Anger over council backflip



TWEED Shire Council's backflip on a decision to allow its legal adviser Tony Smith to be questioned at the upcoming public inquiry into Council further dents public confidence in the decisionmaking process.

That's the claim of watchdog group Tweed Monitor which says majority pro-development councillors decision not only defied a specific request from inquiry chairman Professor Maurice Daly but increased the perception that Council has something to hide.

Yesterday the claims prompted a strong response from Tweed Mayor Warren Polglase who called on Monitor members to front the inquiry and substantiate accusations they have made against the Council.

Cr Polglase, who said he was due to be the first witness before the inquiry after it resumes on Wednesday week said Monitor members should also be called to give evidence under oath.

Monitor spokesman Jerry Cornford said the attempt by the majority faction during last week's debate to link the issue with the legal privilege granted priests and spouses was ludicrous.

"We're not talking capital crimes here ? this issue is about advice on matters pertaining to how councillors manage the affairs of the shire on behalf of the residents who have footed the bill for that advice in the first place," Mr Cornford said.

"This is the same Council which failed to provide the community with definitive legal advice in regard to the covenants over disputed land in Pandanus Parade, Cabarita, yet they seek to prevent the community and the Inquiry from sharing what advice they have had on how they should be running the affairs of the ratepayers," he said.

Cr Polglase said Mr Cornford did not understand the relationship between a solicitor and a client which he likened to a doctor and a patient but said Commissioner Daly in any case had been able to view all written advice.

"The Monitor should be made to front the Commissioner and substantiate accusations they have made...?Put them in the witness box and put them under oath," he said.



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