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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Editorial May 5th 2023

Welcome to this week’s editorial, There is little doubt that our elected councillors are about to find themselves between a rock and another rock. While the greater problem for them to ponder over is the revelation that there is far less money in the bucket than we thought there was, that previous commitments will need to be reviewed, and most likely current practices rationalised the major obstacle for the councillors will be to seen to best represent the community who voted them in. But where are these councillors? And what exactly are they doing to show any evidence that they are listening and representing the community? Let’s start with the Office of Local Government description: “As a councillor you are expected to represent the views of the community while making decisions in their interests, demonstrate conduct that the community expects and deserves, and plan and oversee the running of a significant and complex business. Although challenging at times, your service will have a profound impact on your local community. One of the bugbears that raises its head all too often is the bit that says “expected to represent the views of the community while making decisions in their interests” Back in the dark ages of a previous Council there was a manipulation that set out to restrict the “views of the community” from being heard. Fortunately the draconian impediments put in place were lifted by this new term of Council and a burst of fresh air has filled the space that was once a toxic cloud. But alas, with the new term of councillors we are seeing some of the same old ways return that hint of laziness, indifference, obstinance and sadly mediocrity. Council meetings are conducted within minutes rather than hours. Even the scheduled 20 meetings per year are now to be halved “ To enable more effective and efficient decision-making for Councillors, and to provide certainty for community members’ participating in meetings, it is proposed that Council move to monthly Ordinary Council meetings and Public Access and Forum sessions”. What this means is that the community have even less opportunity to provide their views directly to Councillors during Public Forum. The previous term did their utmost in controlling any face to face public presentation by saying Councillors had emails and phones and that was the best avenue for the community to raise issues. That may have been so however the majority of the councillors in that previous term failed to return either phone calls or emails. The only last-option for the community was to present directly to the councillors during Public Forum or Public Access having first provided their presentation 24 hours in advance. Again, this was a procedure defined to intimidate and to control under the guise that the presentation would be provided to councillors to read and assist in their asking questions. But they rarely asked questions, some even left the room refusing to hear a speaker and the level of disengagement was so apparent that it cause the community to declare that term of Council the most loathsome ever. But that was then… This term of councillors is beginning to see a repeat of the last by way of apparent laziness, indifference or ineptitude or all of the above. There is a creep of regret that the current term are not delivering the passion that was espoused on their soapboxes during the election period. Very few engage with speakers at Public Forum and Public Access, offering up intelligent follow-up questions allowing the speaker to expand on their time limited seven minutes to present. Most often the presentations are a reiteration of a written submission to an issue where councillors might say they have read the submission and there is little reason to “regurgitate” it by laboriously reading it out one sentence at a time. But there is a MAJOR difference between the written and spoken word. This week saw a Public Hearing held in Council chambers where an independent chair heard, one after another after another, the pleas of local community members defending the potential loss of their valuable local reserves because they were considered by Council as “surplus to need”. Had any of the councillors bothered to attend they would have heard the tears, the frustration, the exasperation, the anger, the dismay and the bewilderment expressed by members of the community who read heart felt presentations hoping that the independent chair might convey the sentiment of their presentations in his final report. Yes, the councillors will have access to those submissions but there is a big difference between reading and listening. Alas, as has been discovered with some of our councillors, they rarely read submissions and chose instead to glance over them and accept the summary given to them by council staff. As has been the case in the past the recommendation by staff will be to reclassify the land and sell the public reserves to fill the council purse. But need they do so? The Strategic approach is to look at a map and see potential for sale, adding another house that brings revenue and reduces Council’s obligation to maintain land it neither wants nor is prepared to accept the risk exposure of. The Public Hearing heard speakers from Malua Bay, Broulee, Long Beach and South Durras describe with a passion, a longing, a respect and a love of their local reserve and the many reasons why they should remain as they were; gifted as dedicated Public Reserves for the community, and for generations to come. Each reserve being defended was described with words that captured the spirit of place. But there were no councillors there to hear the words. There was no recording. Only those who attended could see first hand that the reserves that Council so blatantly called “surplus to need” played a significant role in providing the very reasons why they were first declared Public Reserve. It is not known when the report of the Public Hearing will be presented, nor what it will say. But presented to Councillors it will be, to be read by some and scanned over by most. They won’t read the submissions of the day as they should, hearing the passion of delivery, the disappointment of the processes, the failed engagement, the bewilderment of why? Or Who? Or How? Nor will most of the councillors bother to visit the reserves prior to the final deliberations, to stand and see these community parcels of land for themselves and to hear the voices of those who stand to defend their Public Reserve, not for reasons of selfishness but selflessness for the wider community and for generations to come. “As a councillor you are expected to represent the views of the community while making decisions in their interests….. “ Most likely the final report to Councillors will have the recommendation that the parcels be sold. Councillors will most likely argue that while some in the community have represented their views their role is to plan and oversee the running of a significant and complex business. That being the case it will be argued that in the best interests of the community the reserves be sold to assist the quadruple bottom line. Should Council agree with staff recommendations to reclassify and then sell these Public Reserves there will be no apologies to those who properties will be devalued, there will be no apology for the community loss, nor will there be any apology for the underhanded manner in the way the process has been carried out and delivered. Should this be the case then they will be endorsing the pitiful Council justification that these dedicated Public Reserves, so passionately represented by their local community, are “surplus to need that have no evidence of use”. Had the councillors bothered to attend the Public Meeting they would have learnt otherwise. But they will consider, in good faith, based on the information provided to them by staff, that the reserves are surplus and best sold. The report they receive will not explain that there is a need to rationalise, to unburden, to tighten belts and find revenue where able, and most importantly to address the inevitable debt that faces us. No, instead the report will offer the baseless deception that the reserves are have no evidence of use. So much for the openness and transparency, the community engagement and the community representation most of our current Councillors stood for. And to those Councillors who vote to sell these much loved public reserves. You will deserve the full contempt from the community you claim to represent. Until next Lei

The South Durras community

The ESC letter that appears now to have no value at all to Council


Unknown member
May 06, 2023

Councillors, like all elected people, have to listen and balance a great deal of things. You can’t keep everyone happy all the time. It’s hard. Though it is easy to whine and whinge. Maybe stand for Council and see how pleasant it is? I don’t know how they do it and I try and pay them the respect they deserve - even if I disagree. IMHO, Council will need to sell assets to deal with the financial recklessness of past Councils. That will be difficult.

IMHO, listening to the very small number of regulars at Public Forum is often a sad experience. Often no sense of any balance is offered and then people act aggressively and are personally rude to…

Unknown member
May 06, 2023
Replying to

TT "your welcome"!!!


NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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