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Editorial June 23rd, 2017


Welcome to this week’s editorial, Those who follow the Beagle pages might have noticed that there is an ongoing battle between Council and a representative group of dog owners in Batemans Bay who are attempting to establish a fenced off-leash area for dogs at Corrigans Beach. The primary problem the group has is that Council just isn’t listening to what is being requested. The group has been very clear in exactly what it wants however their plain English presentations to Council and to Councillors seems to be translated into Swahili or similar because Council simply can’t focus on the key words that are —Corrigans Beach—fenced—off leash. The last Council meeting turned into a fiasco that Council should be quite embarrassed by. An official agenda item was set to discuss the viability or THREE sites that included Corrigans Beach however with some pre meeting backdoor wrangling only one option was put up for discussion and voting being the Council preferred site at Surfside which NO-ONE wants (except Council staff). The crux of this weeks editorial is not so much about dog parks but about the Council’s inability to actually listen to the community. Many in the community might not be aware that there are just a handful of dedicated locals who pour over the Council agenda papers each fortnight reading between the lines and delving into the hyperlinks to discover what Council staff propose to put forward to Councillors to rubber stamp on the communities “behalf”. Councillors are briefed before each meeting however that briefing is … very brief—and they are briefed by staff who have written reports that propose recommendations that the staff believe in; and the Councillors are guided/swayed during the briefings to accept the recommendations and viewpoints of staff as being the “only game in town”. By the time the Council meeting comes around Councillors have made up their minds. This becomes quite obvious when you then have three passionate community members presenting to Council on the day of the Dog Park decision offering their case for a fenced—off-leashed area at Corrigans Beach only to find the option of Corrigans Beach has been removed from the agenda item at the whim of Council after hearing the heartfelt pleas of three committed and dedicated community members. This action is despicable in the least and show true distain for a group who have delivered a petition on two occasions indicating widespread community support for their request. Of importance is the message that is sent out to others in the community that basically says “Don’t bother coming to us in Public Forum and presenting your case because we have already made up our minds and will agree every time with the advice and recommendations of the Council staff so just p*ss-off because we won’t listen to you and we have better things to do with our time”. “oh, and by the way, count yourselves lucky that you even have the opportunity to come before Council and present because other Council’s don’t offer that and take note that if you irritate us by your continued whining then we will close Public Forums because we can… “ At every Council meeting there is an opportunity for Councillors to put forward Questions on Notice and to raise Notices of Motion. These are opportunities where the Councillors can table questions or notices that have been given to them by residents and ratepayers so that issues raised by them can be openly discussed. There is also the opportunity to raise Urgent Business. If you review the video tapes of the council meetings this term you will see that there has been little in the way of Questions or Notices and most often these opportunities simply go by. To a casual observer it either reflects on a complacency by Councillors that allows Council staff to set the agendas and determine what is, or is not important, or by no issue being raised indicates that the residents and ratepayers of the Shire are all delighted in the administration and have no complaints—or maybe they do not have the ear of Councillors and are just not being represented. Until next week Lei

#Opinion #LeiParker #Editorial #Dale

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