Councillor hits out at mayor

ONE of the three Tweed Shire councillors who refused to take part in a controversial closed-doors meeting with developers last week has slammed Mayor Joan van Lieshout for "refusing" to listen to advice.

Phil Youngblutt, who along with the other councillors with previous council experience, Dot Holdom and Warren Polglase, refused to be part of the meeting last Thursday, has warned a no-confidence motion in Mayor van Lieshout might even "get up" at this Thursday's full council meeting or soon after.

"The mayor is arrogant, egotistical and would not accept advice," said Cr Youngblutt who also described Cr van Lieshout's attempt to hold a meeting with developers Metricon, prior to a court case today, Monday as "stark raving mad".

He said he initially attended but walked out with Dot Holdom after querying the appropriateness of the meeting with developer representatives who want to build a large supermarket complex in the Seabreeze estate at Pottsville. Cr Polglase had already objected to the meeting.

The developers have appealed against the council's failure to approve it, with the hearing due to begin this morning in the NSW Land and Environment Court.

All councillors are also this week due to consider taking Metricon to court over another matter -- alleged illegal placement of thousands of tonnes of soil on prime cane land next to a Murwillumbah subdivision.

Thursday's meeting was abandoned after only four councillors stayed and president of the Pottsville Beach Business Association Tania Murdock, whose group opposes the new shopping complex, turned up and demanded to be present.

Council officers refused to attend. In 2002 previous councillors were warned by the Bulford Inquiry not to take part in meetings with developers without council officers present.

"The general manager said it would be inappropriate to have staff there," said Cr Youngblutt. "He also said as general manager it was his duty to warn any councillors who attended the meeting they should be very careful.

"The general manager and the council executive are there to advise the mayor but she won't take their advice. If she is to remain as mayor, she has to pull herself into gear and start to take advice."

Cr Holdom said she refused to attend because the shopping centre issue was "before the courts".

She added: "We have obligations under the code of conduct. We must act fairly and impartially. We must always be mindful of community perception and the most important thing is we must be transparent as we go through due process."

Cr van Lieshout did not return calls to the Tweed Daily News yesterday.

Cr Katie Milne, who agreed to take part, had a different view of the general manager's advice.

"It was suggested to us by Mike Rayner that it was okay as long as we didn't speak," she said.



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