Some very interesting reading has crossed the Beagle's desk Dear Beagle Editor and readers Code of Conduct Complaints …
Bega Valley Shire Council’s Code of Conduct processes are clearly farcical & reflect a clear disdain for the interests of the community, as evidenced in the Minutes of last Wednesday’s ordinary meeting of council.
Not content with their decision to hear the two code of conduct complaints in ‘closed session’, councillors have shown complete contempt for the community by failing to ensure that the community is fully informed about the behaviour of the councillors in breaching the code.
So, what do we know?
both Cr Bain & Cr Fitzpatrick have been found by an Independent Reviewer to have breached the code of conduct;
both Cr Bain & Cr Fitzpatrick absented themselves from the meeting, although they had both previously voted in favour of the matters being addressed in ‘closed session’;
we don’t know the facts of either councillor’s actions;
in the case of Cr Bain, the recommendations of the Independent Reviewer were adopted by the councillors. These included a requirement that the Independent Reviewer’s findings be made public at an upcoming meeting of council & that Cr Bain be censured & required to publicly apologise for her behaviours, with five councillors supporting a resolution to that effect & with two councillors opposed;
in the case of Cr Fitzpatrick, the recommendations of the Independent Reviewer were not adopted by the councillors, with all seven councillors supporting a resolution to that effect.
So, there you have it...
two councillors have breached the council’s code of conduct but residents & ratepayers are denied knowledge of how & when the breaches took place & while details of the behaviour of one councillor will be made public, the details of the behaviour of the other will remain secret;
the recommendations of an Independent Reviewer have been accepted by council in one instance but rejected in the other, with residents & ratepayers denied any explanation as to the apparent inconsistency evident in the decisions.
The BVSRRA believes that by virtue of their actions, all councillors have shown their outright contempt for the community that they are allegedly supposed to be serving.
How can the community have any trust or confidence in a group of elected officials who are committed to addressing acts of improper behaviour in secret?
And what will council do if Cr Bain decides to emulate the past behaviour of Cr Allen & refuse to apologise for her behaviour?
Council, together with the Office of Local Government, have once again demonstrated their complete inability to develop & maintain a system of governance worthy of public confidence & trust. John Richardson Secretary/Treasurer Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association