Written by, and published on behalf of, the Citizens Voice Group
In August 2019, Councillor Townley asked council staff to do a peer review of the council’s long-term financial plan and debt portfolio. We have provided the link to the council minutes where it was approved 5 votes to at the bottom of this post.. This was based around some very serious decisions passed by councillors a month prior re the DA for Gordon Street.
That was close to six months ago!
It is hard to believe that there has been no report back to councillors.
This coming Thursday, 13 February, Councillors are being asked to vote on three significant contracts to be awarded for this very project.
They will be binding contracts that bind our community and its public funds to works on a DA that is:
1. Yet to be approved. And probably at best 3 months away from being at a stage where it may go up for approval or denial, and
2. Is yet to have the peer review done.
Councillor Townley was asked at a council meeting in November, when a member of the public spoke in a public submission prior to the normal council meeting, when this peer review would be done.
No Councillor, or any of the council staff present, answered the question.
The Mayor, Denise Knight on at least three occasions in last three months on a tied vote has followed the correct Coffs Harbour City Council meeting and procedures policy and allowed a motion to lapse or be defeated because the vote was tied.
Prior to that she was using her casting vote, or her second vote, to pass very significant council resolutions.
We would hope that the Mayor stays consistent should voting be tied this coming Thursday night and lets motions be defeated if in fact they are tied again.
She would lose any credibility she has left if she decided to go back to her old ways!
We are not talking about small amounts of expenditure here. It would be conservative in saying that the three contracts would be in excess of five million dollars.
We will not know the figure however as it will be cloaked as being ‘commercial in confidence.’
We have included the Coffs council code of meeting practice:
– Code of Meeting Practice for Coffs Harbour City Council – 11 Voting, Page 20 –:- https://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/…/Code%20of%20Meeting%2…
How can councillors pass a significant amount of expenditure ($5Million plus) for a DA that is in so much contention and still has not had the peer review done that was voted for?
There have been 15,000 plus petition signatures against the proposal and
850 plus letters of objection to the DA.
The DA has a long long way to be approved yet some councillors are seriously considering pushing ahead by approving a DA for demolition works and worse are considering approving public ratepayer funds to expend on consultants on works that have a strong possibility of not being approved!
Council staff have asked for an extension of time to respond to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment re the objections, yet they apparently they have had enough time to do the tenders for consultants for the development.
It makes no commercial sense and makes no equitable sense to make decisions in this fashion.
In fact, we would go as far as to say that any councillor that passes the matters before them on Thursday night re Gordon Street could well be actuing negligently.
We would hope that councillors are smart enough not to approve these large amounts of public funds at this time.
We would suggest that all councillors, especially councillor Townley who voted for the peer review, absolutely do not vote for the proposed expenditure!
Councillors should be putting pressure on staff and demanding that the peer review be presented to council so they can have a stronger understanding of when the DA is likely to come before the State Planning Department for approval.
Here’s the link to the council minutes from the August meeting wherein Cr townley’s peer review request was approved; https://infocouncil.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/…/CO_20190822_M…
And here’s a 2014 ABC article and interview with the Mayor wherein she talks about the importance of an Entertainment Centre; https://www.abc.net.au/local/audio/2014/04/11/3983388.htm?fbclid=IwAR2NSQaEUIcJ7N0viF-udQSFeMalolOWfhK2t_LTbJc_TpfR07Gx28Rw1Bw
And here is the interview the Mayor had with Fi Poole of the ABC in 2014 that is referred to in the above link;