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A Can of Worms


Editorial We are beginning to see some very interesting conversations within the Letters and Opinion pages f the Beagle. Six months ago I made a commitment to create an environment that enabled people to voice concerns and issues they had regarding Eurobodalla in a wider domain. Many had attempted to do so via letters, phone calls, Public Forum pieces, mostly to no avail. A comment made by a councillor a few years ago struck deep when he responded to my concern that public outcry over many issues with Council were being blatantly dismissed or ignored. "It's all water off a duck's back". He was right. Councillors and senior Council staff did appear to have a teflon coating and irrespective of any issue raised they seemed to always have a way to make it appear as if it was someone else's problem. Exasperation grew to anger and frustration and as a consequence most of the old guard of Council were voted out with six new players coming on deck via campaigns that offered an ear, open transparency and community respect. Before these new councillors can move ahead though there are some vestages that remain which refuse to go away and need to be dealt with. Some key issues: The Batemans Bay Bowling Club - There are major questions regarding the transparency, the processes, the decisions and the finances. The Huntfest decision - again there are major questions regarding the transparency, the processes, the decisions and the ongoing legal costs. The Legal cost burden - there has been a litany of legal proceedings undertaken by Council in the last five years, many that are considered to be needless and extreme. Now the spotlight turns to these at a time of Delegated Authorities and budgets to find out what the costs have been, under whose authority and if the Councillors have been made aware of the extent of corporate and financial risk. The status of the Gerondal case sits at the heart of this. The Special Rate Variation and Fit For Future These two areas do not sit well with many who feel that there was something not quite right going on in both the Fit for Future application and the general ledger at the time based on what was being presented to the community by Council staff as justification for a considerable rate rise. The Highway Corridor This issue isn't just about improving bridge and road access. It is about the role Council MUST play in the long term prosperity of a Shire that has gross underemployment, a distinct lack of investment and no idea where it is going outside of a four year Community Strategy that is filled with motherhood statements endorsed as having full community support by a Citizens Jury that many feel have been tokenly used and dismissed. No doubt Beagle contributors will enjoy adding other issues below of "outstanding matters", election promises, upcoming issues (such as the GM review) Sadly though, for the six new Councillors, they have inherited a can of worms that needs to be dealt with. A good place to start would be for Council as a whole to take ownership of the Can and begin the necessary tasks to meet each face on, be truthful and open of the past and accept responsibility for the present. The Beagle provides an opportunity for issues and concerns with Council to be discussed openly and to be worked through. We have the attention and readership of Council staff, Councillors and State government bodies. The next step is to begin to translate the issues raised here into formal dealings by Councillors and it is hoped that over the coming year many of the above will be making their way into Council Chambers in the form of Questions On Notice, Notice of Motion and Urgent Business. It is considered that, for a Councillor to arrive in the Chamber without a Notice of Motion or a Question on Notice on behalf of a ratepayer during a time of so many major issues is a disappointment and a loss of opportunity and of respect. Many thanks to those who do contribute here. To Peter Cormick for his Council Matters, to our very well informed and researched contributors such as Jim Bright and Ian Hitchcock and to Allan Brown for his wealth of council history along with all the others including for their tenacity, their humour and their participation in often vibrant, open conversation that hopefully assists in providing us with a means of transition to somewhere we might all want to be, being a sound Council. These are indeed interesting times.


#Opinion #LeiParker

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