Welcome to this week’s editorial, This week saw the first year anniversary of Council with the re-election of Councillor Anthony Mayne as Deputy Mayor. In his acceptance speech Clr Mayne thanked his fellow councillors for re-electing him, saying he’d been genuinely surprised at the level and nature of engagement amongst the group, which in turn leads to constructive debate. He emphasised the need for council to continue to ensure ongoing engagement and transparency. The difficulty with his comment though lies in his use of the word “continue”. While Council might imagine it is engaging and transparent unfortunately what you have is a duck on a mill pond, all serene on the surface ticking boxes, while madly paddling beneath the surface against a rapidly increasing current of community discontent. The community are now very much of the opinion that there was NO true engagement in regards to the Batemans Bay pool design that sees the removal of a 50m pool without TRUE consultation with the REAL users. The community has become aware that the means to garner “community support letters” was less than truthful and that any consultation carried out was very selective to ensure it met with their agenda. TRUE Community Engagement—FAIL The community discovered that during this process a draft Aquatic Strategy was penned by the consultants following a briefing by Council staff and that only after the submission of a grant application of $36 million did Councillors view the unendorsed Eurobodalla Aquatic Strategy that was a guiding document to the application. BIG FAIL. The community noted that the new pool is to be built on the crown reserve at Mackay Park. The community has repeatedly and doggedly requested of Council and Councillors evidence of public consultation and the deliberations and reasoning behind the purchase of the Bowling Club site. There has been NO engagement nor any satisfactory response given. FAIL. Nor has there been satisfactory response to the financial questions asked regarding loans, terms and repayments on this purchase and it’s compliance with Council procurement policies. ANOTHER FAIL. The Council were recently officially castigated for their secrecy and even had to retrospectively update minutes that had been “In Confidential”. Rather than being open about it and even apologetic the Council have been less than transparent and also less than transparent of the litany of OLG reviews of Council staff and Councillors that have seen several breaches of the Local Government Act identified over the last twelve months; from serious errors taken under advice to the swearing at a member of the public during a Council meeting. Councillors are quite aware of these breaches and the findings, and whilst they continue to “keep it all under wraps” out of the public eye they are complicit in the “veil of secrecy” that lingers and the stench that builds. They all professed transparency, accountability, inclusion and engagement during electioneering but talk is very cheap and sadly lack of any action on their part now indicates that, after a year, should they continue to be clones and rubber stamps of the pen-pushers, they may as well just resign. The year ahead looks very interesting with a few ICAC options on the boil. The Beagle watches with interest. Until next, lei
Note that the use of the wording "may wish to review". That is pointed advice said nicely.