'Lame duck' mayor loses peer support

Joan van Lieshout
Joan van Lieshout

TWEED Mayor Joan van Lieshout's job is now in jeopardy as other councillors rally behind general manager Mike Rayner over his support for the controversial world championship car rally in September.

The moves come in the wake of revelations of a power struggle involving the mayor and Mr Rayner.

Read more: GM refuses to quit board

Several councillors yesterday slammed Cr van Lieshout for publicly revealing she wanted Mr Rayner to step down from his extra role on the board of Rally Australia and are furious she has tried to sideline him.

Cr van Lieshout revealed earlier this week that although she had failed to convince Mr Rayner to resign from the Rally Australia board she had reached agreement with rally organisers to hold any future negotiations with elected councillors.

Cr Phil Youngblutt said the mayor's “time is nearly up” with councillors due to hold their annual vote choosing a mayor in September.

“If that's what she has done, she's overstepped the mark,” Cr Youngblutt said.

“It's only eight to ten weeks before there's an election.

“Things will be rectified then. As far as a mayor, Joan is a dead loss.

“As far as the general manager is concerned with the Repco Rally, he hasn't done anything wrong. He has done a bloody good job.”

Cr Youngblutt said Cr van Lieshout had failed to recognise that as mayor she should be the one who “represents the councillors, not the one who leads us.”

Cr Youngblutt predicted only Greens Party councillor Katie Milne would be backing Cr van Lieshout.

Cr Milne could not be contacted yesterday.

Cr Warren Polglase said the mayor had “overstepped her authority”.

“Whatever support she had from elected councillors she has no longer,” he added. “We have a lame duck mayor.

“She is way out of line. I've never seen such a dysfunctional council in all my 28 years in local government.

“As far as I'm concerned, Mike Rayner has done everything to encourage and promote the Tweed.

“Regardless of the people who are anti the rally, a lot of people support it.”

Cr Polglase said the mayor had no authority to ask rally organisers to deal only with the elected councillors “because council has not resolved that”.

“These things are very serious matters,” he added.

“You are dealing with the principal person in the organisation.

“You don't do these things unless it's with the resolution of council”.

Cr Dot Holdom said any councillor could “put concerns to the general manager”.

But she added: “At the end of the day council must come together” for a decision.

Cr Holdom said Rally Australia would still have to go through the general manager to deal with the elected councillors because that was how the council operated.

Cr van Lieshout revealed she had asked Mr Rayner to resign from the rally board in March because she considered the position created a conflict of interest when the council had been due to consider a development application for the rally.

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