While it still remains a mystery as to why the Eurobodalla Council purchased the Batemans Bay Bowling Club I would like to draw your readers attention to an anomaly that I have found in Council's minutes of April 26th. 2016 that might be of interest to those who are questioning the process of the Batemans Bay Bowling Club purchase. What we know is that the Council exchanged contracts for the purchase of the land three days later after the Council meeting, on April 29th 2016, and that the property was purchased for $2.73m
What we don’t know is when Council agreed formally to purchase the land. On investigation of the Council meeting agendas prior to April 29th, 2016 it was discovered that at the meeting just three days before, on April 26th, 2016, Council dealt with a Property Matter referred to as CON186/008 as part of its Confidentials.
While the agenda, contrary to the Local Goverment Act, did NOT describe what the item was about, on checking with the Minutes of the April 26th 2016 meeting I learnt that CON16/008 was in relation to a property on George Bass Drive
Much to my surprise, listed below CON16/008 I found a second Confidential Matter listed in the minutes.
NOTE that there was NO matching CON16/009 in the Agenda of the 26th April 2016 NOTE also the reference Number E12.6442. This E12.6442 number is the reference number Eurobodalla Council uses on all matters relating to the Mackay Park precinct redevelopment as you can see in the extract below of the 29th August 2017 agenda.
By Council's own minutes they have confirmed that an undisclosed property matter (being CON16/009 regarding E12.6442) was dealt with in Confidential however by their own Live Streaming and by ommision on the agenda and by not stating the subject of the Confidential matter as they did with CON16/008 in their minutes they raise serious concerns as to their probity." This anomaly MUST be dealt with immediately. The Office of Local Government and the Ombudsmans Office have now been advised and it will be more than interesting to hear their determination on what appears to be a very serious breach of the Local Government Act. Remember that the date is April 26th 2016, three days before Council exchanged contracts on the sale of the Batemans Bay land. By his own admission, in a Council Media Release "Council buys Batemans Bay Bowling Club site" dated April 29th, 2016 then Mayor Brown stated:
It now appears that the "Confidential Meeting" referred by Lindsay Brown was the Council meeting of April 26th, 2016 where the minutes record Property Matter CON16/009 with a reference of E12.6442 was adopted
DID COUNCIL BREACH LOCAL GOVERNMENT (GENERAL) REGULATION 2005 - REG 253 - again? In 2017 the Eurobodalla Shire Council was castigated by the Office of Local Government in 2017 for the way it dealt with Confidential Matters. In particular the failure of Council to best describe an item on the Agenda so that the public might be aware of the matter at hand. The OLG castigation was specifically in reference to incorrect procedures relating to Confidential Agenda Items and specifically pertaining to the way the Agenda and the Minutes of June 13th, 2017 had been incorrectly handled for the Council meeting that sought to review and re-appointment the General Manager. The directive from the OLG was to correct the "error" and clearly document all determinations (rather than some). The Council had been caught out.
What followed was an attempt at an apology by the Mayor once it was revealed publically what had transpired. In the Mayoral Minute of 25/07/2017 it states: Council’s practice, over many years, has been to prepare two separate set of minutes to reflect open session of Council and closed session of Council. The minutes of the closed session of Council have been drafted to include specific details, usually of a personal or commercial nature. The minutes of the open session of Council reflect the generic decision that has been made by the council during closed session. Advice from the Office of Local Government (OLG), received Monday 24 July 2017, indicates that this long standing practice is incorrect and the full resolution adopted by the Council in the closed part of the Council's meeting must be recorded in the open minutes of that meeting. Notwithstanding it has been a practice in many local councils. Further advice received indicates that the purpose of section 10A of the Local Government Act 1993 is to protect the confidentiality or privilege of the information upon which council relies. This intention is reflected in clause 253 of the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 (the Regulation). This requires that where a council passes a resolution during a meeting or a part of a meeting that is closed to the public, the chairperson must make the resolution public as soon as practicable after the meeting or the relevant part of the meeting has ended. LOCAL GOVERNMENT (GENERAL) REGULATION 2005 - REG 253
Resolutions passed at closed meetings to be made public
253 Resolutions passed at closed meetings to be made public
If a council passes a resolution during a meeting, or a part of a meeting, that is closed to the public, the chairperson must make the resolution public as soon as practicable after the meeting or part of the meeting has ended. and.... 254 Matters to be included in minutes of council meeting The general manager must ensure that the following matters are recorded in the council’s minutes: (a) details of each motion moved at a council meeting and of any amendments moved to it, (b) the names of the mover and seconder of the motion or amendment, (c) whether the motion or amendment is passed or lost. Note : Section 375 (1) of the Act requires a council to ensure that full and accurate minutes are kept of the proceedings of a meeting of the council (other provisions of this Regulation and of the Act ?require particular matters to be recorded in a council’s minutes). Where to now? It would be a positive step to see a Councillor ask the question - "Is the above true?" and "Was there a CON16/009 as stated in the minutes. If so why wasn't it on the agenda and why wasn't it mentioned in Live Streaming as was the case with CON16/008" If there was no CON16/009 and the item was placed in the minutes by error then when did the confidential meeting Lindsay Brown refers to take place, who was there and what was the motion that was presented to the Councillors to agree to and what justification was given to taking out a $2m loan to purchase the site for $2.7m which was known to be in excess of the market price ?