Councillors face the music over illegal quarry access
TWO Tweed councillors face possible disciplinary action after they allegedly scaled a fence to gain access to a council quarry.
Councillor Gary Bagnall said he and Cr Katie Milne have been charged by Tweed council's general manager David Keenan with jumping a fence to gain access to the quarry and faced an addition charge of not wearing protective clothing while at the site.
The charges were a consequence of CCTV footage of Crs Bagnall and Milne's visit to the quarry and their alleged unauthorised access to the site.
Did the councillors have a right to enter the quarry?
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Councillors Bagnall and Milne were responding to a complaint from a neighbour of the quarry, located near Crystal Creek, who raised concerns the quarry had polluted a creek which runs on his property as well as the quarry.
"I was shocked we weren't told about this.
"No one knows that council is a polluter.
"We own this quarry and the creek that runs through it," Cr Bagnall said.
"The creek has a layer of red silt all along the length of it and the stuff coats everything, suffocates everything and kills everything.
"My concern is the contamination of a pristine creek," Cr Bagnall said.
The two councillors now face an investigation by an independent conduct panel which includes a former senior NSW police officer and crime investigator.
Councillor Bagnall said he visited the quarry twice and it was his first visit which took place a couple of weeks ago that started the entire affair.
"I was elected to make sure the council was transparent and to put policies in place that govern sites like this.
"The visit was not only in response to the neighbour's concerns but was also part of my research to help formulate appropriate policies.
"They haven't cleaned it up and need to be held accountable.
"They've done the wrong thing and are hiding this from the shire," Cr Bagnall said.
Once the two accused councillors conclude their interviews with the conduct panel, the panel will make recommendations to the council and councillors will then have the opportunity to accept the recommendations or to come up with their own.
"We could face a suspension from council meetings," Cr Bagnall said.
Tweed council was asked but was unable to comment on alleged breaches of the code of conduct.