Council chaos as Cultural and Civic Space standoff continues
ONE of the councillors behind the extraordinary walk out last week makes no apology for his stance but the Office of Local Government has warned they're closely monitoring the situation.
Coffs Harbour City Councillor Keith Rhoades has been highly critical of the proposed Cultural and Civic Space and was one of four councillors to walk out of last Thursday night's meeting (and another meeting reconvened the next day in an attempt to resolve the matter).
Accompanied by Councillors John Arkan, Tegan Swan and Paul Amos he stormed out of the meeting as it appeared their rescission motion (calling for a halt to the project) would be lost.
Cr Rhoades says such a drastic move was justified in this case.
"In my opinion it's not a breach of procedure. For a council to be dissolved there needs to be an enquiry," Mr Rhoades said.
"Those public enquiries take up to 18 months. It's not as though the minister comes out and says you're all sacked."
The Office of Local Government has confirmed it is liaising with the council and closely monitoring the situation and provided the following statement in relation to protocol.
"The local community is entitled to expect the highest standards of leadership and conduct from its elected representatives.
"Under the new Model Code of Conduct councillors must not engage in any conduct that is intended to prevent the proper or effective functioning of their council.
"This includes any conduct that is calculated to deprive a meeting of a quorum. Ultimately, it is a matter for a council to deal with any alleged breaches of the council's code of conduct and to take appropriate disciplinary action."
Given the walkout on Thursday evening effectively deprived the council of a quorum the four councillors could be on shaky ground.
Cr Rhoades' only regret was that other matters slated for discussion that night will also need to be deferred until the August 8 meeting.
A controversial development proposed for a sensitive strip of coastal land at Emerald Beach was one such matter that could not be resolved.
"That's the down side but we did what we had to do. We firmly believe that there needs to be further investigation into this.
"We've got to take a stand - we're not just going to give up."
Mayor Denise Knight who has used her casting vote to support the project in the past will this week attempt to speak with all councillors to try and resolve the matter.
But for now it's clear Cr Rhoades will not be backing down.
"I've got no idea what's going to happen on August 8 but I for one - and my colleagues - are prepared to listen to the community on this one, and there is very very strong support for the stance we've taken."