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Is the Mayoral reign set to tumble

"Decisions from dynasties may be beneficial for Britain’s tourism industry and foreign exchange. The actions we see from our local old families would appear to have the opposite effect in Eurobodalla. We need technocrats and rational thinkers, not kings and queens." Owen Cartledge As rumours begin to circulate around the upcoming Mayoral and Councillor elections in September 2021 it is understood that Mayor Innes intends to throw her hat in the ring to run for a second term as Mayor. If she does there is little doubt that she will do so with accompanied promises and testaments to what she considers she has already delivered. To best appreciate the promises she and her Community Action Alliance (CAA) team made in 2016 and measure them against her claims of accomplishment the CAA Mainifesto is worthy of a read.

The following are comments around the promised Manifesto that many are now looking at with new eyes in the lead up to the September 4th 2021 elections. Rather than simply 'appreciating' that "strong fiscal policy, focusing on economic and sustainable development, is key to guiding the shire into prosperity the measure of accomplishment is in the delivery" the actual delivery by Council under the Innes reign has been found wanting. Rather than be reliant on Government initiatives and stimulus handouts we need a Mayor who doesn't just say "We want to make the Eurobodalla Shire a vibrant place where people of any age can find good local jobs with better recreational, entertainment, health, education and community care services" but actually delivers Local Government solutions. Any evidence of Mayoral Vision over the past four and a half years has been found wanting with most, if not all, the visions led by staff. Waiving of paid-parking in Batemans Bay without presenting a cost benefit statement is not enough to hang a hat on. Nor is the Rural LEP that was the work of staff. The Mayoral component of this Rural LEP could only be measured in the degree of disrupt and community outcry of the process and outcome. In the past five years we have seen the maintenance of our roadsides, parks and reserves fall into noticeable disrepair. Fortunately there have been sporting grants for new infrastructure otherwise there would have been nothing built by this council who seem to have a fear of building and new infrastructure, crying poor because they don't have a maintenance budget. Yet the same Council has committed to the $2million per year operational cost of the Mackay Park Centre without identifying where the funds are coming from. We need a Mayor who does more than close down visitor centres and does next to nothing to attract local and international tourism in low/shoulder seasons other than to support the staff in the copy-cat of initiatives of neighboring shires by way of the ideas of food trails, walking trails and bicycle tracks. Again the only vision forthcoming in this term was for an ocean pool as a response to the loss of the 50m pool in Batemans Bay, that has amounted to nothing. In 2021 we need a Mayor who genuinely wants to retain the natural environmental beauty and relaxed atmosphere of this unique part of NSW and doesn't bend to farmers and tourist operators that have a vested interests in maintaining and protecting their own assets. We need a Mayor who isn't fixated on individual property rights at the cost of ignoring sound advice from such agencies as NSW Planning, the RFS and the EPA. We need a Mayor who doesn't just say "We recognise sea level rise is a real issue, but Council has approached it the wrong way" but will stand shoulder to shoulder with the community and develop practical and affordable mitigation plans and do what is possible to assist affected residents deal with any problems that arise rather than imposing draconian restrictions on renovations and repairs. We need a Mayor who actually believes that Council must live within its residents’ means. The Mayor's Manifesto might say "Increased rates affect everyone, whether owner or renter", however, the massive $20 million blowout because of the Mackay Park Centre and the loss of Fees and Charges revenue due to Covid, bushfires, along with the five-quarter recession leading up to these events has unduly placed the shire in a situation that will take decades to recover from. While Mayor Innes said in 2016 "We will endeavour to freeze rates for the next four years" it is inevitable that either rates will increase in the next Council term or services will be cut. Mayor Innes promised "We will seek a performance audit of Council finances to ensure money is spent properly and wisely. We will investigate how to get the best return for ratepayers from Council assets. We will establish a Waste Watch Committee to get maximum value and minimise waste." None of these have happened in the last four and a half years. They were election promises alone and serve as a reminder to voters that the CAA party under Mayor Innes made promises that simply were not kept. The Mayor's CAA manifesto stated "We won’t just listen to our residents’ reasonable concerns. We will take notice and we will take action". In truth, under the reign of Mayor Innes we have witnessed Council all but closed down communication, intentionally devaluing or removing the mechanisms of openness, transparency and accountability. In 2016 Mayor Liz Innes, said in her CAA manifesto of 2016 "The Council can be the solution. It should not be the problem." It is more than evident that Mayor Innes and her voting bloc of six in Council are in fact the problem based on the mounting disquiet, the vocal outcry across social media, and the general criticisms being heard in the streets and in the mainstream media. It is disappointing to look back over the past four and a half years and note the achievements of the Mayor and her voting bloc. The Council staff have performed admirably under their own watch and by their own professionality within their budgets and guided by their KPI's. The Councillors on the other hand have achieved very little at all at a local level. The performance failures of the Mayor and her councillors however has not stopped her from photobombing nearly every opportunity presented when State and Federal announcements are made by visiting politicians around grants, new infrastructure and initiatives, hoping, it appears, that some of that kudos might transfer in the lead up to the next Mayoral Election. Of interest is that her fellow Councillors are rarely, if ever invited to these occasions and don't hear about them until after the event. This isn't surprising though, as the photo shoots often reveal that attendances to these major announcements are carefully crafted to deliver the desired political narrative.

Above: Feel free to disregard the above opinion piece because, according to the Mayor, it (The Beagle) "is very one sided, very negative" and is "a blog that has very low standards and an axe to grind but I will not engage with such low and destructive so called media outlets. (Comments above made in social media by Liz Innes on Thur 11th March on South Coast Community Support Group)

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