless, there will be more said in the media about the Association and any public meetings it plans to hold, so watch out for such announcements.

Once we have a judgement in our Appeal, we still plan to hold a public function to thank our supporters, so details will be communicated via the website and email – it will be held on a Sunday afternoon in the gardens/Hall at St Luke’s Church.

Our Trial is over

Finally I can report that the Trial is over – final submissions were heard a week ago and the Judge has now retired to consider his verdict. Out solicitors will contact us the day before the judgement is delivered to let us know it is happening (they won’t know until the day before!). After that, I shall write an update for all our supporters and of course, the media will be contacted with the news.

 

To date, the cost of the whole Appeal process has been far more than we ever imagined. In fact, our legal and expert bills have amounted to $280,000 and there will be one small bill to come for December. Thankfully, we received $50,000 from public donations to help pay all the expert and legal fees, but the rest has come from the pockets of several of the Appellants and members of the FOTTR Committee. Without their generosity, we could not have continued with the Appeal, so I am deeply grateful to those who have made considerable personal sacrifices to ensure that the bills were paid.

 

The committee members have discussed holding some kind of community gathering (once the verdict is known) to thank our supporters, and am pleased to say that St Luke’s Church will be happy to host us there. We will let you know details via the website and the media, and hope that whether we win or lose, you might come and join us on that occasion (likely to be sometime in January). Regardless of the decision, at the very least we have stopped a full set of traffic lights being built at the top of the Range!

 

With every good wish to you and your families for Christmas and the New Year,

 

Evidence finalised

20th November: the Court completed hearing the evidence in our Appeal and now the barristers will prepare their final submissions. It is hoped that the Judge will be available to hear these submissions on Friday 6th December, but that won’t be confirmed until the day before, as it depends on the progress of other Court hearings at which he is presiding. If the presentation of the submissions can’t take place on 6th December, the barristers will most likely have to wait until the New Year. In any case, it is highly unlikely that the Judge will deliver his judgement until late January or February.

I cannot comment on any of the Court proceedings, but very generally, we feel that the way our evidence was presented gave veracity to the arguments we have mounted over this past year, and reflected the public sentiment about this development. We are very thankful to our legal team for all their hard work and expert guidance over these past months, and high praise must also go the members of the FOTTR Committee for giving so much of their time and energy to expedite the Appeal.

It has been encouraging too, to see the ongoing media interest in our campaign and for the way that members of various media organisations have been keen to report it.

Now we must wait until ‘judgement day’ and hope that in the New Year we will be able to deliver good news to our supporters.

By the end of this whole campaign, the legal and expert fees will have amounted to nearly $250,000. We have not paid our Trial bill so any contributions would be welcome – see our website fottr.org for details.

It is salutary to realise that the ratepayers of Toowoomba and surrounds would have spent an equal amount defending the decision to approve the development! To that end, it was very disappointing that none of the Councillors attended the Court in Brisbane to hear the evidence being presented.

With very best wishes and thanks for your ongoing support.

Court Case continues

After nearly five days in Court, our case was adjourned yesterday as there was still evidence to be heard.

As well, the barristers need time to give their summaries. One more day is needed for the Hearing and it is likely that the Court will resume for this day on November 19th but that is yet to be confirmed.

I cannot comment on the evidence, but suffice to say that our legal team presented our arguments as strongly as possible and we hope that it will be sufficient to convince the Judge. After all the evidence has been heard, the Judge will retire to consider all the arguments; he may make a judgement before Christmas but that is not guaranteed, so we may be waiting for some weeks to know the verdict.

For your information, the legal bill for October (trial preparation) was just under $46,000!!! Donations are still very much welcome. We will also have much more to pay for the Trial. Thus far, all these costs are being borne by the members of the FOTTR committee.

Our day almost here

Our day in court is imminent with the hearing scheduled to begin in the Planning and Environment Court on Monday 4th November and continuing for five days. Each day, proceedings will begin at 10.00am and end between 4.00pm-5.00pm. Visitors are welcome in the Court room, but seating is limited so if you intend to come, the advice is to arrive early. Our hearing will take place at the Law Courts at 415 George St, Brisbane

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Last week all the legal evidence was exchanged by the solicitors, and the Judge and barristers made a site visit this week to inspect area.
The Judge is unlikely to deliver his verdict for some weeks so we will be waiting on ‘tenterhooks’ until that time!
We are thankful for the excellent coverage given to our campaign by the local media, and deeply appreciate the ongoing support of hundreds of ratepayers.
To date, we have spent $130,000 on the Appeal, and the estimated cost of the Trial is $80,000-$100,000, so we are continuing to appeal to our supporters for financial help as we embark on this final stage of our campaign.

TWU Supports FoTTR

Our Appeal Hearing in the Planning and Environment Court is only a month away (begins on 4th November) and meanwhile our legal team is busy preparing the brief for our barrister.

