Did Councillor Sally Townley let slip the legal costs so far in regards to Council’s legal cases with Biomass and associated companies?
By the Editor
During discussion during last night’s scheduled Council meeting Cr Townley made a reference early in the meeting to $4.5 million being spent by council on legal fees.
Later on, after Councillors had gone into a ‘confidential in camera’ discussion on what to do in regards to adjusting the wall heights at the Englands Road Waste Landfill managed by Council, Cr Townley said; “Why is it a secret that we have spent $4.3 million dollars on legal fees?”
The latter was possibly in relation to Council legal advice, from HWL Ebsworth’s Sonia Kroon, which questioned the “utility and prudence” of releasing the figure without any overall context while also making it clear it had not actually been considered that releasing the total cost all up was permissible or not.
CCO understands that the figures mentioned by Cr Townley would only apply so far to Council’s own legal costs in regards to ongoing action against Biomass, HandyBin Ltd and Coffs Coast Waste Management Services.
Nor would the figures quoted by Cr Townley include associated lost resource allocation and opportunity costs due to council resources being redirected so as to focus on the arbitration tribunal cases.
CCO also understands the figure would not include the legal costs Biomass can claim relating to the arbitration decision in their favour that was announced in 14 August last year. Nor would the figure also include legal costs relating to similar cases underway between the Coffs Harbour City Council and the Nambucca shire Council and the Bellingen Shire Council that also relate to the same contracts.
If the above factors, and their costs, are taken into account the figure could be quite a lot more than $4.3-$4.5 million quoted
Additionally CCO also understands that the CHCC has been singularly unsuccessful in any of the actions and claims that have so far been ruled on by the adjudicator although decisions on other cases are currently pending.
Additionally last night Councillors rejected the CHCC Executive’s recommendation to build a 10 meter high extension wall at the Englands Road landfill and instead opted for a four meter high wall instead. Presumably this was done so as to force Council and the State Government to agree on a new waste management site. A new site that, according to CHCC General Manager, Steve McGrath might not be in the CHCC LGA area at all.
An amendment to the original agenda item by Cr John Arkan requiring Council to immediately start planning for a new waste site was ruled inadmissible as ‘new general business’ by the GM after a query from Cr George Ceccato.
A report by TripleM Coffs Coast’s Moffee from his breakfast show this morning can be heard here; https://omny.fm/shows/triple-m-coffs-breakfast/4-3-million-coffs-councils-waste-battle-legal-cost
Photo montage: TripleM Coffs Coast.