The Beagle, What an embarrassment. To have the Bay Post carry not just one but three stories on a councillor being asked to wait twenty minutes until a meeting finished before coming in for Christmas drinks. Hold the presses !!! Fact: Councillor arrives at Christmas party and is asked to wait while a quick meeting is held. Fact: The councillor is advised on arrival that Council staff and Councillors had been requested in writing to not attend the meeting. In the Bay Post it states of the councillor at the centre of this ludicrous debacle “(Three people) came up to me and said: ‘Didn’t you get the email? You’ve been asked not to come.’... “I said I was a long-term member of the chamber, and had not received an email, and they said it wasn’t their fault if the council had poor communications.” Yet in the same Bay Post article it states that on Wednesday before the meeting the Mayor approached and asked if the councillor would be attending the Chamber Christmas meeting. The councillor said "yes" admitting that the Mayor had advised that there had been an email “disinviting” the council." The councillor is quoted then of saying “I assumed that wasn’t relevant to me as a member of the chamber”. Fact: The councillor was therefore aware that councillors were not invited to the meeting. Fact: She was a councillor. The intent of the meeting was to discuss communication issues with Council and Councillors. The Mayor was fully aware of this as s stated in the Bay Post “the chamber executive ..requested for council staff and councillors not to attend our December meeting, so that chamber members could be appraised of the situation in private." In the Bay Post the councillor is quoted as saying “I have been involved in many functions over the years, and sometimes people are asked to come a bit later, to allow a meeting – it’s not pleasant, but it’s a protocol,” If that is the case why did she not accept the fact and simply wait until the meeting was over rather than stand out the front protesting to anyone who might listen ???? In the Bay Post it states the councillor saying “(A member) came over and said the meeting was over, and I could come in. I went in and was greeted warmly by many, and it was a delightful evening.” So there you have it - not invited to the meeting... meeting over... come on in. Fact: The councillor protested not being allowed in. It was stated by eyewitnesses that there was shouting. “I didn’t shout, I didn’t wave my stick around, but as I was calling out in response to people, I was louder than a speaking voice,” The Mayor has now weighed in saying the Chamber should apologise citing the councillor's age and medical condition which are irrelevant to the fact that she is a councillor, and was clearly not invited to attend a meeting of twenty minutes or so where members could speak freely and openly about the deteriorating relationship between Council and the chamber. At the time it was a pleasant evening, beside the Clyde River, the councillor was with her partner, it was sunset and a patient and respectful wait, having been politely advised of the situation, would have been a perfect time to chill for twenty minutes in respect of the request. All the councillor had to do was accept that while she was a member of the Chamber, she was also a Councillor and would be seen as such, and measured as such with caution, during discussions. To add insult to it all is the quote in the Bay Post from the Mayor saying “To be prevented from entering the function, as I understand it, by three men from the chamber executive, shows a complete lack of compassion and is quite reprehensible behaviour." By three men? What if it had been three women, three Mexicans, three trans-genders, three redheads or three carpenters. Three men ???? That statement would imply to any reader possible gender intimidation. So now the Mayor plays the old, infirmed and female card. Really?? In the Bay Post it states the Mayor saying “Council received an email on Wednesday, December 5, at 9.47am, the day of the function, from the chamber executive advising that the invitation to council staff and councillors was withdrawn. The reason provided was that the executive wanted to discuss a ‘communication policy’ at the Christmas function without council staff or councillors present.” Fact: The Councillor was "barred" from the meeting. She was not barred from the Christmas cheer as soon as the meeting finished. Let's be very clear. In the Bay Post it states the councillor saying “(A member) came over and said the meeting was over, and I could come in. I went in and was greeted warmly by many, and it was a delightful evening.” Is there a need for an apology? Most likely. From the councillor for her actions when it was very clear that, as a councillor, she could not attend the brief meeting. Rather than making a song and dance about it she should have respected the Executive wishes of the Association, that she was a member of, and waited for the item to conclude to then join the party as she did. Once again it must be said that this is a trumped up bit of tit for tat media that is an embarrassment in itself and needs to be called out for what it is. A storm in a teacup with a petulant Council once again looking pretty darn silly. The Bay Chamber doesn't need to have Council as its best buddy. It represents business. It represents multimillion dollar commitments of investments, its member employ and they put their own livelihood on the table. Council makes policy on the fly, without any fear of financial loss nor any fear of personal consequence as they have "no skin in the game" to lose. After all Councillors and Council staff use ratepayers money like it is Monopoly money and not their own. A bad decision, a financial loss, a business goes to the wall, Who cares? Not Council. To them there is no consequence. I would recommend all the councillors and the Mayor read the statement by the chamber executive in the Bay Post who advised that its charter calls on it to “challenge” local government in the interests of the community.
“The Batemans Bay Business and Tourism Chamber is highly active in its endeavours to increase business activity in Batemans Bay to drive economic growth, improve shopfront vacancies and employment for our community. The chamber’s charter calls on its branches to challenge local government to prosper its community for better economic outcomes. Sometimes this necessitates a difference of opinion, which in normal circumstances leads to healthy debate and eventual consensus, generally, for a better outcome." This is why I am a member of the Chamber... because it has the gumption to stand up to Council and to represent the interests of its members and not be at the beck and call of the Council who have neither business acumen nor any "skin in the game".
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