Some good news last week was that the Transport Workers’ Union came out publicly in support of our campaign. Mr Scott Connolly, the TWU Assistant State Secretary and I did some joint media interviews adjacent to the Herries/Cohoe St.s intersection, in which we emphasised the concerns we have about motorist and pedestrian safety. Mr Connolly pointed out the particular dangers of the planned reconfiguration of the intersection (with the likely increase in pedestrians) for heavy vehicle operators. He was also deeply concerned about the impact of the no-stopping signs that will be required on both sides of Cohoe St, as there will be no safe place for drivers to stop after ascending the Range (in the event for example of an engine problem or load shift).

It is not too late to voice your concerns to the media in the form of a letter to the Editor of the Chronicle or an SMS so if you have not yet done so, I encourage you to write and express your views.

While we have been encouraged and humbled by the extent of financial support we have received for our campaign, we expect the Trial to cost a further $80,000, and would of course really appreciate further financial support from those who are in a position to help us.

Donations can be made by cheque (made out to The Friends of the Toowoomba Range) and posted to PO Box 11336, Centenary Heights, QLD, 4350 or by direct deposit to our account at The Heritage Bank, The Range, Toowoomba – BSB No 638080 Acc No. 12971111 S24

FOTTR Trial Starts 4th November

We have just received news that the Trial for our Appeal will be held in the Planning and Environment Court in Brisbane from 4th - 8th November. The proceedings will begin at 10.00am each day and the Court will be open to members of the public, but seating is limited so if you are interested in coming, it would be advisable to get there early.

Between now and then, our legal team will be busy preparing statements of evidence and briefing our barrister in preparation for the hearing.

Obviously we are very glad now that the date has been confirmed, but we must also set our minds to raising funds to help pay for the two remaining pre-Trial bills, as well as the Trial itself.

To that end, we are very grateful to all those who supported our dinner last Friday and helped to make it such a success (raising nearly $6,000 towards our legal expenses); but of course we need significantly more, so if you are in a position to help us, we would be so grateful.

Donations can be made by cheque (made out to The Friends of the Toowoomba Range) and posted to PO Box 11336, Centenary Heights, QLD, 4350 or by direct deposit to our account at The Heritage Bank, The Range, Toowoomba – BSB No 638080 Acc No. 12971111 S24

One other point I would like to make, is that contrary to what some letter writers have written in The Chronicle, our campaign has never been anti-Macca’s (or any other fast food) or anti-development. We are simply deeply concerned about this development for the following reasons:

  • It is in a residential area (which is contrary to the Town Plan) and will have an adverse impact on local residents (noise and odour).
  • We believe traffic and pedestrian safety will be severely compromised by the re-configuring of the intersection with a half traffic light and half pedestrian crossing, as well as increased congestion in Cohoe and Herries Sts.
  • There is no proven economic need for the development in an area which is very well catered for in regard to both eat in and take away food and beverages.

It is true that our campaign has cost a lot of money, but there was no other way to challenge the deeply unpopular decision of the Toowoomba Regional Council to approve the development in the first place; and do not forget that the TRC would have spent as much if not more of our money defending the Appeal. 

Fund Raising Dinner Reminder

Having made the decision to go to Trial, we have committed ourselves to more very hefty legal expenses. The bill for August has just come and it is $30,595,57 – which includes solicitors’ time as well as expert advice.

We are really hoping that the people who support our cause will dig deep now and help us with these huge bills (there will be another this month, and then the cost of the trial itself). If you are in a position to give more or know someone who could help, we would appreciate it so very much. These bills are daunting and at the moment, those of us on the FOTTR Committee have to pay most of them as donations are only trickling in.

I’m pleased to say that we have about 40 people booked in for the dinner on 13th September – it’s not too late to register, but please do so by Monday at the latest. We would love more people!

We don’t have dates for the Trial yet, but should know soon – estimated to cost $80,000 – $100,000.

FoTTR “Pre-Trial” Fund-Raising Dinner September 13 2013

“Pre-Trial” Fund-Raising Dinner Friday 13th September

Angelo’s House, 210 Herries St, Toowoomba

6.30pm for 7.00pm start.

Cost: $50 per person which includes:

Entree: Garlic Bread

Main Course: Roast Rib Fillet of Beef with roast vegetables(gluten free)

(Vegetarian option Pistachio nut & vegetable risotto – must be notified in advance)

Dessert: Alternate drop – either Strawberry Meringue Tower (gluten free) or Baked Cheesecake and Berry Coulis

Tea and Coffee included

You are welcome to BYO wine ($5.00 corkage), or buy drinks from the Bar.

There will be a multi-draw raffle – tickets sold at the door

Places are limited to 100, so bookings will be taken on a first come first served basis. To book, please email Judy Clanchy: [email protected] or phone: 0417868125

Payment at the door (cash or cheque – made out to ‘The Friends of the Toowoomba Range’) but please please please RSVP to Judy