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Flexing, Listening and Community wins at Council meeting

Home viewers to live streaming of Council's meeting today were met with just two Councillors sitting in their seats at the opening of the meeting at 10am. Thomson and Nathan were offered gold stars for punctuality as the rest of the Councillors eventually dawdled in - once seated we had a full house. First business of the day was the Public Forum with Trish Hellier raising a point in regards to the confirmation of the minutes of the last meeting that, in her opinion, required clarity in regards to the legal definition of the lots that comprise Albert Ryan Park and the lot adjacent where the "Bouancy" public art statue now stands. The Councillors were attentive and as a result an Urgent Matter was raised towards the end of the meeting that offered the clarity that MS Hellier was seeking. Roger Middlebrook from Long Beach then addressed the Council requesting that they consider the submission made by the Long Beach Community Association in regards to Council's management of the foreshore dunal system. One of the many words of advice to Councillors by Mr Middleton was that they stop taking bland and easy decisions. Councillor Anthony Mayne asked what science Mr Middlebrook had behind their submission to be answered that anecdotally the foreshore had always been grassed and that by experience elsewhere the coastal wattles were found to compromise rather than contribute to dunal stability and formation. Another win for the community came later when the Councillors moved to defer the report and recommendation before them so that they could consider the Long Beach Community Association’s submission. Joe Potts of Narooma made a short-lived appearance at Public Forum. He had been give permission to speak on the condition that he apologized for an alleged action that happened in Council chamber a year ago. Joe made it very clear that to apologise was to make an admission to an action that he believed did not warrant an apology to the chamber today. As he was not going to apologized he was asked by the Mayor to leave the chamber – which he did. The next speaker as part of the Public Forum was Peter Bernard of Dalmeny who spoke on the issue of the Auditors report that was being presented. One of his primary concerns was that under the new rules that sees the Auditor General now overseeing Local Government auditing it was no longer possible for a member of the community to ask a question directly of the auditor. This point was confirmed by the auditor during her report to Council a few hours later as she presented her tick of approval to Council’s books. Peter Bernard did manage to castigate the Mayor and General Manager for their continued chatter during his presentation that he said was “distracting to the speaker”. It has been long noticed that the “bench” does indulge in chatter, note passing, comments that sees laughter or smile responses between the General Manager and staff. The Mayor advised Mr Bernard that she and the GM were talking about the issues he was raising. A viewer might expect that such a discussion might happen after the presentation as Mr Bernard only had 5 minutes to deliver and expected the Mayor’s undivided attention. One thing that has become apparent is that Councillors are now more aware of being viewed by a wider and attentive audience able to frame-by-frame review Council meetings and as such review if Councillors are showing a lack of respect to speakers by being occupied with their devices. This is a major accomplishment to a poor habit that was beginning to creep in. Mr Bernard, often a protagonist of Council finished his presentation offering his views on the Mayor asking Joe Potts to leave the chamber. The meeting proper then began. The Long Beach issue was dealt with by deferral. The Tuross and Coila Estuary Management Plan went through with a notation thanking the Bakers for their contribution. The Denhams Beach subdivision that will see a three lot subdivision made of a once classified Public Reserve went through but not before Councillor Mayne asked the Director of Planning, Lindsay Usher to explain how a parcel of public reserve is found to no longer be required for public space and that it was fine to identify what is considered superfluous community land for sale and then see the reserve clear felled for property development with the “profits” being directed into maintaining and developing other reserves. This issue is close to Councillor Mayne as he has just witnessed over 7000m2 of land that was specifically earmarked for natural reserve corridor bulldozed in the new Broulee subdivision and has also witness the recent attempt by Council to sell off a block of land in Broulee that has long been understood by both the community and by Council as being public reserve and pedestrian access. Recent moves by Council to sell Albert Ryan Park in Batemans Bay and Walker Park in Narooma has bought about a heightened degree of distrust by the community of any action Council puts its hand to. The disgust that is held by the Tuross Head community of the decision of Council to go ahead with the sale of a dedicated community reserve only adds further to the total distrust the community has of Eurobodalla Council based on their total cockup of trying to reclassify a reserve of Cultural Significance and their pathetic and very deceptive attempt in 2000 to sell of the Kyla Grazing lots to a fictitious developer. The vote today saw Councillor Mayne being the only councillor showing disapproval of the process of Stealing from Peter to Pay Paul where Council steadily sells of land to keep its purse full. To finish off the meeting Karen Taylor from the Auditor General’s Office gave her report which was pretty dry with the exception of when she admitted that “If I was a ratepayer and community member and not an accountant the annual report would be pretty difficult to read but it is the legislation” Agreed.

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