Fiery clash at Shellharbour Hub meeting

APPROXIMATELY 250 residents attended a fiery public meeting on Sunday regarding the proposed $53.9million Shellharbour City Hub project.

As the new council year kicks off, the contentious project was expected to again be a hot topic of debate at their first meeting for 2014 on Tuesday night.

Sunday's meeting, hosted by councillors Peter Moran and Kellie Marsh, was at the Oak Flats Neighbourhood Centre.

Those there heard from five councillors in attendance (Moran, Marsh, David Boyle, Helen Stewart and Deputy Mayor Paul Rankin), as well as property developer Neville Fredericks and Stop the Hub co-convenor Harry Gooden.

The reportedly sometimes rowdy meeting was marred by an alleged verbal altercation between Cr Rankin and Mr Gooden.

Mr Gooden criticised Cr Rankin's "absolutely disgusting conduct".

"I spoke, and Cr Rankin followed me," Mr Gooden said. "He was booed and asked to sit down.

"He turned around, pointed at me and said, 'you are an idiot, Harry, and I'm coming after you - you watch me mate'.

"I felt very intimidated, and my wife was concerned and broke down.

"I am taking the appropriate action; it has been reported to the police."

Cr Rankin said he would have to "cop it on the chin" with regard to any repercussions for his actions at what he described as a "very heated and loaded meeting".

"I've said it - you can't take something back," he said.

"It was very wound up on the emotion of the hub.

"They booed Helen, David and anyone who got up and who had a different... They showed a complete lack of respect for their opinion and information, if they had any message [other] than 'stop the hub'.

"There's a lot of misleading information out there - the people there I don't believe were representative of the whole community."

Cr Moran said the overwhelming mood of the meeting was that the hub was a project the community "did not want and could not afford". "Only two attendees indicated their support for the project," he said.

"This was a very positive meeting which has given the community a voice."

August looms as an important milestone for the project, when the council is due to vote on the construction contract. The project is due for completion by the end of 2016.

It will provide administration offices, library which incorporates a museum, a civic auditorium, council chambers and community meeting rooms.

On Tuesday, Cr Kellie Marsh's request for a direct method of seeking community opinion on the project was to be discussed.

The motion was initially due to be heard at the December meeting, but time ran out.

The councillors were also due to discuss Cr John Murray's four-page notice of motion, which he said outlined the project's history and the capacity to fund it.

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