Council holds mysterious meeting

A CLOAK of secrecy shrouded an ‘informal’ meeting of Coffs Harbour City Councillors last night igniting suspicions that something major is afoot.

While it is normal for councillors to gather for briefings prior to regular meetings, what made this get-together unusual was not just that the council only met last week but that it did not involve any senior staff.

For his part, the general manager, Stephen Sawtell, said he was not even aware of the meeting.

It is believed the mayor called the councillor-only get-together on Wednesday.

“It is not an official council meeting, just an informal gathering of councillors,” Cr Rhoades said late yesterday.

The mayor would not say what the meeting was about but said he had called it because something had arisen in the ‘past few days’.

“Last year we had 63 informal briefing sessions so there is nothing unusual about this meeting.”

But most of those meetings involved the attendance of senior staff and included discussions related to matters on council’s immediate radar.

What was behind last night’s meeting was very much a tightly guarded secret.

It is believed that an envelope marked ‘confidential’ was yesterday sent to each councillor.

Another councillor confirmed there was only one item on the agenda for last night’s meeting.

“But we have been advised that the agenda and discussions are confidential and so I can’t say any more,” the councillor said.

Another seemed agitated when contacted by The Advocate and even apprehensive that news of the meeting had gotten out.

“This is not something that needs to be speculated about. It is very sensitive.”

A former Coffs Harbour City Councillor said during their tenure it was rare for informal gatherings of councillors to be held without the presence of senior staff to give advice and explain processes.

“It would certainly seem unusual for such a meeting to be held in such secrecy and without the knowledge of senior staff.

“I think the community will be vitally interested in what has gone on behind closed doors.”

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