Business leaders turn on Facebook activist

A meeting of Business in Glen (BiG), the town’s forum for business people, descended into acrimony on Wednesday night as people turned on activist, David Allenberg who was there.

He is one of the main users of a Facebook page devoted to attacks on Glen Innes Severn Council. At the meeting, the site was accused of being “cancerous”, “negative”, “disgusting” and “destructive”.

One lawyer in Glen Innes said he was contemplating trying to get Mr Allenberg barred from Business in Glen. Mr Allenberg had paid $20 for membership but the note was returned to him by the BiG president.

Mr Allenberg defended himself during the meeting, and afterwards said: “It doesn’t bother me at all. We all love living here but we can’t stand the demise and degradation and the lack of action”. He is not the owner and controller of the site but has become its public face.

The fiercest criticism of the Facebook page, “Save Glen Innes from GISC”, came from lawyer, Bill Liston, the Principal of Liston Legal in Glen Innes. 

Mr Liston stood and addressed Mr Allenberg, saying: “It’s a cancerous thing that’s going on, David. It’s destructive criticism. It’s not constructive criticism. We all know you’re there and it worries me hugely that the Mayor and his wife are extremely disturbed and upset with what has been happening on that Facebook page, and we know that you are an active participant.”

He added that he thought the council had been “fantastic” and the mayor was a “dignified and very decent man who’s trying very hard for this place and we all know that”. 

Some of the postings on the Facebook page have been deeply personal. Mr Allenberg said after the meeting that the (anonymous) owner of the Facebook page did take some comments down.

The President of the Business in Glen group, Jim Ritchie, said in the meeting: “Can I tell you, and I probably shouldn’t be so direct, but I think it’s a frigging disgusting site.

(Murmurs of “I agree” from other members.)

“I think it’s totally unnecessary about trying to take this town forward”, Mr Ritchie continued, “and, David, I’m absolutely sick and tired of seeing people who won't put their own name to the page.”

He then handed Mr Allenberg back his $20 bill for membership, saying “so, as far as I’m concerned, just take that back and we’ll send you a bill at a later stage” (to which there was applause).

Mr Liston, the lawyer, said in the meeting that he thought Mr Allenberg was “misplaced” as a member of Business in Glen: “I find it very uncomfortable being part of an organisation which has as one of its members somebody who is the ultimate destructive critic.

“And perhaps in another meeting I might move for his expulsion.  That’s how strongly I feel about it.  I think a lot of people here do, too.”

Mr Allenberg said later that he was strong and wouldn’t be put off.  He said Glen Innes “was a community in deep crisis. Everybody pretends everything is OK.”

The mystery remains about who the anonymous person behind the Facebook page is.

In the meeting, Mr Allenberg said that the owner didn’t want his name known. The page was financed by business people, he added. “That’s where all the money is coming from –  the advertising – because he’s a disability support pensioner.”