Last week Council held its regular meeting (24 May) and once more our Councillors were ‘led by the nose’. Ratepayers were yet again denied the opportunity to hear how the monies we pay to Council are used. The old favourite of ‘commercial and in confidence’ inherently came to the fore. The ‘peasants’ were not to be told the CHCC sponsorship costs related with Rally Australia 2018.
So whatever happened to the policy of Council being “open and transparent”?
It is just a statement. It seems our Council adopted it just so they can ‘tick off a box’. They pretend they meet their responsibilities to the community they are supposed to serve. But this is too harsh.
The word transparent means clear and another way to say open is to use the words not closed. So the statement could easily be read as Council is clear it is not closed. But closed to what? Could it mean offers, for if it did it would explain the GM’s potential ‘conflict of interest’? No matter how hard he protests he does get a benefit out of being our employee and also being on the Rally Australia board. He probably goes to the event without paying where he is wined and dined, probably for free. Indirectly the ratepayers are paying for this privilege. Ask yourself this simple question; “Would the GM be on the board if it was not for his position on Council?”
It seems some of the unseen and unheard Councillors need to take their role a little more seriously. The way some operate leaves much to be desired.
This is not true of the Mayor; she likes to sound her trumpet often. Taking her advice a visit was made down to the Jetty Foreshores.
Numerous environmentally unfriendly walk ways twist and turn. It is not all at all inviting for all you can see is grass. When standing still in one spot it is clear the paths lead you in circles. It is a directionless meander to no place in particular. But take heart there is one straight path. This allows you to take the walk across the space to end up at the railway track. And what do you do when the end is reached? Either hoof it across a small paddock to the road or retrace your steps.
It is probably just as well it ends where it does. Cross the road to the northern side of Harbour Drive and there is no footpath and no guttering. The immediate thought is some of the wasted concrete for the maze could have been diverted to this ‘mountain goat track’.
But there is a boardwalk; the primary purpose of which is to put man’s footprint on the natural beauty of the area and restrict access to the beach. Mayor, did you ever think people might want to get to the beach? Did you ever think of making it easy to do this? A seeing-eye dog would find it hard to get access.
The boardwalk explains our Council’s philosophy very well. It is slightly above the surrounding land and it parallels our Council’s approach to the Joint Organisation issue. We, it seems, are above all others. Our Councillors believe they have the right to decide who is in and who is out of any alliance. We have ‘the moral high ground’. As a result our Council is one of two out of 53 not to endorse the state-wide practice. Yes, we lag behind all but one. This area seems to have done so for a long time now. Our Council denies residents access to benefits other areas seem to be getting. Personal and private squabbles get in the way of moving to the future. We are struck in the past and our Councillors are without a map, there is no sense of direction or of positive planning. A fact well demonstrated by the Jetty ‘maze’.
And across on the south wall masses of ugly concrete blocks stand. These have recently been blasted to remove the signs and graffiti. The warning signs of the past have gone; but has the danger moved on? No, some of the huge blocks are ‘on the move’ making it even more dangerous. Cracks stretch out and across the path. Not just one but dozens of them and as they go the concrete breaks up to make potholes.
But fear not good residents our Council has a reputation for filling in potholes on our roads. They will no doubt use this expertise on the south wall. Over and over they will fill in the potholes never once to do it right in the first place. It will reflect poorly on the quality of the work. But this is the standard way of operating and we should not be concerned.
We can look forward to the day when nature wreaks havoc. Concrete will no doubt become statues on the beach sand. It is lucky for us we will have a boardwalk to view these stone-age monuments. And it will no doubt excite the overseas visitors here for the Rally.
Our Council will again spend money to repair all of this. We will employ our human resources to preserve the past and not to build the future.
We will do it under the veil of “commercial and in-confidence”.
Note: In a previous life before he/she moved to the Coffs Coast to retire ‘Cob’ worked as a specialist forensic financial auditor for the Government.