Tom Senti of the Tweed Economic Development Corporation.
Tom Senti of the Tweed Economic Development Corporation.

Council bodies face cuts

TWEED Mayor Joan van Lieshout has signalled she wants to wield the axe on council-funded business organisations - Tweed Tourism and the Tweed Economic Development Corporation.

Cr van Lieshout says the two organisations are “not fully viable” and the Council could save half-a-million dollars a year by combining them and bringing in “some new blood”.

The mayor's comments, made during last week's Council meeting, sparked protests from two other councillors.

She was then defeated on a move to spend $15,000 on a “independent review” of the two organisations.

But an independent “facilitator” will still be brought in to attend a forum between councillors, senior council officers and representatives from Tweed tourism and TEDC.

With current funding agreements for the two organisations due to expire in July next year, Council's general manager Mike Rayner had recommended $15,000 be spent on the independent review.

Cr van Lieshout backed the recommendation, adding “we need new blood”, sparking a protest from Cr Kevin Skinner.

“Tweed Tourism has had some rough-and-tumble times, but I believe now it is on a good footing,” he said.

“TEDC has a lot of highly qualified people voluntarily giving up a lot of man hours.

“You don't need to waste $15,000 from the Council coffers to tell us which way to go forward. We should sit down with them ourselves.”

Cr Warren Polglase said he was “disappointed” at Cr van Lieshout's remarks, adding: “These people are dedicated to their jobs” .

The Council voted four to three in favour of an amendment by Cr Polglase for a forum with an independent facilitator. Cr van Lieshout, Katie Milne and Barry Longland voted against the amendment.

Yesterday TEDC chief executive Tom Senti said his organisation was “both bewildered and disappointed by the comments supposedly made by the mayor, who is also a council-appointed director of TEDC and the Tweed Tourism Board”.

“Every year we have new blood,” he added, saying directors came from “broad and varied business and commercial backgrounds”.

Tweed Tourism chair Cameron Arnold said the two groups had “distinctive roles”, although room for sharing facilities might exist.

“Their roles can cross over, but generally they have two distinctive purposes,” he said. “But there may be better models worth investigating. We are open to that.”

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