A short meeting's a good meeting at Tweed Shire Council
IT was almost a blessedly short evening for Tweed Shire Councillors at Thursday night's meeting due to one of their most vocal number calling in sick.
But alas the time normally exhausted by Greens Councillor Katie Milne was soaked up instead by a confidential briefing on an independent report into council's dysfunctional relationship with Leda, the area's biggest developer.
Leda has been complaining for years that its Kings Forest and Cobaki developments have not been given a fair go by council.
But its critics dismiss it as bully-boy tactics because Leda hasn't gotten everything their own way.
Hence council's move to bring in an independent party to try and get to the bottom of it.
We'd give you an exhaustive over-view of independent consultants SINC Solution's 151 findings, but they haven't been released to the public - except for the clearing council of any corrupt conduct.
However, the 19 recommendations that have been released give a clue that at least some of the findings did not reflect well on council.
Number 19 is especially illuminating. It recommends that no action be taken against any council staff member or councillor "mentioned in this review report for any alleged Code of Conduct breaches that may have been alleged up to the date of this report".
The justification given is that too much time has passed, the format in which the allegations were made and the public knowledge of the allegations "which denied procedural fairness to parties".
"Too simple", railed pro-business Councillor Carolyn Byrne who appeared to want some butts kicked.
The other 18 can be summed up in two points:
- council needs to improve its communication
- if there are any "significant" concerns about council's conduct they should be investigated by an independent body not internally.
But recommendation nine is alarming for anyone forced to sit through these dour albeit important displays of democracy in action.
To cut down on the size of the "voluminous" business papers that council (and local hacks) are subjected to on a regular basis, it's suggested council should consider more regular meetings -clearly the report author Kathy Roach has a nasty streak.
Before the behind-the-scenes Leda session, Ms Roach gave a rundown in open council on the exhaustive process she had undertaken in order to investigate the company's concerns.
That took the wind somewhat out of resident Terry Sharples' address to council.
Before the late decision to have an open Leda session, Terry had been preparing to rail against the secrecy surrounding the SINC report.
Other notable business from the night's proceedings:
- The proposed Chinderah Jetty has been cut back in size from 40m to 30m
- The cost of fluoridation of water in the shire was revealed as $37,000 a year
- The major road through Round Mountain looks set to be sealed but don't expect the same for your crap road. It costs a motza.
And good news for anyone willing to forego Law & Order: SVU if only council was staged somewhere closer than Murwillumbah.
Mayor Barry Longland and his backing band are taking their show on the road with council meetings to be trialled at Tweed Civic Centre from February.
Mark it in your diary.