Council to pursue Sharples

THE Tweed Shire Council will pursue legal costs arising from a recently dismissed court challenge over rate hikes.

A special sitting of council was held last night to discuss whether to pursue costs after rates campaigner Terry Sharples' challenge of Tweed Shire Council's seven-year plan was thrown out of court.

A motion was passed to negotiate with the solicitors of the Tweed accountant before proceeding with any application to the Land and Environment Court to determine costs.

Late last month Mr Sharples lost his court battle to overturn a 9.5 per cent increase in council rates for 2009, challenging the plan as well as the way council consulted with the public on the issue.

The seven-year plan included a further rate rise of 8.5 per cent for 2010 and 7.5 per cent for the two years following.

The movement to pursue costs was given spirited support by councillors Warren Polglase and Dot Holdom, who claimed the vast majority of residents would expect council to recoup costs of the court case which were estimated to total up to $330,000.

Mayor Joan van Lieshout spoke out against pursuing costs from Mr Sharples, saying she was not prepared to spend any more of council's time on the case, and felt that the shire should not proceed any further.

In finding Mr Sharples' claim unsuccessful, Judge Biscoe suggested it might not be appropriate to order costs against him if the proceedings were judged to have been brought about in the public interest.

The council meeting was called early in order to give the council's legal team enough time to make an application to the court for costs before the deadline of February 10

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