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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

What bit of MUST doesn't Council understand

The word MUST is about to bite Eurobodalla Council firmly on the backside. For years the Council has been able to get away with all manner of things when challenged for going outside of rules, policies and guidelines by their defence that the word MUST had been substituted with the word SHOULD. This appears to be a stock standard trick by Council and the Office of Local Government to cover the ar$es of Council staff who are found to have gone outside the rules of intent. An example: In September 2019 the councillors of the day endorsed a Development Control plan that had the word MUST. The councillors had read this, had agreed that the word MUST was the one they were endorsing (and not SHOULD) and that the DCP, as endorsed, would meet their expectation and the expectations of the community who made submissions to the draft document.

Above: 4m off the boundary for no reason whatsoever other than that was where the project manager sited it. The owner said he would have been happy with the house at 12m. Yet Council allowed it contrary to their own DCP rules of MUST. They offer no apology and now intend to allow a large shed to be 4m off the boundary as well. Gods unto themselves with an audacity to disregard being questioned? But Council staff have taken it upon themselves to ignore the word MUST and instead allow a building to be 4m of the boundary. This is a variation that clearly has a detrimental impact on the adjoining property in terms of Privacy and Siting. On the same day that the Council voted to adopt that DCP they also endorsed the draft Community Engagement Plan that says, in part, in regards to when a resident should be notified of an adjacent development:

Did the Planning staff notify the neighbours? NO. They deemed that the 4m variation was fine and did not justify notification. The problem here is that they took it upon themselves to ignore the DCP, endorsed by the councillors and co-written by the community, that clearly says MUST. They then took it upon themselves to ignore the clear directions of Council's own Community Engagement Plan. Before this current term of Council was elected it was widely considered that the staff had become a force of their own and, with very little challenge from the councillors of the day, ran roughshod. That five year term remains as one of the most toxic in the Council's history and the audacious culture of invincibility to any challenge that was revealed (and continues to be revealed) was enough to stir some of our current councillors to stand and to turn the tide. The Development Control Plan issue above that was first raised in a Public Access session is the tip of an iceberg that reveals there are many more developments and ratepayers who have needlessly suffered (or will suffer) by decisions that have been at the discretion of staff that are contrary to the intent of the Development Control Plan, the wording of the plan and the wording of the Community Engagement Plan. It will be interesting to see who is in control in the new Council. The councillors or the staff. Councillor Anthony Mayne has publicly stated he will Question on Notice forward in order to see if we can't clarify some of the issues at present saying "This is an important issue and is significant on its potential impact to neighbours." Not only is the issue significant on its potential impact to neighbours but is more than significant on its potential impact of the credibility of the new Councillors to dare to ask Council staff to explain themselves publicly as to how they thought they were above the rules, guidelines and policies that are the foundation of trust, intent and expectation. If this Question on Notice does not appear in an Agenda we can only assume that the Councillor has been silenced.


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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